Full-time Students

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 18th December 1996.

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Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie 1:50 pm, 18th December 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has for expanding the number of full-time students in further education taking higher level courses with particular reference to expanding the availability of bursaries. [8146]

Photo of Mr Raymond Robertson Mr Raymond Robertson , Aberdeen South

Except in those colleges involved in the university of the highlands and islands project, we have no further plans to expand the number of full-time students in further education taking higher education courses. Future arrangements for bursaries are currently under review.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

I thank the Minister for responding to the request by my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) and myself to provide bursary money to enable students at Clydebank to continue their courses, which they had been prevented from doing as a result of underfunding.

Does the Minister realise that about half the colleges in Scotland which are in financial trouble will be unable to expand to attract more students next year because there will not be the bursary money to support those students in their courses?

Photo of Mr Raymond Robertson Mr Raymond Robertson , Aberdeen South

I thank the hon. Gentlemen for coming in. We had a useful meeting, which helped to address some of the problems at that college. Regarding the situation on bursaries, I hope that the hon. Gentleman is aware that we are reviewing all this and we have asked for comments from the entire sector with a view to seeing whether any changes need to be made. We have an open mind on that. Last Friday, I had a useful meeting in Inverness with the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) and some of his college principals. If the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington), the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) or any other hon. Member has any views that he wishes to feed in, I am willing to listen to representations and consider the matter.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

Will the Minister carefully examine the plans that are being made, and carried out experimentally in England, to provide proper bursaries for dance and drama students, which are not being mirrored in Scotland? It remains an anomaly that discretionary spending is excluding Scottish would-be dancers and dramatic performers from proper further education opportunities.

Photo of Mr Raymond Robertson Mr Raymond Robertson , Aberdeen South

Yes, indeed: I am happy to give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that I shall look carefully at that; and at any information that he wants to give me beforehand. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is shouting from behind me, "What about the Spice Girls?".