HC Deb 22 January 1988 vol 125 cc884-5W
Mr. Nicholas Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he is able to announce his decisions on local authority higher education provision in 1988–89; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker

Having consulted the Welsh Joint Education Committee and the Welsh Counties Committee I have decided that the advanced further education quantum for 1988–89 should be set at £36.6 million. This represents a 7.3 per cent. increase between 1987–88 and 1988–89. I have decided that £400,000 of the quantum should be used to fund the following selective initiativesContinuation of support provided in 1987–88 for the development of in-service training courses to increase the supply of Welsh medium secondary school teachers and for the development of commercial activities and professional updating (PICKUP) courses. Development of a manufacturing systems engineering degree course at the Polytechnic of Wales. Development of an engineering access course at the Polytechnic of Wales. Support for research activities at the North East Wales Institute of HE and the Polytechnic of Wales.

I have received advice from the Wales Advisory Body for Local Authority Higher Education 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 growth of 1 per cent. between estimated enrolments of 13,498 full-time equivalents in 1987–88 and target student numbers of 13,589 for 1988–89. The proposals provide for 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, net of the £400,000 for selective initiatives, should be distributed between local authorities. The proposals for distributing the quantum are related to the proposals for target student numbers for 1988–89 by institution, mode of attendance and subject; and they allow additional funding for degree and post-graduate courses. WAB have recommended that Dyfed should continue to receive some cash protection for 1988–89 in respect of the College of Librarianship Wales. WAB has considered bids from institutions against the £400,000 set aside for selective initiatives and has provided advice on how this sum should be allocated.

I have decided to accept the WAB's advice on academic provision and student numbers, on the methodology for distributing the net quantum and on the distribution of the £400,000 for selective initiatives. The local education authorities have been informed of these decisions and of their individual allocations.

Copies of a note explaining the methodology by which the AFE quantum for 1988–89 is being distributed have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.