§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, for the personal compassionate reasons which have led to my being put in rather an unusual place in the list of speakers I am profoundly grateful. I will try to show it by being quite short. It seems to me that what we are bound to discuss to-day is, as has already been pointed out, not merely the Swann Report but three or four other Reports that came out at about the same time. One is the Dainton Report which studied the stage when you go through school to higher education; then there is the Swann Report itself which proceeds from higher education to employment; and then there is the Report curiously known as the "Brain-drain" which, in fact, studies what happens when you are in employment. We are a funny country. We 923 consolidate our Acts of Parliament; we never consolidate our Blue Books; and to the mass of Blue Books that I have mentioned already there might properly be added the Second Report of the Council on Scientific Policy which came out at the same time as The Brain-Drain; that is, in October, 1967. The other two were issued about a year later.
I begin with education and I will try to be short. I am no educationist, but I have never seen why a sound education of a general character could not be founded on science instead of on the 18th century tradition of Greek, Latin and the like, upon which I was personally brought up. I am sure that it could be done. I have seen quite enough science, not personally but among relations and friends, to feel even more strongly that not only would it be a good foundation for education but that it might well prove to be a better one. If it is to have that foundation, then I think what is needed is the type of general scientist to whom other speakers and these Reports have referred. I would merely make this remark about general scientists and specialised scientists. The problem confronting science at present is very like the problem confronting doctors and might well be considered in the same way. Doctors are finding that medical science is becoming so complex, so varied and so advanced that no single doctor can be anything like a specialist in the whole of it; and their way out of it is to try to provide general practitioners with a degree of specialisation in partnerships. It clearly does not apply in that form to scientists, but the same problem is really happening over science. Your Lordships may be aware that the number of Fellows of the Royal Society has had to be increased from time to time and that the reason for it is the growing complexity of science. Therefore, if general education is to be based on science it will have to be on general science and not on specialisation until at any rate a rather later stage.
There are three classes of scientists that we have to consider. First, there is the Government scientist. All I would say about the Government scientist is that a good many years ago—three or four years ago now; I have not looked it up —there appeared a Report called the 924 Gibbs-Zuckerman Report. It was so called because Gibbs died early in the preparation of the Report and his place was taken by Sir Solly Zuckerman. What they stressed very strongly, and I think rightly, was that scientists in the Civil Service ought to have the same status and the same opportunities as those who went into the Administrative class. I feel sure that in principle that is right. As the Fulton Report is now being considered, I hope that it will be one of the points that they will bear in mind.
I turn now from that group to another group of scientists: those who go to universities. I hope that they are fairly crafty people. Since they know so much more about it than I do, they appear to have disappeared to get their tea while I am making this speech. Whether they have done that or not, I would only say to them that I think that their difficulties depend, no doubt immediately, on the Dainton difficulty of filling places at schools, but ultimately on the hopes of the young person about his or her future career—and the hopes of scientists in this country are not as bright as they ought to be. That is the real reason why there is the difficulty mentioned in the Dainton Report and referred to in the Swann Report. I think that we really might be rather kinder to Professor Michael Swann. He has done a great deal of excellent public work, particularly in the way of Reports and this one is a very good specimen. But I would ask your Lordships to remember one thing about it. The last chapter but one—it is true it is quite a short one—is about the future work that remains to be done; and one, at any rate, of the subsidiary reports inside, signed, among others, by someone I know quite well, is what I would call an interim report. It indicates what further work has to be done. Again and again through the whole of the Report Professor Swann makes perfectly clear that he is producing what, I repeat, I would call an interim report which contains a large number of final conclusions but also indicates a large number of subjects which remain to be studied.
My Lords, this is becoming a very complicated world, not least in the field of science. It is perfectly true that we go on again and again examining this and that and finding yet more to be 925 examined. I sometimes feel that there ought to be an examiner of examiners who would consider what ought to be done within the time and facilities of people. This, of course, is particularly the case in these scientific reports. They are written by people who are very busy on other things, whose interests are primarily scientific and who give very generously indeed of their time and expert knowledge. I think that we ought to be particularly grateful to such people. May I take the opportunity of thanking my noble friend warmly for introducing this subject and giving us the opportunity to discuss it again. I find it a fascinating subject, and I am certain that I am not the only person who does so.
My Lords, I come on to the third group of scientists. I have said nothing, or practically nothing, about university scientists, but I would ask your Lordships to consider whether the question of motivation, the question of future careers, is not really just as important in the case of university scientists as in others. This is very difficult to analyse and a good deal of the reports are taken up in analysing it. I shall not try to analyse it again. It is when one comes to industry that I feel rather ashamed of my own country. It is not the large companies who are at fault—they do it fairly well. It is said, "Well, the small companies and undertakings cannot do it", but, my Lords, they can. There are such things as research associations. It is done in other countries. In Japan twice as many people are employed on research and development as are employed in this country, or were at the time of the last Report of the Council for Scientific Policy. Really, we ought to be rather ashamed of ourselves, ought we not? The Reports become extremely eloquent about this. It obviously moves the writers.
I will not trouble your Lordships with what you may well have read already. There is a whole passage about it. Most of it is in the Brain-Drain Report, some of it is elsewhere. In the Swann Report one chapter concludes with words that I will read because the passage is quite short and they really are written eloquence:We therefore recommend that industry should vigorously recruit persons qualified in science, engineering and technology, especially the ablest graduates in these fields; should 926 see that they are fully and effectively employed and that attractive and changing careers are open to them; should define more clearly its requirements for employment to give guidance to educationalists; and, using to the full the provisions of the Industrial Training Act, should become intimately involved in the planning, conduct and support of post-graduate and post-experience education and training which is intended to meet these requirements.My Lords, those are fine words but we are a very long way from their fulfilment, and I should have thought that this ought to be considered at the highest level. I was very relieved to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that something is being done already. He mentioned one or two cases, but the immensity and importance of the job are both so great that I hope more is going to be done and more active encouragement given.
There are, I think, two points: first, salaries and pensions. In one of these Reports pensions are mentioned and, of course transferability is important. In America salaries are, or were when the Brain-Drain Report was written, about three times greater than they are here. People who have children to bring up and other responsibilities have to consider this kind of thing. In fact, if you find that some job or another, even quite a simple job, is not being done to perfection, one of the first things to look at is how much they pay the people concerned, and that is so in this case. Our salaries badly need alteration. There is yet another point. We have lot got out of the habit of looking at scientists as people whom we employ to get scientific conclusions. We do not allow them the independence they get not only in America but in a number of other countries. Though again this applies much less to the larger companies than to others, it is a varying national deficiency and is made perfectly clear in the Reports that I have mentioned.
What we have to do, my Lords, is to see that the scientist has a status equal to the ad-man, or the manager, or somebody of that sort. They are getting well ahead of the poor scientist, whose work will be far more important to the country in the long run than anything by way of management, or ad-men, or the like. I am quite certain that until we can revise the views of the ordinary businessman about scientists we shall not get much further.
927 Industry can afford it. Recently over £2 million was given by industry to the funds of the Tory Party. That included, for instance, £25,000 from Hambros and, rather to my surprise, £10,000 from Marks and Spencer. These kinds of contribution are minimal in importance, whatever view you take of it, compared to what ought to be given or contributed to science. It is on the future of science in this country that, in my view, the happiness of people living in it, their opportunities of development as human beings and, in the long run, their opportunities for peaceful survival in a crowded and quarrelsome world largely depend; and I beg your Lordships on this and every other occasion not to take it too hard if some of us say something about contributions to Tory Party funds or the like. This is a matter which profoundly concerns the whole country.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE
My Lords, I would begin by joining other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for bringing forward his Motion on the Swann Report and on the application of greater resources to research. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail into the implications of the Dainton and Brain-Drain Reports. May I be permitted by the noble Lord and others to take up his particular point about the Second Report of the Council for Scientific Policy, because that Report and others have drawn attention to the matter to which, in rising to address your Lordships for the first time, I wish to call attention.
I have in mind not only the need pointed out by this Motion for a greater or, at any rate, an intensive allocation of national resources to research; I should like also to refer to the application of research to natural resources and, indeed, to our national assets. How sadly we, as a nation, take these for granted is perhaps not generally recognised, although we have had the discovery of North Sea gas and the identification of potash deposits in Yorkshire and in the Highlands to remind us of their importance. But how casually we take our national assets, which deserve greater research, is shown by the fact that to-day, 928 134 years after the Geological Survey was established, we still do not possess a 6-inch geological survey map in solid and drift editions of every part of these Islands, let alone an aero-magnetic survey.
In this matter I have an interest to declare because in my practice as a consultant in economic geography, advising companies on location, I am concerned at every turn with natural resources. The problem of our natural resources and their neglect has concerned Committee after Committee since the war. Some ten years ago the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) set up the Elgood Committee to survey this field. They, in turn, convened a symposium of thinkers whose thoughts were with some difficulty compressed into a quite substantial volume. They not only identified a whole range of quarters where natural resources demanded research, but also recommended that there should be established a National Resources Association which would do two things: catalogue our assets in terms of natural resources and watch out for new industrial and commercial applications as fresh cost-benefit combinations and multiple-use opportunities became apparent. That idea reappeared in the recommendations of the Trend Committee on Civil Science, which suggested that we might well establish an Industrial Research Development Association, But, alas! that idea evaporated in the white heat of technological misjudgment as Mintech, chose to pursue its rather prosaic preference for machine tools, telecommunications, electronics and computers.
We neglect natural resources at our peril, not least if we have regard to the under-active areas of Britain, whether they be the Highlands and Borders of Scotland, the North of England, Wales, South-West Britain, or indeed an area like the sad little Grewash Valley of the Midlands. I take it that "Neddy's" second Report, Conditions Favourable to Faster Growth, published six years ago, established the need in terms of the national, United Kingdom, interests for extensive investment in those areas. Certainly the balance of payments subsequently has done nothing to weaken or diminish that case. If we as a country are to recover our influence in the world it will be, morals and morale apart, 929 thanks to our economic and industrial power. We simply cannot afford to have sick areas of the country. We simply cannot afford to have our natural resources and our national assets ignored, instead of conserved and developed.
Only this past week a Select Committee in another place has recommended extensive investment in the production of carbon fibres, the idea itself issuing from years of research. The petrochemicals industry, which we know to-day and which is worth millions in export, is the product of research set in motion some thirty years ago. What, then, of some of the opportunities for natural resources research picked out by the Elgood Committee a decade ago, yet still ignored? If petro-chemicals, why not chemicals from wood, from sugar beet, from some of our biological resources, including surplus milk—perhaps not a very happy allusion on the clay of the Price Review, but never mind! What about some of our biological resources which deserve consideration, conservation and development? There are quite simple, modest ideas—if you like, "off-beat" ideas—like the cultivation of beavers for fur or of bog-birch for wood inlay on ground in the Highlands and elsewhere too sick and soggy for normal afforestation. What about peat, if only for thermal insulation? What about even the modest worm, farmed by the multi-multi-millions for export to reactivate desert land in hungry places? What about waste? What about making stock feed out of surplus skim-milk, and out of fish and slaughterhouse offal which at present is tossed away? These again are natural resources and national assets.
Not many weeks ago the noble Lord, Lord Energlyn, who I am glad to see has put his name down to speak this afternoon, reminded the House of the possibilities of waste. He spoke of the copper, zinc and lead to be had from the colliery bings in Scotland and the tips of England and Wales; of the alkali and valuable trace metals to be had from the slate tips of Wales; the mica to be had from the koalin tips of Cornwall; of the pummice to be won from industrial waste. All these, surely, are assets that merit research.
And what about some of our topographical assets? What about our cli- 930 mate, so often considered to be inclement? The gale force winds, the scouring tides of the Pentland Firth—could we not harness these to the dispersal of effluent, smoke and smell? What about the deep water? we have the Thames, the Clyde, the Humber and the Tees vying for waterside industrial investment. What about the deepest water of all, the six-mile channel, 20 fathoms deep, in Loch Eriboll, on the North coast of Scotland, the very base as it were of the Great Circle submarine, sub-polar freight route of tomorrow from industrial Europe to the industrial Asia? What about some lesser considered topographical assets we have whether they be the minor barrage opportunities, such as Duddon Bay, in Cumberland, the mud flats at Harwich and Spurn Bight —crying out for a harbour wall; places where there is a rise and fall of the tide of 14 feet, such as at Loch Bain, on Eddrachillis Bay, up in Assynt, in Sutherland, where there is a tidal flow crying out to be harnessed for a tidal pumped-storage hydro? These are all natural resources; they are national assets demanding research.
What about our Regional Economic Planning Councils? It seems that they have no mandate to look at natural resources in depth. Certainly they have no natural resources member as such, appointed to each of them, although some of them enjoy the company of a geographer within their number. Would it not be possible for the Department of Economic Affairs to invite the Regional Economic Councils to imitate the Elgood Committee by getting together a body of like thinkers to report on the natural resources in each area, watching put for new opportunities as economic occasions determine and change? What about inviting our regional universities to set up panels to look at natural resources and consider possible uses? They could begin with a score of geological studies brought together by the host cities when the British Association has foregathered for one of its annual conferences. These are merely examples of the kind of natural resource which I believe w: could look at and into which we could really research—natural resources which we neglect at our peril.
The case that I should like to introduce into this debate, my Lords, since 931 it is, after all, one not only on the Swann Report, but on the allocation of resources to research, is that we apply research to resources; that we develop a wholly catholic and (shall I say?) active policy of review, always bearing in mind that to use our resources wisely, to enjoy them fully, and to hand them on to future generations enhanced and improved, demands a coherent, a virile and versatile policy of review, recovery and research.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ LORD KINGS NORTON
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to take the opportunity of being the first to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, on his maiden speech in your Lordships' House. We have listened to a speech of great eloquence and knowledge, and I hope that we shall have the benefit of both in the years to come.
I should like to add my thanks to those that the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, has already received for opening the debate this afternoon. His Motion draws attention to a most important document. It is one that I read with great interest, and I found myself in agreement with many of the views it expressed. What I found curious, however, was the lack of indication of the extent to which the developments proposed in some of the most important and, to me, the most acceptable of those recommendations were already in hand. There are at least two considerable educational organisations in the United Kingdom, with which I am personally concerned, working on the lines indicated by some of the most important of the Committee's recommendations. I feel that it would have been a great advantage to all of us interested in higher education if their work, and indeed that of other institutions known to be working on similar lines, had been appraised in the context of the recommendations in the Report.
If I may come to the things of which I have special knowledge, in 1956 there was brought into being the National Council for Technological Awards, with the objective of providing awards of degree level to students in colleges of technology who achieved the necessary standards. These, in the following few years, proved to be in every case honours standards, and the courses, for the successful completion of which the 932 Diploma in Technology was given, had a most important characteristic: they were all sandwich courses. Most, but not all, of these provided for alternate half years in college and industry.
In 1956 the sandwich course was certainly not unknown, but it was uncommon. The result of the work of the new Council, in conjunction with the colleges associated with it, and with industry, which was also well represented on its boards and committees, was to bring into increasing popularity this form of education. It meant virtually simultaneously education for the academic and practical part of a profession, and I believe that it is increasingly influential in changing attitudes to higher education in scientific and particularly in technological fields. The Swann Report, so far as I can discover, does not discuss the sandwich course either as a piece of educational experience or in its influence in changing attitudes, to which in Chapter VIII they devote several paragraphs. The Report concludes this section of its discussion with these words:…we look forward to the day when all science, technology and engineering students gain some broad understanding of the society in which they will work. Only in this way can our educational system produce a well-balanced output of such graduates.I suggest that the well-constructed sandwich course goes a very long way towards doing just this, and this is undoubtedly the view of a number of highly experienced educators.
During the eight-year period of the existence of the National Council of Technology Awards, ten of the leading colleges of technology were designated colleges of advanced technology and concentrated solely on work of undergraduate and similar status. There is no doubt that these places of learning developed, under highly experienced direction, on the basis of the N.C.T.A. sandwich courses in the most extraordinary way. They were given a great opportunity. They took it, and have boldly ignored the older convention of full-time study for degrees.
