Universities and Polytechnics

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st December 1981.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North 12:00 am, 1st December 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of the age group 19 to 25 years he expects to be attending universities and polytechnics in each of the next 10 years.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The percentage of the 19 to 25 age group attending universities is expected to fall from about 3·6 per cent. in 1980–81 to about 3 per cent. by 1984–85. A further 1·5 per cent. of this age group were attending polytechnics in 1980–81. It is not possible to give the projections requested for the polytechnics, or for the universities beyond 1984–85.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North

Which members of the Cabinet would have managed to get into university if they had been part of the "bulge" generation and had faced the cuts that the Government are now imposing on universities? Is it not scandalous that the Government are denying to the next generation the opportunities that many members of the Cabinet and of the House enjoyed?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I am sure that none of my right hon. Friends would have had the slightest difficulty in getting into university in any age. Many of them would have been in universities, even in the eighteenth century—[Interruption.] There will be a fall in the participation rate, which we all regret.

Photo of Mr Nigel Forman Mr Nigel Forman , Sutton Carshalton

Apart from the needs of people between the ages of 19 and 25, what encouragement does the Department intend to give to mature students going back to university or polytechnics on a continuing and optional basis?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

My hon. Friend draws attention to an important subject. This year the University Grants Committee, for the first time in its distributions, tried to protect mature students specifically. It remains an important aspect of Government policy to do that.

Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North

As we now know that the fall in the number of university student places will be about 20,000 in three years, is not it incumbent on the Government to state the equivalent fall in the number of polytechnic places?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

Policy decisions remain to be taken after discussion with local authorities about the implications for polytechnics and other colleges in the maintained sector.