Sir Keith Joseph: Yes, Sir, subject only to remembering that there is scope for departments that need to improve themselves in quality.
Sir Keith Joseph: Successive Governments have relied on the UGC to make decisions about the allocation of public money, and the Government have no intention of departing from that practice.
Sir Keith Joseph: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and agree with much of what he has said. To some extent, the fact that public money follows student choice already recognises that student choices have a large contribution to make. Nevertheless, we want to ensure, as I am sure my hon. Friend does, that the quality of teaching and research in the chosen universities is excellent.
Sir Keith Joseph: There is bound to be some satisfaction and some dissatisfaction in different departments, resulting from the judgment of the UGC in what I repeat is a landmark set of decisions.
Sir Keith Joseph: I cannot go into individual judgments, because that is the province of the UGC. However, I think that my hon. Friend has the right end of the stick.
Sir Keith Joseph: No change in student numbers or employment in universities is, in aggregate, presaged by today's statement. A redistribution may result. One of the main contributions to excellence is quality of research and effectiveness of teaching. That is precisely what the UGC' with the Government's encouragement, has now pioneered.
Sir Keith Joseph: I must say yes to my hon. Friend. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will read the details of what I have announced today. We are offering to the university system the possibility of further funding, depending upon the negotiations on the public expenditure survey this year, if it builds on the announcements that have been made today.
Sir Keith Joseph: The hon. Gentleman will have to look at the details in the letters, but the former chairman of the UGC who presided over the allocations in 1981 recently wrote to The Times to say that, in his view, thanks to the presence of two very vigorous vice-chancellors, Salford and Aston are both better universities now than they were in 1981.
Sir Keith Joseph: Yes, Sir.
Sir Keith Joseph: Categorically, no. This is not an attack on universities but a stimulus to excellence.