I now come to an important point. When, as a result of the Robbins Report of 1963, these ten CATS became universities, and so became detached from the N.C.T.A., they did not abandon their sandwich courses and turn to the convention of full-time study in technological subjects. So far as I am aware, their 933 policy has remained the same. I do not mean that, in so far as they have introduced Arts and sociological subjects into their curricula now that they have attained university status, they have made all these sandwich courses, too. With a few exceptions, I believe they have not displaced sandwich courses. But I think it might well be a good thing if they did. Arts and sociological students are as much in need of gaining, to use the Swann words, abroad understanding of the society in which they will work",as are engineers and other technologists; and, as I have said, the sandwich course is a great aid to broad understanding.
Now, my Lords, when the CATS achieved their apotheosis, the National Council for Technology Awards lost two-thirds of its clientele. But the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, had dealt with this difficulty in his Report. He and his colleagues summed up the work of the N.C.T.A. as being so successful that they recommended that the N.C.T.A. system of awards for work of university standard in colleges not universities should be extended by a new council, called the council for National Academic Awards, beyond the scientific and technological fields into any area to which it could be satisfactorily applied. Further, under the new Council, successful students would receive degrees. And so to-day, my Lords, because the Robbins' recommendation was implemented, we find young people studying in colleges and polytechnics for degrees carrying the conventional B.A. and B.Sc. labels, not only in the conventional disciplines, but in business studies, ceramics, librarianship, nautical studies, printing technology, quantity surveying, public administration and other professional areas. In many cases these, too, are sandwich courses. There is even a sandwich course in law. To-day there are 15,500 people studying for Council of National Academic Award degrees, a complement greater than that of any British university, I think, except the University of London.
It seems to me strange that this great development of the sandwich course, in which there is such potential for further change and so much of social interest, should have received little notice in the Report of the Swann Committee. Conceivably I am biased, because, declaring my 934 interest, I am not only the first Chairman of the C.N.A.A., but I was the last Chairman of the N.C.T.A. But I feel a little disappointed—and my eminent colleagues on the Council also feel disappointed—when the fact that we are actually doing some of the good things which the Swann Report recommends should be done is not given some prominence. For example, the Council's scheme already provides opportunities for personnel employed in industry to work for its research degrees, and the great majority of the programmes being carried out in colleges involve collaboration with industry or are related to industrial interests. There are at present 475 candidates registered for research degrees, and of these 371 have industrial supervision. I do not know whether your Lordships find these figures at all impressive. If not, they may become impressive when it is remembered that the Council is only four years old and first published its regulations for research degrees less than three years ago.
An important section of the Swann Report is that headed "Policy for Postgraduate Studies"—paragraphs 131 to 134. A number of the suggestions in those paragraphs are covered by the Council's existing schemes—for example, a greater emphasis on post-graduate courses which are vocationally aimed, and the participation of industry in planning and teaching on post-graduate courses. The Council is indeed in a strong position to help to meet any need which exists for courses consisting of relatively short periods of post-graduate and post-experience education and training. It probably could frame regulations enabling graduates to qualify for a higher degree by following a series of short related courses of study, even over art extended period.
I hope your Lordships will forgive what might be thought to be propaganda on behalf of the educational organisation of which I am Chairman. I suppose it is. But I have realised that, despite our public relations efforts, people are only dimly aware of the work which is going on. At any rate, having been a little critical, may I say how much I agree with a great deal of the Swann Report. I agree, for example, despite the persuasive opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, with the proposed shift of emphasis in 935 favour of more broadly-based first degrees in science, engineering and technology. So far, in the Council for National Academic Awards there are no first degree courses of this broad character—not in the sense of producing the so-called science-based generalists—but the Council is very well placed to encourage the development of such courses, and has decided to start to do so. I should indeed like to feel that the Council for National Academic Awards could be seen as an ideal instrument to implement other of the Swann proposals.
I should like to comment, on the statement at the beginning of Chapter VII, that in the context of our present manpower troubles we require that the educational system should produce persons of high ability who are willing to apply their talents in industry and the schools, and not, as at present, almost exclusively in higher education and pure research.
As one who has in the past employed large numbers of graduates in an industry not superficially very glamorous, I found that we got more first-class honours people from among our own student apprentices, educated on sandwich courses, than by recruiting from full-time courses in the universities. Secondly, these sandwich people were immediately employable on graduation, whereas the full-timers had to have quite lengthy periods of practical training after being engaged. I believe that extension of the sandwich system in such ways that the young men and women learn at firsthand of the opportunities, the charms and the satisfactions of professional careers in industry while they are being educated, would be one of the most effective contributions towards solving some of the problems with which the Swann Report deals.
And now, my Lords, if your Lordships can bear with me a few minutes longer, I want to speak of another and quite different educational institution and to take as my text two phrases from the Summary of Recommendations in Chapter XII of the Swann Report. In paragraph 2 of that chapter we read:There should therefore be a change of emphasis towards shorter periods of postgraduate study and the trend from research to advanced course work should be accelerated. The proportion of students following postgraduate studies after a period in employment 936 (that is, post-experience students) should increase rapidly".May I add that for many years a great contribution to this trend has taken place at Cranfield. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has told us of some considerable activity in the same direction at Cardiff. These things are going on. I have reason to believe that at Cranfield also we are not well known to your Lordships, and I feel I cannot escape some responsibility for that because I am Chairman of the Governors there.
I should like to tell your Lordships that Cranfield began a quarter of a century ago as the College of Aeronautics. It is still officially called the College of Aeronautics, but to-day two-thirds of its work is in advanced engineering, advanced technology and management studies, and it is likely soon to be called the Cranfield Institute of Technology. Its work has always been wholly postgraduate. Its longest courses last for two years; its shortest courses for a few weeks. I will not bore your Lordships with the development of this unique establishment, entry to which requires a good degree or a professional equivalent. The point I want to make strongly is that there are to-day and every day over 500 people working in this place, over 90 per cent. of whom are post-experience students—mature people doing just what is recommended in paragraph 15 of Chapter XII, in which it is said:In due course universities should come to regard as part of their normal provision post-experience courses for mature scientists, engineers and technologists.What universities should come to regard in due course as part of their normal provision has been the normal provision at Cranfield for a quarter of a century. For the first half of that time the work was pretty well exclusively in the field of aeronautics, but latterly, as I have already said, it has spread over a whole spectrum of management, engineering and technological activities.
That paragraph of the chapter which I have mentioned continues:Employers should be closely involved in the mounting of post-experience courses so that successful completion is linked with career prospects".That, too, describes quite precisely what has long happened at Cranfield. Not only are employers concerned with the character of the courses; they are concerned 937 with the character of the researches and the projects which are done at Cranfield, and great companies maintain a continuous stream of people through the college.
So just for once, my Lords, I think we are already doing in this country what we are told we ought to be doing. The situation is not so bad as the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, appeared to think it was when he was speaking a few minutes ago. I suggest that it is most fortunate that we already have here two strong and growing organisations which have for some time been doing some of the things which the Swann Report recommends; and I believe that the experience of these organisations, and of the others where similar policies operate but of which I have not so intimate a knowledge, can be of the greatest value to the universities and polytechnics and colleges which are anxious to do as the Swann Report proposes.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ LORD MAIS
My Lords, as I also am a comparatively new Member of this noble House, may I presume to add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, on his maiden speech and to say that if this was a maiden effort we look forward to some outstanding performances in the future.
My Lords, I hope I shall not appear to be over-critical of the Swann Report, for that most certainly is not my intention. It is not so much what is in the Report but what is not in the Report which causes me concern. It is supposed to deal with the flow of engineers and scientists into employment, and in this connection I feel that it covers a comparatively narrow field. So far as I am concerned—and I speak from the point of view of an engineer, not a scientist—it certainly does not really deal with the problem of engineers. I am leaving out any reference to scientists—I am not one —but I have been an engineer for nearly forty years and have some slight knowledge of the requirements of an engineer, particularly the training, the manner in which he should qualify and the course that he should follow after he has qualified in the form of post-graduate education.
I appreciate that there is a very great demand for engineers and scientists in education and in research. Nevertheless, 938 possibly there is even greater demand for them in industry. I find myself rather following the line of the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, for the Report states that 50 per cent. of the technologists and 10 per cent. of the scientists come from sources other than universities. If your Lordships will turn to paragraph 17 on page 6 of the Report you will see that in fact it repeats virtually what I have said:Half of the technologists and ate-tenth of the scientists qualifying in 1966 did so through routes other than university degrees … These routes are important, especially since quite different patterns of employment would almost certainly be found for persons who qualify through them.Now I come to the point that really worries me. To continue the quotation from the Report:Information was not available that would have enabled us to include these persons in the picture of flow.I am not quite certain what "picture of flow" means; it conjures up to me pictures of a rippling brook, but I am quite sure that is not what was intended. The fact remains that this Report did not take into account 50 per cent. of the engineers who qualified in 1966, and I suspect that if we took the years 1967 and 1968 it could even be more.
As the Report did not deal with it, may we consider for a moment the ways in which a young man can become an engineer? There are in fact three ways. The first way is covered in the Swann Report: he goes to university and he does a full-time course, at the end of which he gets an engineering degree. As I think the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, said, he is then not really trained, and before he can become a corporate member of his institution he has to do two years with a professional firm or in industry, at the end of which he must produce a thesis or a testimony of studies, and go for an oral. If he succeeds in those, then—and then only—does he become a corporate member of his professional institution.
The second way is through the advanced colleges of technology, where until recently he obtained a diploma of technology, which was the equivalent of a degree and gave him similar exemptions from his professional examination. Now they will turn over to the C.N.A.A. degree, with the same effect. These 939 courses at the advanced colleges of technology can be taken in the form of a sandwich course, and from my experience sandwich courses—or part-time courses, which I will come to in a moment—are probably the best for engineers.
Then there is the third and last way, and again from my experience by far the greater number of engineers have qualified, do qualify and may well continue for several years to come to qualify, through this particular source. I refer to the technical colleges. Thousands of young men go to these technical colleges to take part-time courses, with the object either of sitting the professional examination of their institution direct, or of taking ordinary national certificates, higher national certificates or higher national diplomas which give them partial exemption from their professional examinations. It is a long, hard course which usually takes about five or six years, but it produces a practical and excellent engineer.
May we now review the position as it is at the moment? If we are to give this Report proper consideration we cannot do so in the splendid isolation of university candidates only. The Report states that a substantial number of leading engineers to-day qualified by taking the examinations of the professional institutions and not a university degree. I would say that the majority of them in fact did it by means of a part-time course. That is confirmed in the Report, and I will quote it because it adds something to which I have not already referred. I am quoting from paragraph 40 on page 20:… in the past, many of the best"—engineers, and I emphasise "best"—have attained their professional qualifications through non-degree courses. If recent trends continue, industry will have increasingly torely for the future on graduates from universities or from C.N.A.A. Why should this be? I do not agree at all. Personally I do not believe that the output of engineers from universities will drastically increase during the next five years, and as far as C.N.A.A. graduates— if you like to call them that—are concerned, they are really taking the place of the old holders of diplomas in technology; and here, again, although there will be an increase it will not have a marked 940 effect on the availability for industry. Therefore we come back to the technical colleges, and it is upon those that, in my opinion, industry will rely for at least another five years—and longer, I hope—for the main source of supply of their engineers.
Secondly, there is the type of student for whom a part-time course is far more suitable than three years' full-time study, particularly in engineering, where they can spend part of their time in industry seeing the work done, and part of it learning the academic and theoretical side. If we are in any doubt about this, may I say that there are at this moment 86,000 students studying engineering and science at technical colleges and polytechnics. They are following the higher national diploma and higher national certificate courses, but in spite of the obvious need for this type of course— and there would not be 86,000 students taking it if there were not a great need —there is a trend and a tendency to do away with this part-time form of education, not only from the educationists' point of view but also, I regret to say, from the point of view of the professional institutions.
The professional institutions are now requiring what virtually amounts to a university standard: they are asking for two "A" levels—and that is a minimum—before they will accept the boy or young man as a student. They are also saying—and it will come into being quite soon—that it will not be possible to obtain a professional qualification unless the student has done a full-time course comparable to a university course. May we just think for a moment what this means? It means that a young man virtually will not be able to qualify unless he is prepared to do two or three years full time. This will knock out straight away the late developer, the young man who leaves school perhaps earlier than he would like to, the young man who perhaps takes three or four years to make up his mind whether he wants to be an engineer; and what to me is much more important is the fact that it practically cripples the boy or young man who starts on the tools or on the bench as an apprentice and after he has done two or three years either has the ambition to go on or is picked out by his employer as one who is fit 941 to go on. By that time he will be nigh on 20 or 21, and in these days of early marriage he could well be married.
As a top apprentice in his last year he will be earning something like £18 or £19 a week, if he is good. With the old part-time course it was possible, if the employer thought it right, to continue to give him a day release plus two evenings a week, and over another five years he could become a qualified engineer. But it will be a very different story if in the future he is asked to forgo his £18 a week or more as a craftsman and to take a grant (if he can get it) for what it is worth, and go back to two or three year's full-time course. My bet is that very few of them will do it. This disturbs me very much indeed. I would go even further and put the clock completely the other way; that is, have a number of places reserved at universities for young men to be allowed to gain entry on a higher national certificate, with nothing to do with "A" levels at all, because so many of them may not have a chance to get them. I believe this could be done; I do not know whether in fact it is being done, but it is a matter of urgency and it should be.
The object of this debate, though it may be I have wandered a little, is the additional flow of engineers and scientists into employment. May I raise one point which I think may have a discouraging effect on some young men taking up engineering? There is the feeling, perhaps not widespread but it is there, with young men taking up either scientific or engineering degrees that there is an uncertainly about promotion to the higher echelons of management. I do not mean head of a technical department in their own particular line, but I mean administrative management at the head of their business. This applies equally in Government Departments as in industry. I have yet to find a Permanent Secretary who started in a technical department of Government service. It may be I have been unlucky and missed them, but they certainly have not been in the Ministry of Public Building and Works, which I should have thought a very suitable place for them.
It is essential that those among the scientists and engineers who have the ability and the necessary qualities are 942 given the opportunity to rise to higher appointments, and I hope that is what the Swann Report had in mind irk paragraph 4, Chapter XII, where it says:Industry should vigorously recruit persons qualified in science, engineering and technology, especially the ablest graduates in these fields; should see that they are fully and effectively employed, and that attractive and challenging careers are open to them.I entirely agree. I would add one thing: why limit it to the ablest graduates? There are other people who are equally able among engineers and scientists who are not necessarily graduates.
Possibly one reason why an insufficient number of engineers rise as high as they would like is because of the degree courses and the general professional examinations for engineers. They confine themselves almost entirely to technical subjects; and I am pleased to say the Swann Report does refer to this in paragraph 13, Chapter XII. It suggests that other subjects, such as economics, sociology and law should be introduced. I would add two more, because they represent one of the weaknesses of engineers, as I know to my cost, and they are a knowledge of business finance and a knowledge of business management. You cannot go very far during a university course, but you can teach students the rudiments and whet their appetite or open their eyes to the fact that being a good engineer is not necessarily enough.
To sumnaarise, so far as engineers are concerned, now that the professional institutions have followed the same line as the university as regards full-time courses and have raised their entry levels I am extremely worried about the provision of engineers. I believe that if we are not careful, if this is followed through to the end, we shall finish up with fewer engineers, not more. Secondly, and this point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, do universities really have a close enough liaison with industry? So far as the technical colleges and the colleges of advanced technology are concerned, they have a strong representation of industry on their boards of governors, and those boards meet—certainly the one I am on does—once a month, and there is a very close liaison between industry and the educational staff of the college. I should like to see this carried a little further with the universities.
943 Lastly—and I will not burden your Lordships for long—may I go back to where I started, and that is Chapter II, paragraph 17, page 6, and I will repeat it again:Information was not available that would have enabled us"—that is, the Swann Committee—to include these persons …. We hope future studies will do this."These persons" are the ones I have been referring to. They are the part-time students, the students who take sandwich courses, the students who do not go to university. I beg those who have the power to do so to see that another study takes place, and it should take place as a matter of urgency. If and when this study is undertaken it should include among its members a reasonable representation from industry, and its terms of reference should be such as to allow them to review the whole situation, and not just a part of it.
