§ 5. Mr. Livsey
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will indicate when the Welsh Office and the Welsh Advisory Body will sanction the joint degree in agricultural technology, which has been initiated by University College, Aberystwyth, and the Welsh Agricultural College.
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts
A working group set up by the University Grants Committee and the public sector higher education advisory bodies has concluded that sufficient course capacity already exists to meet the industry's demands for graduates and diploma holders. However, the two colleges are now considering a suggestion that a new degree course could be established at Aberystwyth by transferring student places from the existing higher national diploma and degree courses.
§ Mr. Livsey
Will the Minister explain why this strictly Welsh matter was referred to the National Advisory Body? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that colleges such as Harper Adams and Seale Hayne in England have 100 HND students and 40 graduate students per course? Why is Wales losing out in that way? Can the hon. Gentleman assure us that sufficient resources will be made available to run the course as a viable one?
§ Mr. Roberts
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the working group's report related to the position in Great Britain as a whole. The demand for graduates in production agriculture and the capacity of existing degree courses in Wales to meet it are in line with the position in Great Britain. What is needed now is a change in the type of course available, and that possibility is now being examined.
§ Sir Peter Emery
Will my hon. Friend make certain that he does not begin poaching from Seal Hayne in the way that the Welsh Development Agency might be doing for jobs in the west country in other instances?
§ Mr. Roberts
I am sure that there will be no poaching or any hint of illegality. The hope is that student places can be transferred from existing higher national diploma and degree courses to provide this new course.