The difficulties facing Cypriot students in this country are being met by a joint effort by several Departments. For my part, as I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) on 14th November, I have made available under the Overseas Students Fee Awards Scheme up to 400 additional awards for tuition fees in the current year for postgraduate and other advanced-level Cypriot students in financial need.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the measures taken thus far. May I bring to her attention the fact that many students other than first degree students are suffering as a result of the unhappy events in Cyprus and are virtually destitute in this country, and that it is most important she takes an initiative to ensure that their problems do not fall between the different responsibilities she mentioned?
I appreciate the problems my hon. Friend has raised. My right hon. Friends have not yet had an opportunity to inform the House of what they are doing, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is prepared to consider lifting employment restrictions on Cypriot students and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has agreed that, exceptionally, supplementary benefit may be made available to first degree students during term time without requiring them to register for work. These two things, together with what I am doing, should assist the majority of students.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that very welcome reply. May I draw her attention to the fact that, since the decision was taken to award the 400 special scholarships, considerable uncertainty now hangs over many students who do not know whether they will be covered by these grants? May I urge her to ensure that the matter is dealt with as speedily as possible and that guidance is given to the polytechnics and other education institutions as to how they should seek to help students who are not covered by the 400 awards?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I will take care to ensure that there is as little delay as possible, and if we need to increase our staffing in that department I will see that that is done.