I feel that the Swann Committee were unfortunately restricted by their terms of reference. I would say, in case I have appeared to be over-critical, that having regard to the limitations placed upon them it was an excellent Report and a great contribution to engineering and science. May I also say how grateful I am to my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones for giving us an opportunity to debate this subject, and in particular for giving me an opportunity to ride a rather favourite hobby-horse of mine in this noble House.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, may I first say how grateful I, too, am to my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones for introducing this debate, and may I also, before going further, congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, on a most interesting maiden speech. I should like to devote my attention largely to certain general matters arising from the Swann Report. I must confess that the Swann Report seems to me to be a little like the curate's egg; it is good in parts. I find I agree with some of it, but I am distinctly critical of certain aspects. The Report very properly draws attention to a number of problems—the need for more graduates in industry with scientific and especially engineering training, the short 944 age of school science teachers, and the dangers of undue specialisation in university courses—and it seeks to offer suggestions as to how these might be tackled.
The problems themselves, of course, have been recognised for years, and we have had warnings about them repeatedly sounded by all kinds of bodies and individuals. It is extremely difficult to get precise information about even the extent of these problems, still less to find the reasons for their very existence. So much is admitted in many parts of the text of the Swann Report, and more study of the various factors is frequently suggested. The inadequacy of statistical information is also admitted. These admissions, however, do not prevent the authors from in some cases making rather sweeping generalisations and on them basing recommendations, some of which, at least to my mind, convey to lay readers—and these include many civil servants and politicians—impressions that are misleading and could in certain circumstances be dangerous.
I shall not bore your Lordships by quoting at length all the points which could be faulted, but I would just mention one or two things which rather worry me and which I think worry a number of other scientists and technologists. Although it is admitted in the Introduction to the Report that the statistics of qualified scientists and engineers are confined to those graduating from universities, and omit the 25 per cent.—or, in the case of engineers, as the noble Lord, Lord Mais, said, nearly 50 per cent.—qualifying by other routes, and it is also admitted that there are wide variations, not only between science and technology but between individual subjects in each area, these facts tend to get blurred and at times forgotten in the later parts of the Report where attempts are made to pull everything together and to generalise. It seems to me, too, that too little attention has been paid to the difference which exists between different universities as regards their courses and the different levels of their entrants.
As an example of the danger of generalisation, I may mention that there is a tendency in the Report to compare university practice in Britain rather unfavourably with its American counterpart with regard to the flow of graduates into 945 industry. If one looks at specific cases it is rather interesting to note that the Cambridge engineering school produced 145 Ph.D.s between 1965 and 1968. The present employment of 121 of these is known and the distribution is: industry 62 per cent., university or other teaching 30 per cent. and other employment 8 per cent. That is the pattern of employment distribution used in the Swann Report. The output from Princeton, which is an American school of similar size and type to Cambridge, over the period 1961 to 1968 has a corresponding distribution of 40 per cent. in industry, 40 per cent. in university teaching and 20 per cent. in other kinds of employment. I know, too, that the figures from my own chemistry department in Cambridge differ quite substantially from the alleged national average figures quoted in the Swann Report.
Although I do not think the Report adds materially to our knowledge of the problems it discusses, I do not wish to be merely destructive. All of these problems are important, and it is only right that we should seek a solution to them. As the Swann Report rightly recognises, all of them are grounded in our educational patterns, which, like our social attitudes, seem to be rather slow to change —perhaps too slow for the times in which we live. Our educational system has been built up over a long period into a kind of pyramid, and the result has been that our universities, at least in the pre-Robbins period, were meant to be highly selective instruments for extending the frontiers of knowledge by research and for imparting knowledge and inspiration at the highest level to what I suppose could be called an intellectual élite selected through the school system.
This pattern is seen in its most highly developed form in England and Wales—somewhat less so in Scotland. It may have been marred by poor selection—in fact, it was doubtless marred by poor selection—and no doubt an appreciable, though not in my opinion a large, pool of high talent was missed. But its object was clear enough, and our academic record shows that, by and large, it worked. It inevitably brought in its train the specialised Honours degree, and in turn that caused specialisation to creep inexorably downwards into the schools. It is because of this system that we always appear to have a much smaller proportion 946 of our young people going to university than do other countries which employ different patterns of education in which selection is made at a much later stage.
Now what has happened to us? The Robbins Report called for a great increase in higher education, and action was taken to create a mass of new universities and to increase rapidly the number of students. By and large, we have done this, or tried to do it, by duplicating in all these universities our traditional pattern of specialised university education, with its emphasis on scholarship and research. That pattern was designed for only a small proportion of each age group, and it simply is not suitable for the majority of people who are now entering the universities. This, incidentally, is probably one of the factors involved in student unrest.
The Swann Report recommends that universities should look to their courses. That is quite proper. It also recommends that they should undertake a fundamental re-examination of the Ph.D. There is nothing wrong with the Ph.D. in science and technology when it is properly used. It is meant to provide rigorous training in, and experience of, original research for the ablest students who have the capacity for creative work and why will go, in most cases, into research and development, in industry or into university work.
These are the real élite on whom we depend for leadership and advances in science and technology, in industry as well as at the universities. They are vitally important to this nation and they must be given every opportunity to develop their talents to the full. Their number is relatively small. I doubt myself whether it amounts to as much as 10 per cent. of those now entering our universities. At the present time of great expansion in the number of our universities, and with the desire of all to develop large research schools, I have little doubt that we are pushing considerably more than this proportion through the Ph.D. courses.
For those in excess of my, roughly, 10 per cent. and for many other currently taking science or engineering courses some other form of training would be preferable. This, again, is a view which is expressed in the Swami Report, and it is implicit in a good number 947 of the recommendations. But I do not believe that the answer for such students is to be found simply in advanced courses unless these advanced courses include an element of research. The educational value of even a small experience of research should not be underestimated. Courses can impart facts, but experience of research teaches people how to approach problems. I believe that my views on this will be shared by many industrialists.
I have recently had to spend a great deal of time acting as Chairman of the Royal Commission on Medical Research, a task, incidentally, which in the last two and a half years has made my participation in the work of your Lordships' House less frequent than I would have wished. In studying medical education, I was repeatedly struck by the close similarities between medical education and engineering education, and I wonder whether we ought not perhaps to consider the pattern that my Commission have recommended for medicine as something which might be applied almost equally to engineering and, with some modifications, perhaps to science and technology in general.
We have proposed—I put this quite briefly—that the undergraduate medical course should be made much more flexible than it now is by moving over to a unit type of course; that is to say, a unit system containing a wide range of electives so that the varying interests and inclinations of individual students can be given much more scope than they are at present. We recommend that on completion of this general course the undergraduate undergoes, say, a three-year course of professional training in which he would pursue a highly organised course of in-service and university training appropriate to his future professional interests; that is to say, whether he proposed to be a surgeon, a general practitioner or what-have-you.
This course of training, we reckon, should be organised and controlled jointly by the universities and the profession. I believe that this type of thing is not dissimilar from what the authors of the Swann Report may have been thinking about. Why should we not adopt something of this type? Why should we not adopt it for engineering in the universities and extend it, with appropriate 948 modifications, to other fields of science and technology? There have indeed, already been some interesting moves in this direction in some of the technical colleges and technological universities. My noble friend Lord Kings Norton has already drawn attention to a number of things which bear a relation to this and which are in progress. I do not myself use the phrase "sandwich course". To be quite frank, I do not much like the expression.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, postgraduate vocational training of this type, of course, presents some difficulties—this we know—but surely these can be surmounted as they have been in certain individual cases. The reason I do not like this term "sandwich courses" is that I am not proposing simply that a man should spend some time in industrial employment and some time at a university. What I envisage is a three-year course in which the nature and the content of both the industrial and the academic components is carefully controlled, and I would hope that at some point during this three-year period there would be some experience of research offered to the man taking it. Of course, I know it is always possible to raise the bogey of industrial security when this sort of thing is proposed, but I think it really is only a bogey, and that it should not be allowed to block the way forward; because if we had courses of this type more widespread than we have them now we should get a readier flow of recruits into industry—something which of course we should all like to see.
The specialised training to the Ph.D., by research, would still continue more or less as we know it now, and it would continue for the small group of the more gifted people I mentioned earlier. But, of course, if such students are to have proper opportunities they must get them in research schools that are large enough to be viable and in association with others of like quality in other fields. This, it seems to me, points clearly to the development of at least two types of university. There will be a few large universities that stand out as the spearheads of specialist training and research, with large graduate schools, and there will be others that will concentrate largely on 949 generalised unit type courses, and perhaps with this mixed industry/university type training at post-graduate level.
This kind of differentiation between universities is, of course, not new; it can be seen in other countries—for example in the United States. I am sure we must come to this change. If we persist in trying to run all the universities that we now have in this country on our traditional pattern, we shall achieve, at the very best, a general level of mediocrity—and mediocrity is one of the things this country cannot afford at the present time.
My Lords, in December, 1963, we debated the Robbins Report in this House. On that occasion I was virtually alone in criticising certain aspects of the Report that had a good deal to do with the subject we are discussing to-day, and I also criticised what I considered was the rather euphoric attitude of the main Political Parties to that Report. I predicted some of the troubles that have followed from its adoption. I said at the time that its implementation would lead us inevitably to a position in which we should have to accept a hierarchy among universities in which a few would be institutions at a very high level and the others would do much more general work and less research—rather like the suggestion I have just made for science and technology, but I did at the time extend it to cover all fields of higher education. I must say that to-day, more than five years later, I find little to change and much to reinforce the views which I then expressed.
Finally, the Swann Report discusses the teacher shortage. For this, there is no easy solution. It is not simply a question of salary. The trouble is that many people do not regard school teaching as a congenial occupation, and it is just about as naïve to think that people can be forced into uncongenial occupations by offering slight increases in salary as it is to think it can be done by denying to them the opportunity to do something else, like research, which they may prefer to do. One of the troubles is that the desire to teach among those who enter the universities on an Honours course in science is small, and the pattern of all Honours courses is such that by the time they have finished the course all but the most determined have had the 950 desire to teach either blunted or completely removed.
I do not believe that we shall get any answer here until science is taught to everyone in schools as a normal cultural subject, on all fours with subjects like English and history, and until at least one science subject comes to be regarded as a natural, and indeed a necessary, component of any general arts courses in the universities or in the training colleges. I do not myself believe that a highly specialised training in an individual science is necessary for any but a very small amount of the most advanced work in schools, and I think that a generally trained person, a person with a general arts course and one science subject, could meet most of the needs quite adequately. I think that, my Lords, because when it comes to interesting children in science and technology, or indeed in anything else, how they are taught is a great deal more important than what they are taught.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ LORD STAMP
My Lords, along with other noble Lords who have already spoken, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for initiating this debate. Before commencing my remarks, I should like to express my regret that owing to a previous engagement I shall not be able to be present at the later stages of the debate.
There are two problems referred to in the Report before us on which I should like to touch. The first is the swing away from science in our schools, referred to in passing, and the second is the inter-related problem of the shortage of high-class scientists to teach in our schools; and the importance of both of these problems has been discussed by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, when opening this debate. As he pointed out, they are the crux of the matter we are discussing this afternoon. Just over a year ago we debated science policy and manpower, and in that debate I referred to the need for more information to be given to young people about careers. This subject is of such importance, not only in relation to to-day's debate but also for the future happiness of every boy and girl, whatever career he or she may be thinking of taking up, that I feel I must return to it to-day—in the first place, if I may, in general terms.
951 I cannot help feeling that much of the unrest and indiscipline among students that is giving rise to so much concern at the present time is due to the fact that they have never been given a definite aim in life. Many, when choosing a career —one of the most important decisions in life—may have only a fragmentary and superficial knowledge of all the options that are open to them—in particular, of the opportunities to do work that is useful as well as interesting. Some seem to make the decision almost by chance, depending perhaps on the personality and influence of a teacher.
Indecision about a career appears to be increasing, according to a Report recently published by the Public Schools Appointments Bureau. Of those leaving the public schools last year, 18 per cent. had not decided on a career. This compares with 11 per cent. in 1963, 16 per cent. in 1965, and 17 per cent. in 1967. As the Report points out, this trend probably reflects the increasing numbers opting for the arts, many of whom at that stage will not yet have made up their minds—the tendency in fact which is at the root of the problem we are discussing.
Schools, of course, vary greatly in the amount of instruction they give on careers. Some, for example, arrange discussion groups of teachers, parents, pupils and visiting authorities. But even the most advanced cannot hope to cover all aspects of the subject adequately in the time at present devoted to it. The subject is so important that I feel it ought to be an integral part of the curriculum, commencing preferably at the age of about fifteen, when the pupils will have to decide what main ladder or stream they will follow for the remaining years of their school life.
During that year, the student would receive instruction, perhaps followed by some form of examination, on a wide range of careers. This might be followed by less general instruction appropriate to the stream chosen. Instruction might be by books, through visiting lecturers, but particularly—as I mentioned in the debate a year ago—by the greater use of films. These might be produced under the direction of professional and other official organisations and covering the widest possible range of careers. They would give some indication as to what 952 would be involved in study later on at school or university, career prospects, and above all, the contribution that he or she might make to the community. Use might also be made of the new Polytel videotape for use with television sets.
Such a series of films, if they were to be comprehensive, including some time in each devoted to question and answer, and if they were to be regularly brought up to date, would be expensive, but their value would be out of all proportion to their cost. If, in these days of financial stringency, the cost could not be met, at least fully, from Government sources, here is an opportunity for a private philanthropist or foundation. I can think of few ways of spending money that would have such far-reaching effects for good. For many young people the future would begin to make some sense. Not only would such great professions as those of medicine and nursing be brought to life, but also the less publicised fields of biological science applied to food production and population control that are so vital if we are to meet the threat of world famine to which the noble Lord, Lord Snow, referred so movingly in the debate a year ago.
A career in technology could be shown to be what it is: a chance to make a personal contribution to the industrial prosperity of the country, on which all our hopes of raising our own standard of living and aiding the under-privileged countries of the world must depend. A career as a science teacher could be shown to be what it is: a chance to attract many youngsters, by enthusiasm and the highest standards of teaching, into some of the most worthwhile walks of life. If the science teacher is to do this he must have the practical applications of his subject constantly before him, and in that sense would have to be very much a science careers master himself. A proper emphasis on the importance of the science teacher to the community would, I believe, do much to remedy the present shortage. This is not to say that many financial incentives to teach science are not also very important, as is stressed in the Report we are now discussing. I believe that preferential salaries for science teachers would be acceptable to the great bulk of the teaching profession, once it was made fully 953 aware of the issues involved. It might be that industry would help in meeting these supplementary payments in the case of individual schools. A headmaster of my acquaintance told me that he thought such contributions would be more valuable than science scholarships or bursaries for students at the present time.
My Lords, apart from the part which can be played by schools there are many other ways in which the student can be helped to choose the right career, and would not wish to minimise their importance. There are the organisations specifically set up to advise students on careers, and also articles in the Press, and in television and radio programmes, on the subject from time to time. In this connection I should like to see television used much more. A regular serial, bringing out all the interest and diversity of different scientific careers and making them live, might have as great an attraction for young people as Dixon of Dock Green has had for an older generation. Perhaps a certain Member of your Lordships' House who was here earlier this afternoon might even write the script.
For those who are already thinking of a scientific career, an association has been organised by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, known as B.A.Y.S., or the British Association of Young Scientists. This has a central headquarters, 22 branches and area committees which arrange local scientific programmes; and local branches are still being set up. It aims at giving young people the opportunity, through membership of a national scientific organisation, to become acquainted with science, and it stresses the opportunity which this provides to plan and realise programmes of instruction which they themselves want.
It is, however, not only by such means and in the schools that stimulation of an interest in the practical applications of science is so essential. This applies equally to the university—perhaps even more so as the student becomes less generalised in his approach, and if more emphasis can be placed on applied, and less on pure, research in the university, the need for which is also brought out in the Report. The Report also emphasises that it is important that the technologist destined for a career in 954 industry should have a knowledge of other fields, such as business administration and economics, if he is to be able to take advantage fully of all opportunities for advancement open to him. In general, it rightly emphasises the need for every scientist to gain some broad understanding of the society in which he will work. A greater knowledge of the careers of others, acquired during school days, would lay the foundation for this.
The value of the technologist to the community is, of course, not confined to the part he may play in improving industrial efficiency. Space technology involving the use of satellites is coming to be recognised as likely to be of the greatest value in mapping the vast areas of the world for economic and food purposes. For example, there is the possibility of the detection of oil and mineral bearing areas, of crop disease and, in the sea, of areas of plankton for the development of the fishing industry. Engineering technology also, in its contribution to the great problems of irrigating the non-fertile areas of the world, must be of vital importance in the fight to produce enough food for the expanding world population.
