HC Deb 19 December 1986 vol 107 cc721-3W
Mr. Fatchett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the projects which will be included in the public sector higher education capital programme for 1988–89.

Mr. Walden

The National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education, which advises my right hon. Friend on both capital and recurrent expenditure allocations, has deferred consideration until the new year of its advice on the projects to be included in the public sector higher education capital building programme for 1988–89.

Mr. Dover

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now announce his decisions on public sector higher education provision in 1987–88 and on the distribution of the advanced further education pool and voluntary sector quantum for 1987–88; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

I have today written to the chairman of the committee of the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education (NAB) in response to the committee's advice on the disposition of student numbers in public sector higher education in 1987–88, and on the basis for distributing the advanced further education quantum of £716.5 million and voluntary sector quantum of £48.85 million for the financial year 1987–88 which I announced in the House on 6 November. I have accepted this advice except for recommendations on town and country planning education and as it bears on fine art provision.

Following my announcement that the resources available for polytechnics and colleges in 1987–88 would be nearly 8.5 per cent. up on the current year, NAB recommends that student access should be further extended in 1987–88. The target numbers now set for 1987–88 provide for nearly 3,000 more student places compared with plans for 1986–87 and a growth in recruitment of 2.5 per cent. over planned 1986 intakes. They also look forward to expansion in the priority areas of science, engineering and other vocational disciplines.

As in previous years, the greater parts of the advanced further education quantum and of the voluntary sector quantum are being allocated to local education authorities and voluntary colleges in relation to target student numbers. The allocations have been made to allow every institution a standard teaching unit of resource for each student. This is supplemented in the case of institutions whose advanced provision exceeds a quarter of the total in recognition of the higher costs associated with advanced further education.

The allocations announced today include £15 million for a range of selective initiatives in areas of high priority and in institutions of recognised strength. Polytechnics and colleges have bid competitively for funds and these have been awarded as follows:

£5.5 million for new courses in science and engineering, particularly conversion courses which will equip those with non-science backgrounds to enter advanced courses in the technologies, and on the development of new courses of teacher training in shortage subjects for non-traditional students;

nearly £4 million to develop further a capacity for applied research of relevance to industry;

£2.5 million to provide for an increase in technicians in support of high technology courses;

£3 million to expand continuing education and professional updating (PICKUP).

A total of £0.25 million is included in the voluntary sector allocations to support the development of new courses of teacher training.

In addition, £1.418 million has been allocated to eight polytechnics to meet the recurrent costs of their continuing participation in phase II of the engineering and technology programme, and £2.948 million has been allocated to continue for a third year the research and biotechnology initiatives which began in 1985–86.

I have provisionally accepted NAB's advice that intakes to three public sector undergraduate courses in town and country planning should cease in order to bring about a desirable concentration in centres of strength. I propose, however, not to bring the decision into effect until 1988–89 to give the institutions affected time to make representations to me if they wish. Meanwhile, and so as not to pre-empt my final decision, I have made allowance for all existing public sector undergraduate town and country planning courses in financial allocations for 1987–88.

As regards fine art, I have decided to allocate modest additions of numbers—in all over 40 places—to certain institutions in order to moderate the overall reduction of over 20 per cent. in fine art intakes recommended to me by the NAB.

Letters are being sent today to local education authorities and institutions notifying them of my decisions. Copies of my letter to the NAB committee chairman, and of a note explaining the method by which the two quanta for 1986–87 are being distributed, together with full details of the allocations, have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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