HC Deb 25 November 1991 vol 199 cc419-20W
Mr. Norman Hogg

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the estimate of the funding needed to repair, and bring up to 1990 standards, the fabric and building services of the further education and central institutions in Scotland; and how many of them are now regarded as being in a poor state of repair.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

The condition of buildings in the further education sector is a matter for the relevant education authority and in the grant-aided colleges for the board of governors of the college concerned. The Scottish Office Education Department in its allocation of capital expenditure resource to the grant-aided colleges gives priority to proposals aimed at maintaining the physical condition of buildings and services.

Mr. Bill Walker

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his policy towards mergers between higher education institutions in Scotland.

Mr. Lang

The Universities Funding Council will publish later today a report to me by its Scottish Committee entitled "Criteria for Assessing Merger Proposals from Institutions of Higher Education". In my foreword to the report, I have saidI am most grateful to Professor Shaw, members of his sub-group and the Scottish Committee of the Universities Funding Council for the very thorough and careful consideration that has gone into their report. I also appreciate the contribution made by the many contributors to the consultation exercise carried out by the Committee. The report is a valuable and timely landmark in a period of very rapid change in higher education resulting from publication of our White Paper in the Spring and the introduction of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill earlier this month. In our White Paper, we set out our commitment to continued expansion of higher education to meet the growing demand from all those able to benefit from it. In recent years Scottish higher education institutions have responded very well to the changing demands of students for more courses, delivered in different ways to suit the more diverse nature of the modern student population. In doing so, they have achieved exactly the sort of efficient expansion to which our White Paper referred. There is still scope for yet more such innovation in teaching and administration, and collaboration or even closer association up to and including full institutional merger has a contribution to make to this process. This report provides an excellent analysis of the factors which higher education managements, staff and students should take into account when considering mergers. It provides what I am certain will become a key reference for all those committed to enhancing and developing further the achievements of Scottish higher education. I commend this report to all those involved who share our commitment to meeting the needs of future generations of students. I would therefore expect institutions to assess any proposals for merger against the principles and criteria set out in the report; and in considering such proposals I shall look for evidence that this has been done.

A copy of the report will be placed in the House Library.

Mr. Dewar

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give the number of students following degree courses in universities and central institutions in Scotland for each of the last five years.

Mr. Lang

The number of students following first degree courses in universities and central institutions is given in the table:

Number of students
Year Universities Central Institutions
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
1986–87 40,541 2,285 14,675 717
1987–88 41,579 2,194 15,278 909
1988–89 42,055 1,814 16,516 1,180
1989–90 44,094 1,655 17,936 1,792
1990–91 46,417 1,277 20,147 2,235