There seems to be a tendency by many to regard non-medical science as something soulless, unrelated to human needs, and, if it has any possible application to the military sphere, as something essentially evil. A more idealistic approach to a career in science, with the emphasis on its usefulness to ethers, would in my view do much to reverse the present trend. But the attracting of young people into a scientific canter is only one side of the coin. On the other side, when they have so chosen, there must be an adequate career structure, opportunities and facilities for research for them, particularly in the all-important applied fields, whether in industry, university or full-time research institute. In industry it must be possible for them to attain the highest level in management, particularly if they have had the broader training envisaged. In fact, in many fields this is essential if there is to be an improvement in efficiency. But I do not wish to enlarge on the place of the technologist in industry, as many of your Lordships are much more qualified to do so than I am.
955 So far as Government-financed institutes are concerned, one comes round once again to the problem of priorities in financing education and science—priorities that are so difficult to establish in these days of over-extension of the nation's educational resources. I do not intend to repeat all that I said on this subject on the last occasion, but it seems to me that the establishment of adequate priorities for all fields of applied science is vital for the future of the country, whatever has to be sacrificed in the field of higher education in this time of financial stringency. On this depends our very standards of living, our position in the world and our ability to help the underdeveloped countries in their problems, problems that are so much greater than our own.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD BOWDEN
My Lords, we have been privileged this afternoon, thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, to discuss one of the important documents of our time. It is the third of the great papers which have emanated in the last two or three years from the councils for science policy, and it has to be considered in the light of the implications of the associated documents which came out about the same time. I think it is particularly notable because it has thrown up a great many problems, many of which still lack solution, and one must not necessarily be critical of it because it has been less successful in solving the problems than it has been in isolating them.
It is a document which has had a rather unfavourable reception in some universities, I think because it has called attention to the shortcomings and complacencies of some of these institutions, and has made them realise that they are not immune from criticism as perhaps they had thought they should be. It is a document for which we should be extremely grateful and much has been said about it this afternoon with which I agree. On looking at the list of speakers I find that our debate is only half over and the hour is late. However, with your Lordships' permission I should like to refer to one or two important points which have not yet been touched upon.
I should first like to refer to the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord 956 Mais. He drew attention to the fact that of all the engineers in this country more than half have had no first-hand experience of university life. He reminded your Lordships—and it is very important that we should be reminded of this—that the system which produced so many of these men is in danger of collapse. The points which he made should be very earnestly considered by the Department of Education, which should particularly concern itself with the apparent collapse of the Higher National Certificate.
Last year in Manchester the number of students who came forward to take that examination was less than half as big as it had been only two years before. The reason is that the Higher National Certificate has lost its claim to be one stage on the route to profesional qualification, which it has had ever since it was founded twenty or thirty years ago. I regard its departure with very great misgivings, and I fear that it will deprive us of the opportunity of educating the men who are perhaps the assistants of the professional engineers, the technicians whom we so frequently and so dreadfully neglect in all our considerations of scientific manpower.
It is notorious that in every country in the world there are at least three or four, and sometimes as many as five, technicians for every professional engineer. There is what one can describe as an almost inevitable hierarchical structure of engineering organisations, and however the men in them have arrived there, four or five of them are acting as technicians for every one who is acting as a professional engineer. If you have too few technicians, the inevitable consequence is that some of your best engineers have to take on work which is not as good as that which they had expected and they have to become technicians, graduates though they may be. That is extravagant, wasteful and dangerous and it is a situation at which we seem to be arriving despite all that has been said in the past to warn us. That is perhaps a matter which is outside the terms of the Motion this afternoon, and after that brief reference I should now like to pass on to other things.
The Swann Report has drawn our attention to the controversy now raging in universities between claims of research and original scholarship on the one hand, 957 and the claims of teaching on the other. It is an extraordinary thing that this controversy was first raised, to my knowledge, about 120 years ago in Oxford, and its repercussions were such as very nearly to destroy the university in the resultant row between Mark Pattison on the one hand, and Jowett on the other. Pattison felt—and I think that nowadays we should agree with him—that a university which fails to add to the sum total of human knowledge can hardly call itself an intellectual centre at all; and Jowett believed that a man who had learned the history of the Peloponnesian war was thereby qualified to go and govern some part of the Sudan and cope with the problems of an insurgent tribe. It was his view which dominated Oxford until the beginning of this century.
The argument is a very difficult one and it has still to be resolved completely, because in the end any intellectual establishment must engage both in scholarship and in teaching, and the balance is finely drawn and constantly has to be checked. But the point to which I must address myself is the effect that this has on what I regard as the most important and perhaps the most neglected parts of the educational system; namely, the process by which a college graduate, an ordinary man who has taken a degree, is converted into a professional man. The noble Lord, Lord Todd, in referring to this aspect a few moments ago, described in outline the way in which the medical profession—which is, of course, the most highly organised and the most highly renowned of all the technologies—solves this problem by making use of the teaching hospitals and post-graduate schools of various kinds.
The same kind of thing has to be done in the education of engineers and, traditionally, the task can be done in one of two ways. The most familiar, perhaps, is the mechanism by which a young man who has taken his first degree joins a research school organised in a university, participates in the work of the research school, serves his apprenticeship to an established research worker, and learns gradually how to apply the principles which he had been studying in a rather abstract sense while he was a student. This is a mechanism which is well-known, well-established and all-important.
958 But, of course, another mechanism has been established in England for many years and I am astonished that no one has referred to it this afternoon. For very many years, almost all the engineers in this country learned to become engineers by an educational process which was divided quite sharply into two parts. They studied engineering in a university. If they went to Cambridge they called it Mechanical Sciences but, nevertheless, they studied engineering for three years. After that they joined as graduate apprentices in one of the great industrial firms. For a very long time—in fact, I think, for nearly thirty years—almost all the graduate apprentices in England went to only one firm, the great firm of Metropolitan Vickers. When one looks at the list of graduates who went through that school, it is a roll-call which includes almost every well-known engineer of his day. John Cockcroft went there before he became a physicist and a mathematician The first Lord Nelson, who founded the English Electric Company, was a graduate apprentice of Metropolitan Vickers. So was Sir Denning Pearson the present Chairman and Managing Director of Rolls Royce. So, of course, was the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, who is among us this afternoon.
This system was so famous and so successful in solving the problem to which the Swann Committeee drew our attention—namely, the problem of integrating universities and industry—that it dominated the whole educational work of this country, and it is not too much to say, of the world as a whole. Twenty-five or thirty years ago it was a commonplace to say that all the engineers of England could be divided into two categories—those who once worked in Metropolitan Vickers and those who still work there. One can hardly go to the Argentine, or elsewhere in South America or South Africa, without finding that the chief engineer of the railway or of the mine has been at Manchester at some time in his life.
This was a most dramatically successful organisation, and I think it is true to say that for the twenty years during which it was at its peak, which I would say were between, say, 1920 and 1940, it did more and spent more on the education of engineers than all the universities in this country put together. I find 959 it quite astonishing that the Swann Committee should have ignored the dramatic contributions which it made, and even more that it should have ignored the fact that this tremendously important and most successful enterprise should at this moment be collapsing in ruins. I think it true to say that the events of the last year have done more harm to the education of engineers in this country than any event that I can remember, and I doubt if any process that I can imagine can recover the ground which seems to have been lost. This year, instead of recruiting about 200 post-graduate apprentices, as has traditionally been the case, I believe the number is 10.
What is more, this is only a part of the story, my Lords, because after Lord Nelson had left Metropolitan Vickers he founded his own post-graduate school in the English Electric Company, and that, too, is in ruins at this moment. It is true to say that Rolls Royce, whose chairman was himself an apprentice at Metropolitan Vickers, has taken on about 400 young men this year—the largest number that the company has ever been able to accept. It is true, too, that the British Motor Corporation, for the first time in its history, is beginning to accept post-graduate apprentices. It is also true that other firms are doing better than they have done before. But I find it quite disquieting, to put it at its lowest, that the best school we have ever had—the school which was founded by Arthur Fleming nearly fifty years ago to do a most essential job—should collapse unlamented and almost unnoticed.
I remember that on the very first occasion on which I had the privilege of addressing your Lordships' House we were discussing the Industrial Training Bill, and that it was then obvious that the system had to be changed if only because it was unreasonable that one large firm should carry the whole cost of the education of the post-graduate apprentices for the whole of British industry. It was the hope of us all at that time that the financial provisions of the Industrial Training Bill would make it possible for the burden to be more equitably shared. But this great opportunity seems to have been lost, and I can only urge the Government that they should use such influence as they have 960 to try to see whether, even at this late stage, something can be saved from what otherwise seems to me to be a great educational and national disaster.
My Lords, we have to-day been talking about the basic problems of associating ourselves, our universities and our young men with the total industrial pattern of the country—and we have many problems to solve. Furthermore, we have to realise, I think, that the educational process—and this was a point very well made by the Swann Committee—cannot any longer end when a man is 21 or thereabouts. It is the great curse of this country's industry that apprentices are expected to serve their time between the ages of 16 and 21, and that what a man has not learnt by the age of 21 he can never learn from the age of 21 onwards. No man can ever become qualified as a skilled man in the technical sense in more than one trade. This I believe to be nationally disastrous, and a very great source of weakness to the whole of British industry as well as to the skilled men who work in it.
But the same argument applies just as strongly to the education of the skilled man, the very skilled man, the professional man, the engineer. It has been said that the growth of knowledge in this country is such that a man's whole discipline has changed dramatically in about ten years; in other words, the total amount of knowledge doubles in that length of time. So, supposing that such a paragon ever existed, a man who had learnt all that there was to know in one discipline when he graduated would be totally out of date ten years later. Information is growing at a quite explosive rate, and the educational world has not really come to terms with this growth in any country in the world. The Germans have attempted to cope with it by increasing the length of university courses almost indefinitely, and when I was last there I saw curves showing the ages of German engineers on graduation and found that an alarming number were still studying at the age of 33. This is one of the primary causes of the academic unrest in Germany, and is due to the fact that the German tradition is that a man may not graduate until he has learnt all that there is to know about his particular discipline. This is manifestly impossible, and the strain is disrupting, and 961 may destroy, some of the university centres of Europe.
Our own system has been to allow men to graduate at an early age, and this has meant the grotesque over-specialisation which has already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and by other speakers. I think it is inevitable that we shall have to reform our educational system completely and expect as a matter of course that men will come back to college, to university, many times during the course of their lifetimes—and, furthermore, do this as a perfectly normal and inevitable part of the ordinary conventional academic process. If I may take a particular example of this, I think that the Department of Education and Science should take as much responsibility for the re-education of science masters halfway through their professional lives as it now takes for the education of these men to the level of their first degree. This we cannot afford to do, and we have never even contemplated it; but I believe the university machine must be adapted to do it.
At the moment, the financial implications of such changes have baffled the combined ingenuities of the University Grants Committee, of the Department of Education and Science and of all the directors and controllers of all the Industrial Training Boards with whom I have spoken. The U.G.C. very properly say that it is not their responsibility to finance courses of three, four, five or six months for middle-aged men. The Industrial Training Boards have never got around to devising a mechanism by which they can pay for it, either. I myself have been negotiating this many a year to try to organise courses of this kind, and I have, I am afraid, almost totally failed. I would urge the Government that we must bring our people up-to-date continuously, we must abandon the folly of assuming that they can learn everything before they graduate, and we must so re-organise the financial structure of our educational machine as to make these courses properly financed. They must be given wherever the need arises, be it in university, be it in industry or be it in the local parish hall if necessary.
One of the most interesting experiences of my life has been to go to Canada and to see the extraordinary ramifications 962 of the system of part-time education which has sprung up there. It is not going too far to say that anybody of any age can qualify himself in any profession whatsoever by part-time study if he wishes to do so. We have never come to grips with this idea in this country. We have, in fact, destroyed more than we have created in the last few years. The work to which the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, referred has been extremely valuable; but it is not even remotely comparable to the needs of the time and it does not by any means match the achievements of the other countries such as Sweden, Russia and America.
We have to face a total change in the structure of our educational machine; we have to face the possibility that men may qualify themselves for their professions by an irregular and unfamiliar route; we have to face the possibility that knowledge is changing so rapidly that people cannot hope to keep up with it except by specialist part-time courses in middle life. We have to transform the nature of our university machine.
In most countries the universities have accepted the responsibility for running such courses. A professor in the University of Moscow may be required to organise part-time courses, correspondence courses, or whatever the need may be. University staff in some parts of Australia have responsibility thrust upon them. It is the same in Canada. There is no such system here. I look forward to the transformation of the educational machine into a much more flexible and variegated enterprise capable of handling not the problems of the last century but the problems of the 21st century which will soon be upon us.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ LORD BALERNO
My Lords, I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Lauderdale on his maiden speech and thank him for drawing attention to the latter half of this Motion. It is indeed well to be reminded of our natural resources and how they must be explored and developed. I am glad that he should have informed us of the Elgood Report; it is a subject which these of us in Scotland who are concerned with these matters hold in high regard. I trust that the noble Earl will forgive me if I do not develop his thesis but confine 963 myself to the problem of human resources.
We are indeed grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for introducing this debate, and I agree with him entirely in what he said about the supply of students from the schools and the fact that we are more deficient in science education than ever before. I am particularly glad that the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, has said what he has said, and in such a forceful way. I had a feeling, as this debate progressed, that we were going to fail to realise how fundamentally important this is for the country. When Lord Bowden said that this Report was one of the more important documents of our time, and when he added that our present system was in danger of collapse, I do not think he was in any way exaggerating. I hope that we shall give—not only we ourselves, but the wider audience beyond this House—full consideration, full realisation, to the weight of these points emphasised by the noble Lord. I am sure that all of us were most impressed by those examples which he gave.
My Lords, the Swann Report itself also underlines and emphasises the importance of this subject to the nation. One could have wished this had been better recognised by some of the speakers, and I hope that I shall be forgiven if I quote, very briefly, two or three passages from the opening pages of the Report. We have been discussing the pages towards the end of the Report; but let us take these words in the introduction discussing the falling proportion of pupils following science in the schools. This is the statement from the introduction on page vii of the Report The Committee say, speaking of the situation:…we consider that it will deteriorate unless the swing away from science in the schools is halted.Then on page 2 of the Report proper, we see the statement:…the figures reveal a positively dangerous situation.And on page 3:…we propose that education take the initiative in dealing with these problems.What is happening? In their recently-published Report the University Central Council on Admissions give the shortfall for the United Kingdom of candidates 964 in science and technology to enter the universities last October as 1,200—that is to say, there were 1,200 vacant places at the universities in science and technology. The places have been, as it were, paid for; the money has been put up. Yet they are not being taken; they are not being filled. Of that total of 1,200 vacant places,450 were in engineering and technology, and 730 in science—roughly 4½ per cent. short. Compare that, my Lords, with the excess of applicants for the social studies. There are many reasons for this shortfall. The reasons one might give for it would depend upon the particular discipline that one studied at the university. But the issue which we are facing here is not an academic one that can be discussed in the common rooms of the universities; it is a vital one to the future of this country. The shortage of mathematics and science graduates lies at the root of the problem of providing adequate scientific and technological manpower.
I cannot agree with my noble friend Lord Aberdare who thought that the encouragement of teachers in science by special preference, as mentioned in the Report, was unwise. I would wholeheartedly support what the Swann Report says in its recommendation on the teachers. The Report refers in paragraph 136 to:incentives for able scientists and technologists to enter teaching…a merit addition to salary…greater…salary increments for appropriate industrial experience…additional responsibilities…for the maintenance and safety of laboratories and expensive equipment…I think that the long-term question of differential pay will have to be faced and that we should not burke it now; because only thus, by preferential salaries, can account be taken of national needs and the requirements of the economy. After all, what is money for but to match the law of supply and demand? If the demand is greater than the supply, then the money must be used to increase the supply. We must recognise that this policy advocated in the Swann Report is against existing educational policy and will certainly be most unpopular with the teaching profession. Nevertheless, as the Report says:We believe that the situation is so serious, and the ultimate welfare of the teaching profession so dependent on a solution to our 965 scientific and industrial problems, that the time has come for fresh thinking by all concerned.What is happening at the present moment? There are almost positive disincentives for men to go in for teaching in science and mathematics. The noble Lord, Lord Bowden, mentioned the in-service training of teachers and the difficulties being encountered in getting arrangements for their payment. The last time we discussed this (I think it was on the Dainton Report) I drew attention to cases where local education authorities in Scotland were refusing to allow teachers off for an in-service year or for any in-service course, or to allow them a grant of money to pay their expenses. Some of those problems were smoothed out; but some were not, and we lost several potentially good teachers of mathematics. They would have got honours degrees in mathematics on top of their other qualifications. For instance, students at the Heriot-Watt University do two years of part-time training followed by one year of full-time education in mathematics. That qualifies them for an honours degree and they are exactly the people needed to break this log-jam. There are still difficulties, I understand, and I think this is a case where the Department of Education and Science ought to impose its will on the local authorities, because it is usually the local authorities that are preventing action being taken.
