Quality Assessment in Respect of Institutions without Degree-Awarding Powers

Part of Orders of the Day — Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 5th February 1992.

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Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline West 8:30 pm, 5th February 1992

I support the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) on that issue, and I declare a long-standing interest. I was involved, in the Dundee college of technology, in bringing the CNAA into the department of commerce and economics at the university. That must be 25 or 30 years ago. I have corresponded with the Minister on that matter. The points raised by the hon. Member for Dundee, West require specific answers.

To use the analogy of what happened when previous central institutions became universities, when the Scottish college of commerce and the Royal college of science and technology were merged to become the university of Strathclyde, the university offered students associated with either of those institutions an option of becoming graduates of the university. Instead of associateships with commerce or economics, they could obtain a BA. I hope that that covers the hon. Gentleman's point about bringing students into an on-going institution in terms of its archives and records of academic credentials for the future.

I am not as conversant with the matter as I might be, but I understand that the CNAA will disappear and that Dundee college will not become a university. If so, what happens to the quality assessment of its degrees? The Secretary of State cannot divest himself of responsibility. The college in Dundee was, so far as I can remember, the first in Scotland to make arrangements with the CNAA.

I speak only from a commerce and economics point of view, but I remember that the CNAA was stringent in terms of external examinations—and rightly so—before it gave its imprimatur to the lecturing in the college of technology. The Minister cannot leave Dundee college in suspended animation. He has some responsibility not just to the students who have gone there, which is an important factor, but to those who might want to go there because of its good reputation in commerce, engineering and other spheres.

The Minister cannot dodge answering the questions raised by the hon. Member for Dundee, West. Students who enter such an institution will be uncertain how industrialists and commercial enterprises will view their degrees. Will the Minister clear up the matter and try to set it at rest?