Higher Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:38 pm on 8th July 1981.

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Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North 9:38 pm, 8th July 1981

What kind of cuts can be made in these non-existent departments when the university is told to lose 1,000 students?

Aston university has a bio-deterioration research laboratory. It has one of the only two research and development units into fish farming in the country. It is leading in research into water pollution and other areas of this kind. Yet universities of this kind are being told to diminish their work in faculties such as engineering, which is being moved to universities such as Kent. That is entirely wrong. It shows the nature of the discrimination being practised against the technological universities.

Finally, it seems to me that the whole exercise mounted by the Government has, by its atavism, destroyed many institutions that may not be able to survive on their present numbers. It is no good saying that one chooses courses, not universities. A crisis of confidence in the universities will follow the financial crisis that has now taken place.

There is only one achievement left that the Government have not so far accomplished. That is to be the first Government in Western Europe to close a university. That is the only thing left for them to do. If they had any grace at all, the Ministers involved would resign.