Then, my Lords, what about the retired teacher of mathematics? If a retired teacher comes back to teaching he loses his pension. He may well be as fit and able as on the day he retired, but it he comes back, in the case of an emergency or to fill up in a situation where no other teacher can be obtained because of the acute shortage of teachers of mathematics, he cannot draw his salary and his pension. It is better financially for such a person to seek work outside the education system.
There are of course other reasons for the shortage of scientists and mathematicians. A much higher standard is required for a first degree in mathematics and science than for the majority of the degrees acquired in social science Another point which is no doubt affecting the supply of young pupils coming up 966 to study mathematics and science at the universities is that some of our science and mathematics teaching is not very well done. This is something which must be looked into. New ways of teaching mathematics are being developed. I know of one school, Glasgow Academy, where the teaching of mathematics is entirely up to date, and an astonishing proportion of its pupils come forward for their scholarships and entrance to universities in mathematics. It can be done, my Lords, and this is the place where the mathematicians, scientists and professors must, as it were, "get cracking".
The noble Lord, Lord Todd, said—and I agree with him—that how the subject is taught is more important than what is taught. I should like also to say how much I agree with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, about a general education based on science. I think that if this were developed, and science took the place of the classics, as in the olden days, one would get a better flow of youth coming up to the universities in scientific subjects. At the, same time I think that we must avoid looking only for the highly intelligent people, from our schools to come into science and into mathematics and technology. There is a danger that we may put too great an emphasis on that.
As the noble Lord, Lord Snow, has recently expounded, the creative mathematician is all-important; but a subsequent letter to The Times from Professor Noble, of Wisconsin University, indicated the importance for the run-of-the-mill student of a reasonably easily obtained first degree. I think that in some universities the first degree in science and mathematics is made too difficult. Professor Noble gave us the American slang term, and talked about the intelligent and the "slobs". I think we must deliberately cater for both types, as the American system is doing, and realise that the "slob" is extremely important and can make as great a contribution as the creative, intelligent person. My Lords, speaking as a "slob" myself, I would say that my excuse is that the whole material prosperity of our country depends upon our finding a proper solution to this problem. Unless we are very careful and get a move on, we shall be too late.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD ENERGLYN
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, for his reference to myself because it enables me to extend further congratulations to him on a most stimulating account of a subject which is very close to my heart. In fact, the brilliant way in which he expressed my thoughts filled me with great envy. I hope that your Lordships' House will be privileged to hear the noble Earl on many other occasions.
I should like briefly, in the same vein as the noble Lord, Lord Todd, to refer to the dangers of some of the sweeping generalisations in this Report. I refer to page 91 whereon there are three primary recommendations. To take the essence of these:Policy for postgraduate studies and awards should be guided by the need to match these more closely to the requirements of employment, especially in industry.Then, secondly:…a change of emphasis towards shorter periods of postgraduate study and the trend from research to advanced course work should be accelerated,And thirdly, the purpose of the Ph.D. should be usedto bring within its scope other forms of postgraduate training more closely orientated to the requirements of industry.Superficially nobody could quarrel with that statement, but a number of really serious and dangerous areas of activity are implied.
If we veer as strongly as this away from fundamental research, where would be the place for young scientists who wish to thrust out and attempt what is regarded as impossible to-day? If advanced training courses are to replace research schools, this, as my noble friend Lord Todd said, could be disastrous for British research. Besides, in attempting to convert postgraduate studies into training courses the universities will of necessity have to meet the ever-changing, transient trends of a particular industry, and this would mean that certain universities might closely attach themselves to neighbouring industries. That is all very well so long as that industry is flourishing, but not so wonderful if it begins to run into heavy weather or requires new techniques.
If we look at this problem from that point of view, I suggest that industry is 968 potentially more competent to deal with such post-graduate training of men in industry than the universities themselves. because the dons will not only have to teach these advanced techniques but at the same time will have desperately, almost hopelessly, to try to find some time for their own researches, while constantly changing their courses to meet the changing needs of the immediate industry.
Coupled with this is the dangerous plea for the evaluation of the degree of doctor of philosophy. This is not, and I hope never will be, a distinctive title which is awarded exclusively for advanced training courses. Studying for a doctorate enables a young man for the very first time in his life, possibly for the only time in his life, to tackle with his supervisor a problem concerning which neither he nor his adviser knows the answer. Moreover, this is probably the only time in his life when he will be able to do a piece of work thrusting out into the unknown, learn what this involves in terms of emotion and disappointment, and, what is much more important, indulge in completely dedicated labour in search of its solution. This can come about only once in a man's life. It is at this point I would look before we allow this trend to get out of hand. Another impact of this trend—and here we can see its dangerous side—is that small departments will practically disintegrate, and only well-endowed universities will be able to continue their research schools and so produce the doctors of philosophy as we understand them to-day.
I would remind your Lordships' House that this Report does not really bring out and give credit to the flourishing courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, chemical engineering and production engineering, all of which illustrate that the universities are not unaware of the need for making a change. I am able to say that at the University of Nottingham we are setting up a new subject—new for this country, for Europe and probably for the world—which is going to be called exploration science and which will meet many of the points mentioned in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale. This science is designed deliberately and is vocationally directed to anticipate the needs of the next decade for the development of resources which at the moment we regard as unworkable. At the present 969 time it has been calculated that something of the order of £35,000 million worth of raw materials are being extracted from the earth's crust every year, and clearly something must be done to make this wasting asset survive as long as we possibly can make it. That is the object of setting up this new science: to meet this problem by training scientists to go out with sophisticated equipment and a wide range of expertise in search of these potentially viable natural resources.
It is the mental freedom to be able to think like this which makes British universities unique in the world. If we accept these recommendations, I feel, as in the tragic story recounted by my noble friend Lord Bowden, that we may yet see many of our institutions decay and become like other universities throughout the world. If we go too far in developing post-graduate work into advanced training schemes, where shall we hope to find the young men who can undertake original work? Where can we find, for example, the young scientist who perhaps may discover how to prevent the mineral apatite from growing at fantastic speed in human coronary arteries? The young scientist who discovers how this killer actually grows will not only have rid us of the terror of coronary thrombosis but at the same time will have discovered a new way of forming calcium phosphate and other similar substances into minerals of great value to the electronics industry.
Where are we going to find the young scientist to study the combinations of iron with alumina and silicia, the combination of minerals which prevents our exploiting the low grade iron ore in the earth's crust? The young scientist who can break this molecule will quadruple the iron ore resources of the world. If he does it in Britain, we shall be able to reduce by something like 70 per cent. the need for importing iron ore into this country. We have already proved that if we could break this molecule, we could exist on our own low-grade ores for the next hundred years. Where can this kind of work he done? I suggest that the natural place is the fundamental research schools of the universities, which have always been the natural organisations for this research. This recommendation of the Swann Report is, I think, one of the most dangerous of all its recom 970 mendations. There are many such examples of the creative ideas of scientists moving potentially and realistically into industry at the present time. The bridge into industry has taken many years of patient work to build, and frankly, reading this Report, I feel that the authors of the Report are not aware of the two-way traffic that is already crossing that bridge.
When history is told, I think we shall find that we are passing through this technological revolution that we hear about and that many are unaware of it. This is not surprising, because if we recall the work of Bessemer, for example, we could never have foretold what a global impact his work would have on the economy of the world. Scientific discoveries often move very silently into a technological explosion. Who would have thought that growing fibres of carbon, and finding that they had enormous strength, was of great industrial significance? Yet we find at this moment of time that these carbon whiskers are going to revolutionise the use of plastics, which may replace metals. Making carbon whiskers, as I understand it, is rather expensive, but there might be some young Ph.D. student somewhere studying the hair that grows on a scorpion, or studying the way in which a bird produces its feathers, and in this way discover a new way of growing fibres cheaper, easier and better than at the present time, and so recreate what is already a viable proposition into an industrial explosion.
I gather from this Report that there is something wrong with British research. But the Report is not very clear as to what this might be, and neither am I. I see fundamentally little that is wrong. The Committee also make general attacks upon industry and the way it treats its scientists. They want them to move about freely.between the main sectors of employment—universities, schools, industry and Government".My Lords, this is a pious hope, because the Report reveals that there is a shortage of manpower, and there is just not enough to go round. Why blame industry for being unable to spread it about in this way?
Finally, I should like to be a little more positive, perhaps, and suggest that, in this Report some consideration might 971 have been given to the possibilities that now exist, and have never existed so well as now, for the young scientist who makes a discovery and is able to move with it into industrial production. This is the ideal way for a man to leave a university school of research and get into industry. As a result of the enlightened and enlarged work of the National Research Development Corporation, we now have this facility, and this is being exploited to a great extent. I would suggest to those of your Lordships who do not read the Reports of the Corporation that they are in themselves an education.
My point, my Lords, is this. Perhaps industry might themselves look at the functions of the N.R.D.C., because they could make as great a use of it as we in the research departments are doing at the present time. In this way, in my opinion, we should remove one of the great barriers that has put a kind of tollgate on this two-way bridge into industry —this matter of security. Industry has its research departments only because it wants to keep ahead of its competitors. Therefore, it has to have some control over the security of its ideas. If, as was urged in your Lordships' House by my noble friend Lord Arwyn on March 12, there was a uniformity of patent law even throughout Europe, the work of the N.R.D.C. could be made much easier, the interchange to universities and industry could be made much easier, and one of the major obstacles, in my opinion, for collaboration between fundamental research schools and industry would be removed.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD JACKSON OF BURNLEY
My Lords, I should like to associate myself in the thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, for introducing so effectively this debate. I should declare a personal interest in the debate, because, as your Lordships may have noticed, I was a member of the Swann Committee: indeed, I am even more vulnerable than that, because as Chairman of the Committee on Manpower Resources I attached myself to the Dainton, the Jones and the Bosworth Working Parties, in the hope that I could help to ensure that these were reasonably well co-ordinated. This is why I was discourteous enough, 972 if I may say so, to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, to interrupt his speech.
§ LORD JACKSON OF BURNLEY
Unfortunately, my mind does not work quickly enough to deal with the various comments that have been made on the Report, and I have not had enough experience of your Lordships' House—in particular, I have not sat on the Front Bench—and, therefore, I am looking forward with great interest to hearing how the noble Lord, Lord Brown, deals with these various comments. The temptation, in consequence, is perhaps not to speak. On the other hand, a number of points have not been touched on as fully as I think they might have been, and, therefore, if your Lordships will allow me I will make a few remarks.
Several of your Lordships have touched on the question as to whether the supply of men and women who have devoted themselves to the advanced study of science, technology and engineering is adequate for our national purposes. I want to say that the quantification of this situation is extremely difficult. A major reason for difficulty is that we do not yet know how to distinguish quantitatively between the forecast demand of employers, particularly of industrial employers, and their need for qualified scientists, technologists and engineers: in other words, the difference between their willingness to employ and their need to employ.
This difficulty can work both ways. Forecast demand can be an understatement of need, in the case, for example, of firm which has been, and is, unresponsive to the process of technological change; has not yet learned how to recruit, train and employ qualified manpower, and whose forecast demand—if it has a demand—is therefore likely to bear no relationship whatever to the need for its progress and even perhaps its survival. Or there may be a corresponding discrepancy with a firm which has over the years regularly employed large numbers of qualified manpower, but which, because of uncertainty, financial or otherwise, may feel unable to initiate new developments which would increase its need, and therefore its demand for qualified manpower. On the other hand, the discrepancy may 973 occur in the reverse direction. For example, I hold the view that many of our existing scientists, technologists and engineers are not being used effectively, and for the reason that they are not being supported adequately by a sufficient number of well-enough qualified technical supporting manpower, whether as technician engineers at the Higher National Certificate level or technicians at the City and Guilds London Institute level.
Whether or not there is a shortage at the level of qualified manpower, I believe there is an unquestionable shortage, and a very serious shortage, at the level of technical supporting manpower. So long as we fail to deal with this situation, as I believe we are doing, and as certainly two noble Lords have mentioned this afternoon, so long shall we continue to use some of our highly qualified manpower for work for which they are not well prepared educationally, against which they react psychologically and which they will try to avoid at the expense to this country, if need be, of their joining the brain-drain.
My Lords, I have presumed on several occasions during the last few years to say that it is high time the Robbins spotlight was shifted from degrees and the universities to courses which lead to diplomas and certificates, rather than to degrees; to courses which serve the educational needs of young people who do not possess the kind of analytical abilities which properly are required for university entry yet who are perfectly capable of understanding and assimilating the highly sophisticated technical skills that are of great importance to industry. I am therefore deeply concerned (I think that the noble Lords, Lord Mais and Lord Bowden, touched on this same question) by the apparent, if not evident, desire of the recently created polytechnics to walk away from this problem; their desire to discard part-time courses leading to Higher National Certificates and other qualifications, and the effect which this is likely to have on the sense of importance and of status attaching to these courses, and the awards associated with them, and the deflating effect this is likely to have on the staff and the colleges which are then left to deal with this problem. My impression is that there is within the technical colleges a feeling of real con 974 cern and of anxiety, if not depression, at the way in which the situation is being deflated.
I am not a wholehearted supporter of comprehensiveness in education. But I am in no doubt of my support for what the Secretary of State for Education and Science said a few weeks ago, to the effect that:the polytechnic principle will stand or fall on the success they achieve in maintaining the student mix (as between degree and non-degree students) which the comprehensive principle applied at this stage of education implies.I would go further than he does, and would add, "which the staffing requirements of industry demand". If we pretend that by increasing the number of our graduate engineers we are really solving more than a part of our industrial problem we are grossly misleading ourselves.
The point I am trying to make is that if and when we deal effectively with the technician problem—and the industrial training boards are of course devoting a good deal of attention to this question—and when we have exploited more fully the potentialities of the computer and automation, it may be we shall find that industry requires fewer scientists and technologists at graduate level if an it at present thinks it does. I do not think it will, but I say that this may be: we just do not know. Studies of our manpower situation carried out merely by analysing, as I am afraid we have done, mainly the requirements at graduate level without making a simultaneous assessment of need and demand at supporting level, could give us quite wrong answers to the requirements at graduate level.
It is essential however (and here I shall be touching on what some others of your Lordships have said), not to concentrate too much on this purely vocational requirement and situation. Those of your Lordships who heard me speak last week will perhaps remember that I referred to the impact of scientific and technological progress on society and the problems it was raising for society. I think there is equally no doubt that we are in great need of many more young reople who have pursued science and technology —but not wholly science and technology: I should like it to be mixed with sociology and economics—up to degree level, and 975 who would then enter life with the same open-mindedness as has characterised the arts graduates, in the knowelge that they would be better prepared for responsible service within a community, the progress of which is increasingly dependent on our ability to assimilate the potentialities of scientific and technological progress. This touches on something which the noble Lord, Lord Todd, said. I should like to think of this as a responsibility for some of our new universities.
These graduates would not of course be adequately prepared to perform the scientific and technical functions in industry which are involved in research, development, design, production, marketing and the maintenance of equipment. But, equally, the graduates who follow courses in science and technology much more closely akin to present courses in these subjects would, for the reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, has given, also be inadequately prepared, though perhaps to a less degree. It will then rest with employers, particularly industrial employers, to attract from this larger, as I would hope, body of science and technology-based graduates a sufficiency to meet their essentially scientific and technological requirements. As for the rest, I would hope that these would go out into the community, as I have mentioned, with the same open-mindedness on employment as has characterised the arts graduate.
