HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc106-7W
Mr. Grist

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is able to announce his decisions on local authority higher education provision in 1986–87; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Having consulted the Welsh Joint Education Committee and the Welsh Counties Committee I have decided that the advanced further education quantum for 1986–87 should be set at £31.0 million. This represents an 8.8 per cent. increase between 1985–86 and 1986–87.

I have received advice from the Wales Advisory Body on the planned disposition of academic provision and the number of student places on higher education courses in local authority colleges in Wales. The WAB proposals provide for a 3 per cent. growth in student numbers between 1985–86 and 1986–87, rising from approximately 13,200 to 13,595 in 1986–87. The proposals provide for a continued emphasis to be given to courses in science, engineering and other vocational disciplines and for sub-degree and part-time provision to be protected. The WAB has also provided advice on how the AFE quantum of £31.0 million should be distributed between local authorities, and I have also consulted the WJEC and the WCC about this. The proposals for distributing the quantum are related to the proposals for target student numbers for 1986–87 by institution, mode of attendance and subject, and they allow additional funding for degree and postgraduate courses. The method of allocation proposed will put pressure on high spending institutions to become more cost effective, but will also protect institutions against unacceptably large reductions in their funding between 1985–86 and 1986–87.

I have decided to accept the WAB's advice on academic provision and student numbers and on the methodology for distributing the quantum. In the absence of firm advice from the WAB about a minimum level of funding, I have decided that for 1986–87 every local education authority will receive at least 92½ percent. of its 1985–86 allocation. Local education authorities have been informed of these decisions and of their individual allocations.

Copies of a note explaining the method by which the AFE quantum for 1986–87 are being distributed and have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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