§ 8. Mr. Archer
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will place in the Library copies of the representations which he has received in response to the White Paper "Higher Education — Meeting the Challenge".
There have been wide-ranging discussions surrounding the White Paper since its publication in April and there is no simple record. However, copies of organisations' responses to the three associated consultative documents are already in the Library.
§ Mr. Archer
I am grateful to the Minister for his kindness. As the proposed criteria for the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council funding include a requirement that at least 55 per cent, of a college's students should be in the advanced further education category, and since many major mixed economy colleges will not qualify because of policies which they have deliberately pursued and have been encouraged to pursue, can the Minister assure the House that they will continue to receive adequate local authority funding, or does he intend that higher education should be hived off and become academically isolated and privatised?
It is certainly not the intention that higher education should be hived off. We believe that it is desirable that there should continue to be mixed economy colleges, and we shall look to local authorities to continue to support them.
§ Dr. Hampson
Does my hon. Friend agree that there are a great many people in higher education who do not see the point of creating two funding bodies — one for polytechnics and colleges and one for universities — which match each other? Can we not reconsider and have one funding body for the whole of higher education?
My hon. Friend asks a fundamental question. We must go back to the speech by the Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1966 about the different missions of the different institutions in the so-called binary system. We do not believe that it is right at this stage, when polytechnics and colleges are emerging into a new sector, to terminate the arrangement.
Is the Minister satisfied with the efficient management of the higher education system in Wales as it applies to his Department? The Welsh Office is in charge of higher education — with the exception of the University of Wales—but no structure exists within the proposed Universities Funding Council system for 753 separate consideration of the funding of the University of Wales. Such a structure exists in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The representation of Welsh higher education institutions within the structure of the UFC is under consideration. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will be able to say something about it in due course.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
Does the Minister agree that one of the best parts of the White Paper was the Government's commitment to greater access to education for adults? Will he say how much money the Government will put up to make it easier for adults to gain access to education? How will he co-ordinate the provision for adults returning to education between FE and HE colleges, polytechnics and universities? Do we not need a national co-ordinating body to allocate resources and courses for adults returning to education, or is it the Government's intention to apply competition so that these institutions compete for students and resources?
The Government's commitment to this matter is plain. There has been an increase of 160,000 students in the system since 1979, an 8 per cent. increase in UGC funding—following a 10.2 increase last year— and a 9 per cent. increase in funding for polytechnics and colleges this year. That is ample evidence of the Government's commitment to achieving their target.