As for the scientific and technological requirements of industry, it would then be the responsibility of industry, having recruited a sufficiency from this large body of graduates, to see that they were properly recruited, and that they received initial training of the quality to which the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, referred. I was depressed, if I may say so, by the severity of the situation which he depicted. I myself am deeply disturbed by this, although I was not aware of the situation quantitatively. I fear greatly that much of British industry is not dealing as effectively as it should with its graduate recruits, and I am quite sure that a lot of British industry has not yet learned how to employ these people to the full extent of their potentialities.
976 My Lords, may I now touch on a question which really arises from this?—and it has been touched on already by several previous speakers. I was particularly interested in the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, about the question of the maintenance of standards. I do not know quite how to interpret this. If one is thinking of the educational process, not merely of scientists and technologists but of our graduates generally as confined within a three-year undergraduate course, I think we must recognise that the attainment of a degree, a diploma or a certificate in the early twenties, or even sooner, is no longer the end of the process of formal education. It is merely the end of a preliminary phase of a process which will have to continue throughout a career.
Industry and our educational institutions, whether they be universities, polytechnics or technical colleges, must face up to a responsibility which, as the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, said, has hardly yet been touched. This is one of the reasons why I believe that the Swann Report is right, even to the extent perhaps of over-emphasising the need for a closer partnership between the universities and industry, not at the cost of submerging the needs of pure research but certainly at the cost of identifying with pure research many men who are not going to make an important contribution to it and who will then become antipathetic to the kind of environment in industry or in teaching where their services are desperately required.
Finally, my Lords, may I touch on an aspect that has not received much information but which flows a little from what I have just said? Some anxiety has been expressed this afternoon as to whether this country is spending enough on research and development. I myself would hope that we can continue to spend at least as much as we are now doing, but I think it came out of last week's debate that what we refer to as the "technological gap" between this country and Europe and the United States is not even primarily concerned with research and development; that in fact when we refer to the technological gap (which is a catchphrase that tends to be misunderstood) we must not relate 977 this just to research and development but must relate it to the whole process that flows from development, through design, production, marketing, and so on, to all the functions with which productive industry is concerned.
If our gross national product, if the strength of our economy, could be related precisely to our expenditure on research and development, this country would have no present anxieties. In fact it is not so relatable; and I suggest that while expenditure on research and development is vital to the maintenance of good health in the universities, and essential to progressive industry—firms such as Rolls-Royce—nevertheless this is only part of what is required, and we shall not achieve through further research and development the strengthening of our economy unless several other things happen.
One is that we must recognise, and must somehow get young people to recognise, that the quality of intellect required in design, production and marketing needs to be of the same level as, though it is different in motivation from, that required in research and development. Secondly, we have to devise means of achieving a much greater mobility of people between these spheres. This is why I am deeply concerned about the extent to which we in this country separate a great deal of our research and development, physically and therefore to some extent intellectually, from the productive environment. I would not mind this if we had achieved reasonable mobility, but we have not: and I think we are paying a very great price for it.
I would extend this need for mobility to the universities. I would accept, as was implied in previous speeches, that there is an encouraging movement in this direction. I think we have a great deal further to go, and I am not more than partially encouraged by the speed at which we are moving.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting him for a moment on this interesting point of the separation of research? I entirely see his point with regard to development, but I would have thought the Americans had shown, in, 978 for instance, the Bell Telephone Laboratories, and other places, that there was a great advantage in having the basic research separated.
§ LORD JACKSON OF BURNLEY
My Lords, I do not disagree with that. Nevertheless, I would think it on the whole beneficial if we are not thinking of research as embracing only pure research. But when we move over to research in the departments of technology I would have said there was everything to be gained by as close as possible an association between them. I accept that this cannot be a physical association, but it can be achieved by a greater degree of mobility than we have yet achieved, though it has been achieved in some other countries—including the United States of America. And if one refers, as the noble Lord has done, to the Bell Telephone Laboratories there is an intimate personal association between the people in the research laboratories of Bell Telephones and the people on the design and production side. So that, while I do not deny the point, on the whole I would still prefer to swing the pendulum a little in the reverse direction, if only by way of emphasis.
My final point, my Lords, is that we shall not achieve an adequate result from our research and development expenditure unless we have, in addition to what I have mentioned, more enlightened, more informed and more sympathetic management. I am one of those who hold the opinion that taking British industry as a whole—and of course there are many notable exceptions—the standard of management is much less professional and much less understanding and sympathetic towards the kind of motivation that comes from research and development than is the case in some other countries. Therefore, when I refer to the need for in-career education I hope that an increasing number of those who show managerial potentialities will be allowed to participate through courses within universities and in business schools. I am quite convinced that a certificate or diploma in management studies does not make a manager, but I am equally sure that many of those who reveal those qualities would be the better managers for having one. This I regard, as I know the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, does, as a very important part of our in-career education.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I should like to follow those who have spoken before me in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, on his maiden speech, and I shall listen with great interest and attention in the future to what he has to say, particularly on the subject which he has expounded so well to-day. I would also thank my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones for giving us the opportunity for this debate, and also, if I may in his absence, the Principal of my university, the Chairman of the Swann Committee, for having given us the pretext for, and indeed the substance of, a very interesting debate. I am much reinforced in what I am going to say by what the noble Lord, Lord Jackson of Burnley, has just said. I was rather timid—I always am in the presence of so many formidable people in the scientific world—about what I was going to say, but this is it.
In the early days of war-time operational research, when scientists were trying to find out why radar was so very effective in laboratories and on the test bench but was not working on the antiaircraft sites, they sent out distinguished scientists to find out what was wrong, and they discovered some interesting human factors. For instance, there was in Hyde Park, and indeed on anti-aircraft sites generally, an extra man on each battery strength, and nobody could explain what he was there for. Research showed that he was the man who had held the head of the horse in the days of the old Horse Artillery, and they had just forgotten about him. Before we get too agitated, too desperate and too anxious about the shortage of scientists, we should find out how many scientists are holding the heads of imaginary horses. I think we should find that there are quite a number of imaginary horses in academic science, in industry, and in the scientific Civil Service. I would follow the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, on this point: I think we should find somebody to hold the head of the horse for the scientist.
I do not pretend to be a one-man manpower committee, but a few years ago I did a fairly thorough inquiry, which was published, not in the distinguished company of the Report we are discussing today but in one of those vulgar popular 980 journals, into how science was being used in industry. We had been pretty successful in impressing industrialists that to keep up with the Joneses they had to hire science graduates. This was about ten to twelve years ago and it is rather ironical, in the light of the Swann Report we are discussing, that at that time the concern was that industry with its higher salary scales and so on was robbing the hen roost of the academic world and the Government scientific service.
We had had the Scientific Manpower Survey of 1956 which predicted the likely demands. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, has pointed out how difficult it is to quantify, because looking at that Report one tends to be rather reproachful. The Survey stressed the need for chemists and physicists and engineers, and it played down the demand for biologists; there was practically no future for them. As I went round the various industries I found that most of them, encouraged by exhortation from the top and from distinguished scientific bodies, had in fact hired their quota of tame magicians, highly qualified science graduates, preferably Ph.D., because it looked much more impressive in the annual report.
A certain disillusionment had begun to set in on both sides. I asked the head of a science-based enterprise, a very substantial one, how many scientists he had on his board. He replied, "Two, and that is two too many". His complaint was that they were empire-builders, always increasing the scientific staffs in research and development, and the lay directors were quite helpless because they did not know what they were talking about and did not know whether or not these people were necessary. But his main complaint was that they did not know when to freeze. When the production engineer was trying to get Mark I on the production line the scientists were already thinking of Mark III because they had been reading the stop-press improvements that had turned up in the latest scientific literature. The board did not know whether their competitors were liable to produce Mark II. This board chairman complained that their scientific education, by its specialised limitations, had crippled their common-sense judgment—and this is where I 981 would follow the noble Lord, Lord Byers, in saying that one of the important things is to distinguish between science and sense. That is unfair to the scientists, including the very distinguished Members of your Lordships' House who have been conspicuously successful businessmen. But I think in general he had a point.
In the laboratories I found disgruntled scientists who, having taken their first-class degrees into industry, complained that in programme research they were no more than glorified laboratory technicians. In fact they were, as the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, pointed out, actually doing glorified technicians work with practically no backing of adequately trained people. The industrialists also complained that in the manning table the exact scientists tended to be intractable. They were research men who could not be moved around other departments or even promoted through the managerial stream. What they had found, in spite of the prediction of the unlikely demand for biologists, was that biology graduates were much more amenable. When they had made their effective laboratory contributions they could adapt themselves to other jobs even in the commercial or marketing departments. Perhaps this is because biologists are accustomed to dealing with a greater range of variables.
Perhaps this mobility, this versatility, may be regarded as a waste of a Ph.D. or a highly qualified scientist. I do not think so. I think this has come out of our debate to-day. I think that science should permeate the thinking of industry and commerce, and even of public life and politicians and everybody else, so that there is not the conflict between the scientist and the lay members of an industrial board. Anyway, it is better to be adaptable than to be a Ph.D. holding the head of an imaginary horse in an industrial laboratory.
That brings me to the point of which I thoroughly approve in the Swann Report. I know that my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones has a certain qualified attitude to this. I believe in the broadening of the educational base of the scientist. I am quite sure that we shall get more and better scientists and technologists by putting imagination into their general education and giving them this versatility that we have misgivings about. To me, science is no more than natural 982 curiosity which begins from the moment a child asks "Why?" If by over-specialisation at an immature age we regiment and direct that curiosity into a predestined curriculum, we can lose those lively minds that later might burgeon as original scientists, the kind of scientists the noble Lord, Lord Energlyn, was talking about, the flint and tinder of new ideas.
I compare this process which is still going on in our school life—and here I am talking about the Dainton Report rather than the Swann Report—to the little evacuees during the war. I had quite a lot to do with them in London during the "blitz". It was quite pathetic when one went to the East. End of London and found little children with labels on them. They could not read them because they were upside down. The labels said where they were going, but the children did not know where. They were taken to Paddington and put on a train and they did not get off the train until they reached their reception area. That is what we have been doing to the youngsters in terms of science. At a very immature age, at 12 or 15, we say to them: "You have got all the qualities of science and you are going to be a good scientist". And so we put a little label on them and put them on the railway. They never get off to look around and pick the buttercups, and eventually they get off in some siding called cyto-genetics and they have never had a glimpse of what the meaning of things might be.
A few months ago I was asked by an educational society to talk on the subject, "Teaching science in the year 2000". I said that I hoped that in the year 2000 we would not be teaching science as we are now teaching it, because in an imaginative educational system science would be subsumed. It would be the nature of everybody's education and not some select few. It would be in the blood corpuscles of every pupil and in the thinking of every student. My noble friend Lord Snow would have lost his two cultures.
Of course we need more mathematics, more mathematics teachers, more mathematical thinking. But it must not be the brimstone and treacle maths, the way I learned it, where I was given maths because "Learn it, damn you, it good for you", which, incidentally, has 983 crippled my mathematics ever since. Nor is "new maths" or new devices for teaching numeracy sufficient. I think we must realise that mathematics is a language which opens up, which it did not do to me, a wide vista, a new world of experience. I have discovered in the case of my own family that pure maths is the poetry of numeracy, the conceptual language. We need them not only as a tool but as the poetry of mathematics.
As the Swann Report itself says, it has to be read in conjunction with the Dainton Report and the Jones Report, and in relation to it we have to take into account the science fallout in schools and the brain-drain. In the past twenty years —I say this as one of the salesmen of science—we have oversold science, certainly science in the terms of its pay packet. We tried to sell it, and I think we at one stage succeeded by saying, "You take a degree and there is a cheque. Take it to the billet and draw the cash. You get married the morning after you graduate, and you have a motor car as well".
The figures produced by my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones show the fall away from science and the increase in the number of those going into the humanities and social sciences. I believe that this also is part of the student protest. It is partly a revolt against science itself. I know I am being mystical in relation to what science is, but I really feel that this is so. Indeed, in the British Association a few years ago—I think Lord Bowden was there; I am not sure that he was not the chairman of the meeting—we asked modern secondary schoolchildren why they were not going into science. One of them, a child of 15, said, "Physics is bombs; chemistry is insecticides".
I think we have to find a new motivation other than that of the salesman, because, as has been pointed out, we have 1,200 vacant places, 4½ per cent. short of what is necessary. In this field. I think we have to convince the girls that science is a good thing. It is not just a question of getting girls to go into science, something that we wish they would do. Curiously enough, we get a lot of girls going into biology, et cetera, but fewer going into physics and chemistry. It is not only that I want to get the 984 girls interested; I want also to persuade them not to discourage their boy-friends from going into science. This factor of female discouragement has been around for quite a while. It was borne in upon me by my son, when he was at Cambridge. He said, "There's no future in nuclear physics because you can't date a girl by saying you are at the Cavendish Laboratory".
Apropos the brain drain, we are deeply concerned with the loss to America of the graduates we produce in engineering and so on. But I have just come back from America and I would say again what I have said before, that instead of going out and persuading the renegades, the people who have gone out and are afraid to come back because they have lost face —if you go out to make your fortune you do not come back to the job you have left—we should be going out now and recruiting American scientists. Because part of the process which has been pointed out this afternoon, of the cutback in American science, is that they have committed themselves far too much to the needs of a dictated economy programme, to crash programmes, et cetera, and they are now finding that their pure science and their real, genuine interests are being curtailed. I think we could reap a rich harvest by going out and claiming their scientists in return for those which have been taken from us.
My last point is this. We have been discussing how we can do all this. I was fascinated by what Lord Kings Norton and others have said about how the Report itself overlooks the kind of things that we should now be seeking. I am going to offer one more. It is one that I am not sure has been mentioned in your Lordships' House before. But there is a really imaginative approach to this problem; namely, the Open University—the university of the second chance, as I want to call it—bringing back the part-time people, the people, many of them scientists or potential scientists, who missed their opportunity, and really starting on broadening the educational approach, the topping up, the picking up, and the reinforcement.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ LORD TEDDER
My Lords, coming in at No. 15 I feel as I felt at school when coming in at No. 9: my colleagues' great 985 anxiety was that I should get out as quickly as possible, and my anxiety was to show how good I was. This is only the second occasion since succeeding my father than I have got up to speak in your Lordships' House. I had hoped that when the proposals for the reform of this House were being discussed provision would be made for stronger representation of scientists here, although in view of the speeches and the quality of the scientists present this evening your Lordships may feel that there are too many. I am sorry that I cannot accept that view. I feel that some of the troubles that we are discussing stem from the lack of scientists in all branches of government. Until the reform that I hope will come, I still feel it my duty to come as a practising scientist and speak in your Lordships' House. The views I express are necessarily my own, but on this occasion I have been fortunate in having had opportunities of discussion with a large number of my colleagues in various universities, and I have found great unanimity between my opinion and theirs.
The first point I wish to make concerns the data on which, of necessity, Professor Swann and his colleagues had to be dependent. The data refers to a period of quite unprecedented university expansion. At the time of the Robbins Report many people were convinced that there would not be enough highly qualified people to provide the necessary teaching staff for the university expansion envisaged in that Report. In practice, by and large, universities have expanded at the projected rate with but little lowering of the standard of the staff recruited. You cannot have it both ways. Quite rightly in my view, university expansion must come first, and we are now entering a decade when industry can expect to benefit from this expansion.
How completely the situation has changed just during the last year I can show your Lordships, by some figures relating specifically to chemistry. In the years from 1964 to 1967 between 400 and 500 students graduated with a degree of Ph.D. in chemistry, and every year approximately 20 per cent. of those went straight into industry. Last year this figure rocketed to 36 per cent.; in other words, almost double in the period of just one year. And that coincides with the slow- 986 ing down of university expansion. So my first point is that the tide has turned and is, in fact, already flowing strongly the other way. The Science Research Council has in addition applied, as they say, a touch of the rudder by the introduction of the Co-operative Awards for Pure Science. I think we have to be most careful about altering the course when the tide has turned, and I am apprehensive that further touches of the rudder will throw us even further off course and in the opposite direction.
I now wish to turn and become egocentric, in so far as I wish to talk about chemistry and the relationships between university chemistry departments and the chemical industry. The Swann Report, Chapter VII, paragraph 113. reports that the Ph.D. training is widely held in industry to be irrelevant to industry, and at worst turns graduates permanently away from industry. It goes on, however, to say:Some parts of industry—notally the chemical industry—do not share this view.Professor Kelsall's survey quoted in the Swann Report, shows that during the last ten years, out of science graduates with higher degrees—that is, a Ph.D. or an M.Sc.—only 25 per cent. were working in industry. However, when we come to look at the breakdown of these figures we find that for chemistry the percentage was 42 per cent., for physics 23 per cent., for mathematics 7 per cent., and for biology 4 per cent.
