asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the change in the annual incomes in real terms of universities since 1979; and whether the income of Oxford university has changed in the same way as the average for all universities.
The annual recurrent income from all sources of universities in Great Britain increased by 10·8 per cent. in real terms between 1979–80 and 1982–83. The corresponding increase for the University of Oxford was 9·3 per cent. The figures do not allow a true comparison between years because of changes in funding arrangements during the period and the provision of additional funds for reductions in staff.
Given that there has been higher spending on education in real terms under this Government, including spending on Oxford university and its lecturers' salaries, was it not deplorable that that university's congregation recently decided not to confer the traditional honorary degree on the Prime Minister—its most famous daughter—on the spurious ground of education cuts and without a proper study of the facts?
Does the Minister understand the bafflement of those universities which have a technological specialisation who appear to have been singled out particularly for loss of income, when they believe they are doing a good job to enhance the economic structure of the country?
It is true that the University Grants Committee in 1981 exercised discrimination between various institutions, but it is also true that Loughborough and Bath, which were previously colleges of advanced technology, were beneficiaries when others were not.
The late Richard Crossman used to say that Whitehall and Westminster were dominated by Oxford because there was a better train service to Oxford than to Cambridge, but the House will recall the observation of Hazlitt:
You will hear more good things on the outside of a stagecoach from London to Oxford than if you were to pass a twelvemonth with the under-graduates, or heads of colleges, of that famous university.