§ Dr. Hampson
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the Government's recent achievements in higher education.
§ Mr. Alan Howarth
The Government have continued to implement policies to improve aspects of higher education in England and Wales and have made important progress in carrying out the provisions of the Education Reform Act 1988.
There are now over 1 million students in higher education, 36 per cent. more than in 1979. By the end of the 1990s, the number is expected to increase to nearly 1.2 million.
Since the introduction of the Education Reform Act, polytechnics and colleges of higher education have been established as independent corporate bodies, funded by the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council. With the recent announcement of the new Bournemouth and Humberside polytechnics there are now 31 polytechnics and 54 other major providers of higher education in the new PCFC sector.
The shift in the balance of public funding between the block grant and the fee means that higher education institutions now have a financial incentive to admit additional students. In consequence, institutions are becoming increasingly responsive to the needs of students, employers and other interested "customers" of higher education.451W
Higher education is well placed to meet the challenges of the 1990s.