The Royal Institute of Chemistry has collected figures from the heads of university chemistry departments, and these show that out of 4,022 chemists graduating with a degree of Ph.D. between the years 1958 and 1967, 15½6 per cent. are now teaching in universities, whereas 29 per cent. are at present working in British industry. There are, in addition, 7 per cent. working in industry abroad, and 6½5 per cent. in the Civil Service and in research institutions. The important feature in these figures is that even during this period of unprecedented university expansion twice as many Ph.D.s in chemistry have gone into industry than have gone into university teaching. So the complaint that we are "eating our own brood", or whatever the phrase is, is not proven so far as chemistry is concerned.
987 The Swann Report refers to all branches of science, but repeatedly emphasises that the situation is different for different disciplines. The point I wish to make is that the situation in chemistry has never been as serious as it has been in some other sciences. I trust that neither the Ministry nor the Science Research Council will be prodded by the Swann Report into applying some blunt instrument to alter the flow of scientists into industry, but that they will make sure that any changes they propose are selective.
I should now like to turn to one particular recommendation of the Report which I view with concern, and I am afraid that I cannot agree with some of the views expressed by your Lordships this afternoon. I wish to refer to paragraph 133, sub-paragraph (a), which ends:…the move from research to selected advanced course work should be accelerated.On the first occasion I spoke in your Lordships' House I drew attention to the tremendous strain put on an undergraduate reading science at the present time. I would, if I may, repeat the analogy I made at that time. I compared a student reading a modern language with a student reading a natural science. I likened the knowledge of a science student who gained three very good "A" levels in his G.C.E. examination to the knowledge of a language student who had just learned the alphabet. At the end of a three-year university course in England, or a four-year course in Scotland, the science graduate will have reached about the same stage in his knowledge of science as the language student would have reached in his G.C.E. at Ordinary level. In other words, a natural science student graduating with an Honours degree is barely literate in his subject, certainly if his subject is chemistry. Literacy may be reached at an earlier stage in the student's career in some other branches of science.
However this may be, a modern science student cannot hope to attain more than the borders of literacy in his subject in a university course. It is only when he stays on to do research that he gains an opportunity to look at his subject critically and acquires the knowledge and experience necessary to make reasoned judgments. All unnecessary detail has long 988 since been thrust out of our courses, and yet our students still have to work at top pressure all the time at the receiving end, never having an opportunity to develop for themselves until they commence postgraduate research. To suggest that three or four years of high pressure course work of this kind should now be surmounted with yet a further year of advanced course work absolutely appals me. I cannot imagine a more certain way of squeezing all the drive and initiative out of our young men and women.
At the present time an able student who stays on to do a Ph.D. learns a little about the techniques of research and acquires specialist knowledge in some particular branch of his subject. The important point is that he is taught to think for himself. Few people would disagree that the best education is guided self-education, and the best thing about Ph.D. research is that it encourages a student to use his own initiative and make his own judgments. I regret to say that I have had to come to the conclusion that the criticism of some industrialists of Ph.D.s is based on the fact that they do not like young men to have initiative and use their own judgment.
Unfortunately, British industry regards a man with a Ph.D. in chemistry as suitable only for employment as a research chemist, and this is tantamount to assuming that an historian or classicist is fit only for employment as an historian or as a teacher. I would suggest that a research degree is a general education ideally suited to present-day needs. I can see some noble Lords are looking horrified. May I add that I do not mean necessarily a Ph.D. degree. I think that there is a very good case for a majority of students doing only one year rather than three years, and only the best staying on to do three years. My third point is a criticism of one specific suggestion made in the Swann Report, and that is the suggestion which refers to the extension of advanced course work. I cannot say how much I oppose and am horrified by this suggestion.
I hope your Lordships will forgive me for having been rather technical and for having quoted so many figures, numbers of students and percentages. I now wish to turn to a much more general discussion of the Swann Report, and I 989 would begin by quoting from paragraphs 7 and 8:Only through joint action by education and employers, especially in industry, can progress be made in solving present manpower problems.Nevertheless we propose that education take the initiative in dealing with these problems.I cannot help but note that the Committee had eight members, and six of these were from university. I am seriously concerned that universities are over sensitive to comments and criticism from outside and tend to react prematurely. They tend to bend before the wind blows, and I hope the noble Lord, Professor Lord Jackson of Burnley, will forgive me if I say that I believe he and his colleagues have done neither the universities nor the country good service by proposing that almost all the changes to correct an admittedly undesirable situation should come from action in the universities.
I should like to refer to the Jones Report on the Brain Drain, on which Committee, of course, the noble Lord, Professor Lord Jackson, also served. Paragraph 49 of that Report reads:There is a feeling that North America is a young man's country in which ability of young people counts more than age, experience and seniority; thus when ambitious young men come forward with suggestions whether for research development, production or marketing, they are given more encouragements, support and responsibility than in the United Kingdom.Then, taking it two lines further down:…the policy thought to exist in the United Kingdom of insisting that a young man should prove himself for a substantial period before any real responsibility is given to him.These are not feelings and thoughts; these are cold, hard facts.
I would draw your Lordships' attention to Table 14, page 89, of the Swann Report, in which the characteristics of their own jobs as seen by scientists and technologists are tabulated. It is very noticeable that scientists and technologists in industry see far less scope for initiative than do their counterparts in university. Surely it is an extraordinary thing that a university teacher should have more scope for initiative than a technologist in industry. I recently had the opportunity of talking to someone in the electronics industry who had, for a number of years, worked in British industry but had fairly 990 recently transferred to an American firm working in this country. He was quite astounded by the difference in attitude in his American company and the responsibility and opportunities for exercise of initiative given to young men who had only recently joined the firm, a matter of six months to a year, compared to what he was used to in the British firm for which he had worked many years. He had nothing but praise for the effect both on the productivity of the firm and the morale of its employees.
I cannot over-emphasise the difference in atmosphere of industrial laboratories that I have visited in the United States and in the United Kingdom. But no matter what we may do in the universities to try to encourage our students to go into industry, there will remain one all-powerful source of propaganda persuading them from taking this course. This propaganda comes from the disillusioned and frustrated students who have started an industrial career—and I am not talking about those who have got to Ph.D; I am talking about those who have gone straight from university into industry without doing a higher degree.
Finally, let me add that I have never noticed any signs of our students being reluctant to get "their hands dirty", as has been suggested by some industrialists to me. On the contrary, if they cm see good reason for it, I am sure they will be the first people to be in it up to their armpits. I beg those of your Lordships who are associated with industry which employs scientists and technologists to do all you can to encourage the management of the firms with which you are associated to give young men and women responsibility and opportunity to prove themselves. I hope that I have made my fourth point abundantly clear. It is my opinion that improved recruitment of scientists and technologists into industry can only come about when there is a change in the attitude in most managements towards the junior scientists and technologists which they employ. Thus, I cannot accept the suggestion in the Swann Report that the majority of the reforms must be on the university side.
I am afraid that I may have given your Lordships the impression that I am self-satisfied and complacent about the university side. Nothing could be further from the truth. It may also 991 appear that all I have said is critical of the Swann Report. Again this is not true, and there are many of their suggestions and recommendations which I welcome most warmly. I would particularly welcome more extensive contacts with industry with an opportunity to learn something of their problems. I feel that it is significant that during the twenty years that I have been a scientist in British industry, I have had more contacts and approaches from American industry than I have ever had from British industry.
I would particularly welcome the recommendation in paragraph 175 of the Swann Report which suggests that universities should come to regard as part of their normal provision post-experience courses for mature scientists, engineers and technologists. I was particularly interested in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, on this point. This kind of provision could be of tremendous benefit to us all; we could learn from them and they could learn from us. I also view with interest the recommendations in paragraphs 156, 162 and 165, all of which lean towards the idea of a broader scientific degree. Certainly in universities we have spent a great deal of time discussing ideas along these lines, and I would greatly welcome the opportunity of holding joint discussions with industry.
I wonder whether at the same time there is not possibly also the need for some new specialist degree. Here I may be talking out of turn, but I feel that a good deal of the criticism of universities in the Swann Report is aimed at physics and engineering rather than at chemistry. I wonder whether the hiving off of electronics and mathematical physics as separate subjects might not be to everybody's advantage. Perhaps in chemistry we might hive off something called material science. May I suggest that the electronics industry should think of founding a chair of electronic physics at the University of St. Andrews, and that the jute and plastics industry should think of founding a chair of material science at the university of Dundee? Seriously, my Lords, let industry and the universities stop slinging mud at each other. I have thrown some this 992 evening, but it is little compared with what we have had thrown at us.
I should like to make some specific suggestions about the reorganisation of university research. At present the major portion of university research is carried on by graduate research students working for the degree of Ph.D. Some of these students, as has been said in this debate, regard themselves as being no more than pairs of hands. One of the difficulties of the present system is that young university staff in science depend on their proven ability in research for advancement in their career. I am not critical of this procedure since I am sure that it is the only way to obtain the best teachers. However, it may mean that the post-graduate student is not always employed in the best project from an educational point of view.
I should like to suggest that in experimental science departments in universities additional establishment should be created so that each full-time member of the teaching staff with more than five years' seniority has a graduate assistant to carry out the experimental work which is at present carried out by the Ph.D. student. The advantages would be that it would enable the university lecturer to plan his research on a long-term basis without having to be sure that the project which he was suggesting would yield definite results within three years, while at the same time the research students could be provided with projects of definite educational value. Such a scheme would need considerable working out to ensure that the new technical assistance would be provided with a suitable career structure.
If university staff could be guaranteed help of this kind there would be less pressure on their part to retain students for research; although I have emphasised that in my view a period of research at university on completion of the normal degree course is most beneficial. I visualise fewer students doing three years' research, although I hope that as many as at present would stay on for one year's post-graduate research. Therefore, my final point is that a substantial increase in technical help in the science departments in universities should be envisaged. Some people may be horrified at this suggestion because they think that this is a request for more money. 993 I do not think it is, because most of the cost could probably be met by the decline in the number of research students, or at least in the length of time at which these research students stay at university.
I apologise for having spoken for so long at the end of this debate, but the issues raised by the Swann Report are complex and in a sense I am necessarily concerned with many aspects of them. I have made five points when, for my speech to have had a telling effect, I should have made only one. May I quickly summarise the points that I have made?
First, the data on which the Report is based refer to a period of exceptional university expansion which has now ceased, so that without any positive action the flow of top quality scientists into industry has already started to increase. Secondly, I wish to emphasise a point repeatedly made in the Report but ignored in some of the commentaries upon it—namely, that the flow of able scientists from universities to industry varies from subject to subject and, being egocentric, I wanted to point out that throughout the last ten years the chemical industry has had the lion's share. My third and final specific point referred to the recommendation that there should be specialist courses on top of the present degree courses. I cannot over-emphasise how bad educationally I believe this to be.
I then turned to make two general points. The first was that the universities were over-sensitive, and bend before the wind blows, and that in my view they must now stand up firmly or the priceless asset of the high standard of academic scientific teaching in this country will be destroyed. However, I should like universities, the University Grants Committee and the Science Research Council to consider the possibility of shorter periods of research for students not intending an academic orresearch-orientated career, coupled at the same time with a substantial increase in technical assistance in universities.
Let us have more contacts between industry and universities, but until we get a changing attitude throughout this country, we shall never get out of our present troubles. The real crux of our 994 problems was more fully aired in the Jones Report, The Brain-drain, than on the Swann Report. Rigid and hierarchical staff structures in industry, in the Civil Service, and sometimes in universities, must be dissolved. The drive, initiative and originality of youth must be given scope. Age, seniority and experience must be used to guide the enthusiasm of youth, not to suppress it. We shall not get better scientists in industry by ruining the universities, but only by making a career in industry more challenging.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ LORD HILL OF WIVENHOE
My Lords, it is with temerity that I intervene in a debate on such a highly technical subject, but I was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the T.U.C. for some seventeen or eighteen years. We were advised by three professors who gave us assistance on the highly technical aspects of the subject. It gave our research committee a lot of joy to think that there were so many vacancies in this field. We could not understand why this country was so short of the electrical engineers and scientists required. It was on that basis that we fought this issue; and we met Minister after Minister about the sad shortage. When the allocation was increased the craftsmen's side of the trade union movement thought that some of our brilliant apprentices ought to be picked up from the shops and found places in universities, but of course there was not much of that done. I am surprised that places in universities for electrical engineers and scientists are not filled, and I think we should search for the brilliant lads who are in engineering and other industries. When a lad comes into industry he likes it immensely, and will go to evening classes to improve his knowledge. Why cannot we find places in universities for those boys?
Many years ago I knew employees who never thought of sending their sons straight from school to university: they insisted upon their serving an apprenticeship. It was after that that they went to university, not neglecting their education in the meantime. But that altitude seems to have been lost. If these brilliant boys could go to university they would not be robbing anybody else, because the vacancies are there, and we 995 ought to recruit from two sources—straight from school or from the workshop. I am surprised that there is this number of vacant places, because I thought it would take many more years to reach that position.
I should now like to say a few words about the other side of this subject; that is, the allocation of funds for research and the like. I was a member of the British Welding Research Association for some fifteen years. That Association had a most difficult time because, although a research association covering a given industry can put a levy on every employer, an association covering many industries cannot do that. The Welding Research Association received modest amounts of money, ranging from £50 to £250, but we could never get sufficient by way of grant from the various firms in the industry. The full grant from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research would still have been only about £300,000 or £400,000, which was totally inadequate to meet our requirements.
The Welding Research Station is just outside Cambridge. It took about ten years to build it up, but had the necessary money been available we could have built it up in three years, and we should all have benefited as a consequence. It may surprise your Lordships to know that it was the Welding Research Association which discovered why jet planes blew themselves to pieces in the air, and discovered how deficiency could arise in the metal. A lot of people would not have believed that, but the Research Station has pulsating machines that are used for that type of work.
I used to go to the National Production Advisory Council for the industry, of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was Chairman, to appeal for the Welding Research Association. On three or four occasions we had our full grant, but we ought to have had more. As no one wants to impose a levy on himself for an association that is covering a variety of industries, one must take what comes. Then for a few years I was a member of the British Ship Research Association, which confines itself to shipping and shipbuilding. It is quite obvious that levies can be imposed for that Association, because it covers only one industry. But if that 996 industry is down in the dumps, as it has been from time to time, and is not able to pay its way, let alone undertake any research, the Association is bound to find itself in a very difficult situation unless someone is generous and fills the kitty when necessary.
It is very hard work to persuade Governments—and I do not blame any particular Government—to hand out money for research. Sometimes they throw it out like a Scotsman with no arms. On one occasion we had Lord Hailsham (as he then was) before a committee talking about getting more money for cancer research. He convinced our committee that, even if they had all the money in the world, they would not achieve much more for cancer research than is being achieved now. He may have been quite right. But it is amazing how Ministers of State find all the excuses under the sun to avoid handing money to very worthy causes. My Lords, the allocation of funds for scientific purposes is absolutely essential. We have very intricate industries in this country to-day—the situation is very different from what it was years ago—and unless we can find the necessary money to finance research we shall eventually go down the drain. I sincerely hope that what has been said in this debate will reach the ears of Ministers, and that they will recognise that sufficient money should be allocated for research purposes to put this country on its feet, not only for to-day but for ever after.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ LORD ANNAN
My Lords, at this late hour I have jettisoned as much of my speech as I can, but I cannot jettison my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, on his maiden speech, and my thanks to my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones for initiating the debate. I must also express the gratitude of the whole House to Professor Swann for his Report, and our pleasure at seeing him listening to this debate this afternoon.
There are just two points that I want to make tonight. The first is that there are a great many changes which ought to come about in university departments. The second is that it is not at all clear how, under the present conditions of university autonomy, these changes are to be brought about. Some of these changes are undoubtedly being brought 997 about by the action of the Scientific Research Council. They are increasing the number of advanced course awards which they select for relevance to industrial needs. They are encouraging post-experience courses—and this is absolutely vital if we are (as the Americans would say) to "retread" our industrial technologists when their tyres become a little worn. The Scientific Research Council is also encouraging co-operation between pure science departments and industry by making a number of cooperative awards, and the figure for this is rising from something like 90 in 1967 to about 180 in 1969. Above all, the S.R.C. is encouraging universities to institute the new type of Ph.D., of which we have heard a great deal this evening. But this is only the beginning: there is a very great deal more to be done.
