University Grants Committee

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd June 1982.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West 12:00 am, 22nd June 1982

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he next expects to meet the University Grants Committee to discuss the financing of universities.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I last met the University Grants Committee on 29 April. I have at present no plans for a further meeting, but have frequent meetings with the committee's chairman.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

Although we are grateful for small mercies in that the UGC recently allocated an additional 40 student places to Stirling university, will the Secretary of State tell the UGC, before it visits Stirling in October, that it can have an additional allocation of Government grant specifically to help universities, such as Stirling, that are most critically threatened? If the Government can find £1,000 million to send a task force to the Falkland Islands, why cannot they spend that amount on a task force to educate the thousands of young people who are queuing up for university places?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The hon. Gentleman deliberately misunderstands the function of the UGC. It is not for Ministers to tell the UGC how to allocate the taxpayers' money given to it. It is for the UGC precisely to distribute the funds between the universities and departments, without political interference.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

When my right hon. Friend next meets the chairman or representatives of the University Grants Committee, will he discuss the needs of industry and indicate to them that it is probably better to maintain schools and courses in textile technology, serving the second largest employer in this country, than to have at universities and other institutes of higher education dozens of lecturers who are specialists in peace studies?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I hope my hon. Friend is aware that there is also polytechnic provision, which is quite large in this area, to be taken into account. I am sure that the chairman of the UGC and his colleagues will read my hon. Friend's observations.

Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North

When the Secretary of State gets around to seeing the University Grants Committee, will he take with him in his back pocket the Merrison and Rothschild reports? The Merrison report says that university research has been seriously impaired by cuts in Government spending while the Rothschild report, in language more elegant than I can muster, says that the Government's witch hunt against the social sciences is nonsense. Will the right hon. Gentleman believe his own reports when he looks again at Government spending on universities?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I need no persuasion to take the dual funding of science in universities extremely seriously, as, I know, do the research councils and the UGC.