In advising the Privy Council I had before me written memoranda from the Association of University Teachers, the Central Council for Non-Teaching Staffs in Universities, the Council for National Academic Awards and the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals.
Is it not a fact that that proposterous institution is now a university only because it is so styled in the charter that has been awarded to it by the Secretary of State? Will he confirm that the CNAA declined to validate the honours degree at Buckingham nine years ago and that the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals would have recommended—had the right hon. Gentleman chosen to consult it—that there should be an independent academic assessment? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that many of us see this issue as a shabby political pay-off of the worst possible kind, and an insult to reputable academic institutions in this country?
The college became a university by the same process as other modern colleges have become universities over the years. It is true that nine years ago the CNAA refused to validate a particular course, but the professional bodies served by the students gave professional qualifications to graduates of Buckingham college. This institution shows what can be done outside the state sector. It is an admirable example of combining relatively short degree courses with high standards and research. There is much for the public sector to learn from that university.
I agree with my hon. Friend. The fact that the university started from a relatively small base makes it the same as other places that are now accepted as perfectly normal universities.
Just to prove that it is not a shabby political pay-off, will the Secretary of State consider granting a charter to Goldsmiths' college in the borough of Lewisham, which is to lose its London university status, or would the Left-wing leanings of Mr. Richard Hoggart, its principal, act in some way against that, just as they did when he was on the Arts Council?
The hon. Gentleman is free with his allegations in the House. I would hope to bring the same standards to bear on any proposal for university status that came before me.