About 500 letters have been received since the middle of last year, concerning principally the rationalisation of provision at Bangor and Cardiff. Apart from additional special allowances made for Welsh medium teaching and for the University Registry, the Welsh colleges are funded on precisely the same basis as all other university institutions in Great Britain.
Although there is a general welcome for the establishment of a Welsh committee of the University Funding Council, there is concern that the University of Wales is suffering worse cuts than universities in other parts of the United Kingdom. Will the Minister assure the House that that funding imbalance will be borne in mind when the allocation of resources is made to the University of Wales, bearing in mind the special needs arising from, first, the teaching through the medium of the Welsh language, secondly, the federal nature of universities in Wales and, thirdly, that departments tend to be smaller because of the nature of the colleges?
I have already mentioned the special factors that are taken into account by the UGC in its allocation to Wales. It is the policy of the Government, and indeed of most parties in the House—I know it is not the policy of Plaid Cymru, of which the hon. Gentleman is a member—that there should be a United Kingdom national policy for our universities. The University of Wales and its constituent colleges are treated in exactly the same way by the UGC as all the other university institutions in the country. The hon. Gentleman does no service to the University of Wales by asking for special pleading, especially when the University of Wales Institute of Service and Technology, Lampeter and the College of Medicine are rated above the average.
The hon. Gentleman must understand that the Secretary of State fixes the number of students required for initial teacher training, but the distribution among the universities is determined by the UGC. One of the paradoxes of the situation is that the Government are accused of taking centralising powers by the very people who constantly press us to intervene to direct the universities.