For instance, why is it that, in universities, departments of architecture accept as an axiom that those who teach architecture must be practising architects, yet in engineering departments no-one seems to think it odd that so few of the staff hold a position in an industrial firm? Then again, why is it that so much of our graduate training concentrates upon producing men who expect to engage in research and development in industry? I understand that only a small part of industrial technology is concerned with research and development: most technologists are needed to solve problems in, for example, maintenance and design; that is to say, to improve existing products rather than to invent new ones.
I make these suggestions simply in order to show that there are many of us in the universities who entirely applaud the spirit of the Swann Report, and of the equally important Lighthill Report of the Royal Society on Postgraduate Training in Engineering and Technology, which was published this January but which has not: been mentioned much in this debate. But if attitudes in the universities have to change, as has been said so often this evening, so have attitudes in industry got to change. For instance, while British industry gave in answer to one inquiry the reply that there was no shortage of qualified scientists and engineers, the Brooking Institute, on the other hand, said that there was an acute 998 shortage. Let me put that another way. If United States firms snap up British Ph.D.s in technology, why are these Ph.D.s not snapped up by firms in Britain?
The Swann Report singled out the record of Ph.D.s in physics as an example of how few graduates go into industry and how university physics departments eat their own children. But what encouragement, except perhaps from Mullards, do physicists get to go into industry? Moreover, it seems to me that there is some doubt whether some of the deductions in the Swann Report about physicists are quite so clear-cut as they seem to be. For instance, the 'United States channel fewer physicists per head of the population into industry than Britain does. Moreover, I think the Swann figures did not take into account the number of physicists who go into Government research establishments, which are in fact a branch of industry rather than an offshoot of the universities. If you add those physicists in with the physicists in industry, you get figures which are not totally dissimilar to those in chemistry and which show the relationship of chemistry departments to the chemical industry.
Time and again, as we have often heard in this debate, the heads of university departments complain that industry does not know how to use the graduates that the universities turn out. Sc often one hears that they are given jobs on "O"-level basis, and that the two-year graduate trainee schemes too often train them in outmoded industrial techniques. Further, the mechanical engineering industry is accused of not understanding the potentiality of its graduates because it is too much a conglomeration of family-run businesses. But even if we take a large company such as Esso, which has uniform international performance standards, why is it that 90 per cent. of the board in the United States are qualified scientists or engineers, that 50 per cent. of the board in Germany are qualified scientists or engineers but only 17 per cent. in Britain? These are figures which I think people ought to ponder.
My Lords, we have identified a problem. We may have identified it two decades too late, but we have identified it, and we are well on the way to discovering sensible remedies. May I now come 999 to my second point? How can we get the remedies taken? How do we persuade university departments to change their ways, their curricula, their teaching? Some people will say, "Let the Government do this". The Government are almost certain to refuse—and very wisely. Why should the Minister of State put herself in the position of being accused of interference in the affairs of the autonomous universities? She may use her powers of persuasion—and they are very great—but she, very wisely, will not lay down rules. Then, other people say, "Let the U.G.C. do this". But the U.G.C.'s subject committees are at present much more pressure groups for expanding (and perhaps at the same time rationalising) a subject than for advising on the curriculum in first and postgraduate degrees.
Then again, others might suggest that the Scientific Research Council should enter the lists as persuaders. They are indeed able to induce change by the way they allocate their post-graduate awards, but I would guess that they would rightly say that their reputation for impartiality and fair dealing would be impaired if they were asked to become arbiters. Then, of course, there is the Royal Society, with all its great prestige. Could not that act as an arbiter and as a persuader? Nearly ten years ago the Royal Society advised universities to abolish the old departments of zoology, botany, genetics and so forth, and to organise biological studies into a school of biology so that there could be far greater flexibility and so that new subjects could grow and old, outworn subjects be decently put to sleep. The new universities, of course, are organised on these lines; and some of the old ones may also be now. But certainly Cambridge and London, to name two of the most distinguished biological centres in this country, are not. They have disregarded the Royal Society's proposal, and have no intention of changing.
Moreover, if we take the issue we are now debating, the Lighthill Report is full of wisdom, so it seems to me, but its recommendation that all the Ph.D. work in the subject should be concentrated in a few large engineering schools will not commend itself to the vast majority of engineering departments in 1000 universities, because they are small. It will commend itself all the less in view of the fact that the Lighthill Committee were composed of four professors of engineering, all from Imperial College, which could be expected to be the principal beneficiary of their proposal. This is the problem which we are up against, my Lords, and I remember well saying to Lord Blackett in 1963 how difficult it was to get university departments to change their ways. He then said, "There is one simple way: offer them earmarked grants. Those who want to change will take the money and will then forge ahead". But to-day there is no possibility of operating in that way. Universities will in fact have to cut back on one activity if they want to develop another. Funds are so short that that is quite inevitable. So we come back to the problem: how are we to persuade university departments to change the kind of work they are doing and the content of the courses which lead to first or higher degrees?
I remember having a discussion with Lord Brown on this subject some years ago, when we were talking about the transmogrification (if I may call it that) of the College of Advanced Technology, which is now Brunel University. I was much more of Lord Brown's way of thinking than perhaps he may have thought at the time. But one is up against the difficulty that in the university form of government there is no one body which can say definitely, "This is the line and this will be taken". I think that this is going to lead in future years to universities having to re-think their structure of government—but that is too long a story to embark on at this point.
My Lords, I do not for one moment suggest that I know the answer to this problem, but I am convinced that it is just as important a problem as the identification of the problem and the suggestion of the remedies, which Professor Swann and the authors of the other Reports mentioned this evening have done. Let us be quite clear that the Swann Report was not the first to discover that something was wrong and needed to be done. Lord Jackson has given the greater part of the last fifteen years to discussing, debating and agitating (in the most respectable way, I hasten to say) to get 1001 change. This problem is of such importance to a country that a way must be found to feed back the findings of these expert Committees into the universities, the polytechnics and the colleges of further education, so that the scientific and engineering departments take account of the debate as it is proceeding.
Perhaps I should just add here that it needs, I think, a recognition, as Lord Todd reminded us, that in fact institutions which teach science and engineering are very different, and that there are differences between universities just as there are differences between a university and a polytechnic. This fact must be taken into account if we are to get sense in this matter. It may be that we need further discussion, but let us not wait before setting up (and I suggest that it should be under the U.G.C.) a negotiating body—or bodies, because it may have to be done regionally—which would in the first instance visit engineering departments and make positive recommendations for action to them and to the vice-chancellor of the universities. I do not believe that there is any other way of translating words into action. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Brown, could find one of those flags which used to be attached to Churchill's files and which bore the legend, "Action this day"!
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, BOARD OF TRADE (LORD BROWN)
My Lords, this has been an extremely important debate; indeed, I think it would be difficult to over-emphasise its importance, and we must all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones for giving us the opportunity for this discussion. I do not think I am over-stating the position when I suggest that had a series of debates of this kind taken place at any time between 1800 and 1900, and had the same sentiments been expressed, it is extremely doubtful whether we should have found ourselves in the economic troubles from which we suffer to-day. Many of your Lordships realise that it was about 1800 that the French founded their écoles politechniques, the Germans founded their technical high schools and other European nations were following suit. I think that all we had in this country to put against those great efforts 1002 was the foundation of Anderson's Polytechnic in Glasgow, subsequently to become, in turn, the Royal Technical College of Glasgow and then Strathclyde University.
§ LORD BOWDEN
My Lords, there were many other institutions at the same time, one of which is in Manchester, and another is Birkbeck College.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, my history is no doubt deficient; but that is the one which caught my attention in the writings on the subject.
§ LORD BROWN
That is my information, too.
But, my Lords, had we listened to Lionel Playfair, Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh, who later became Speaker of the House of Commons, I think we should have been better off than we are to-day. I quote one extract front what he wrote in 1873:New professions are arising around us, but for these our old universities make no provisions, and all professions have completely changed their aspects, yet the schools and the colleges remain as of old. Perhaps the most robust men of our time have been our engineers and mechanicians for they have given more impulse to civilisation than any other class of men. But I look in vain for a single representative man among our Telfords, Watts, Stephensons, Arkwrights, and Wedgewoods, whose intellect was nurtured on ancient classical learning or who could find anything in school life to aid the development of their genius.In a debate of this kind to-day I was disappointed not to see more wholehearted support for the Swann Report. I thought it was an excellent Report. I detected in some parts of the debate today the carrying through to 1969 of some of the attitudes which characterised our attitude to science in the mid-19th 1003 century. I am sorry to say this; but I detected—and sometimes from the younger Members of the House—a defensive support of the status quo. I think that one of the greatest dangers that we suffer from—and I am with the noble Lord, Lord Annan, here—is that we have this deep resistance to change in every one of our institutions, whether they be schools, universities or industry. I almost want change for the sake of change in our particular society at this time; because this is the greatest thing from which we suffer.
I speak strongly on these matters because I believe, with many other speakers to-day, that there are in our schools and universities and industries a growing number of—shall I call them?—iconoclasts ready to stand up to be counted and who believe change is necessary. But these men always are surrounded by those who advise caution. These men always take the risk in our society of being regarded as cranks who are in too much of a hurry. They lose place because of their enthusiasm. I want to see Reports like these that we have discussed to-day backed; because by so doing we are backing those who, I think, are of larger vision than the others who want to keep us where we are. I want to give them the support of these debates, to let them know that though they may be the growing few, at least they are on the side of the angels. Unless we back initiatives of the kind that they support, I think the future of our country economically is indeed grim.
My Lords, the focus of our discussion has been on the recommendations of the Swann Report, but some noble Lords have touched on the subjects covered by the Dainton Report, which is concerned with the teaching of science in our schools and the encouragement of a greater flow of pupils from schools into science and applied science courses in the universities. What I want to take particular note of here—and again I am grateful for the contribution made by the noble Lord, Lord Annan—is the question; Who is to stimulate these changes in our schools which will result in a larger body of these young people realising that science, and applied science in particular, really does (if this country is to go the way it ought to go) hold out the great opportunity of 1004 the most exciting creative careers in the future? Who is going to do the job?
I do not think the Government can do it. What we must do is to excite education authorities up and down the country; excite individual teachers to pursue their enthusiasm; excite industrialists and engineers working in the companies in the vicinity of these schools, to do their best to enthuse the teachers and the pupils alike. I cannot think there is any other way to tackle this job. Certainly, I cannot see the Government stepping in and giving direct instructions to the education authorities to do this or do that. It will not happen that way. So we are in the hands of tens of thousands of professional citizens in various walks of life; and unless this bug bites them and they can see that our economic future and our industrial future as a great trading nation is in the hands of changes in those schools, then we shall not get it.
I cannot go further without making reference to the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale. It was extremely enlightening and was given with great fluidity. It covered a vast range of initiatives in the field of the development of natural resources, which certainly excited me. I am not going to respond by commenting on what he said because, despite the fact that this debate has encompassed the field of investment in the development of natural resources, the main bent of the discussion has been in other directions. I think it is now too late to proceed on to a discussion of that. The only thing I will say is this. There is more going on than I think the noble Earl acknowledges—I hesitate to say "than he recognises", because I am sure he knows what is going on. For instance the Institute of Geological Sciences, a component body of the Natural Environmental Research Council, is continuing an important scientific investigation of the mineral resources of the United Kingdom and of its Continental Shelf, especially hydro-carbons for natural gas supply and the like. Things like this are going on. I do not think we want to be too pessimistic.
The noble Lord, Lord Balerno, raised the question of preferential salaries. This is a matter for the Burnham Committee to consider. It is a fact that science teachers do better than average in getting responsibility and head-of-department 1005 allowances partly because of their shortage. But I do not know whether the Burnham Committee has the courage to move forward and take this great decision to begin giving preferential treatment to these teachers; and it is not for me, as a Minister of the Crown, to stand here and state my preferences. Noble Lords may deduce them from the way I am talking about the whole subject.
My Lords, turning to what is going on in the universities, I have here a catalogue of things that are happening, and even though it is late I will skim through it, because I do not think that we ought to be left after this debate with a feeling that all that Swann suggests lies in front of us; a little of it has already been accomplished. About 11,000 students are being educated via sandwich courses in our universities, thus getting practical experience of industry during university life. Here I should like to turn to my noble friend of "sandwich course fame", if I may put it in that way. I think he has a legitimate grouse in the sense that Swann made no reference to the whole movement of sandwich courses in the universities which used to be the colleges of advanced technology. Yes, my Lords, I think it is a pity that this great movement was not mentioned. It has done so much for applied science and has been of such help to industry, for these students from the sandwich courses are treasured in industry. I am sure that the noble Lord has a very good point.
Six universities have accepted substantial Ministry of Technology support for industrial units which will help to make their facilities available for industry on contract. The Birniehill Institute of Advanced Machine Tool and Control Technology has been set up, with links with the University of Strathclyde and the National Engineering Laboratory. The Science Education Department of Chelsea College is turning graduates into teachers with a special capacity for teaching science and mathematics, and similar courses exist at Brunel and Bath. Stirling has established a Chair which teaches technological economics. Lancaster has departments of operational research and systems engineering which are strongly industrially oriented and, indeed, derive a fair amount of their income from 1006 industry itself. Birmingham, Newcastle, Oxford and Cambridge are also running courses similar to those at Stirling which I have mentioned. Surrey, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Oxford, Sheffield and HeriotWatt have obtained U.G.C. support for setting up industrial liaison organisations. Ministry of Technology industrial liaison centres exist at Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde, Cardiff, Manchester, Aston, Bath, Brunel, City and Surrey Universities. These centres attempt to make available to industry the whole range of advisory services available from the Ministry of Technology and from other sources, and more of these centres exist inside technical colleges.
My Lords, the University Grants Committee has given special "pump-priming" grants to 14 universities to help them establish various types of courses whose aim is to encourage the orientation of university work towards industrial problems and to encourage collaboration with industry. So far 403 awards have been granted by the Science Research Council—the noble Lord, Lord Annan, made reference to this point—to first degree graduates who enter industry. These guarantee their ability to take up a post-graduate course in a university at any point in the five years following their entry into industry. These awards are a direct encouragement to some of our best students to postpone their desire to take up research work in a university for a second degree and to enter industry immediately. It is possible that over 200 of these awards will be given in the current year, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, will be very pleased to hear that.
My Lords, this year about 180 awards will be made to post-graduate .science students working on projects of industrial interest which have the support of an industrial firm. Seven specialised technology courses of the kind recommended by the Bosworth Committee—I am proud to have been a member of the Bosworth Committee for the initial three months of its existence—either exist or are planned. These are sponsored jointly by academic and industrial institutions concerned either with the design of products or the technology of their production. They result in students working within industry and lead to Master of Science degrees 1007 or diplomas. This is a wonderful development. It means that students can leave university and continue to work for a higher degree in an industry while being looked after by some industrial institution and by the university simultaneously.
I am sorry to burden your Lordships with so much detail, but it is important that we should be aware of the fact that not only is thought being given to new types of industrially oriented activity at the universities, but also that at least some concrete results have been achieved. I do not want to exaggerate the extent to which these have gone but they are a beginning, and from small beginnings bigger things grow.
The noble Lord, Lord Byers, has referred in strong terms to the need for transferability of pensions. I want to say to him that this is not a subject which has been unthought of by Government. It has received some extremely deep consideration. I am sorry to say that it is a very difficult problem to which to find a solution, but the Government have not finished looking at it. Transferability between Government employees has gone a very long way, but it is transferability of people between Government service and between all the various schemes that industry runs that is the difficulty. I am sure that this can be achieved if time can be spent to get down to it, but it is a very big job.
The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, stated that there were 300 unfilled medical vacancies in universities, and I must take him up on that point. That is wrong. These vacancies do not exist. If he wants an explanation—
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, the figure I quoted was from the University central clearing house for entries.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, I am aware of the source of the figure, but all I want to say at this late hour is that that is a wrong figure. Those vacancies do not exist and a later statement from the authorities concerned in fact corrects it.
My Lords, there has also been much comment from a number of noble Lords about the fact that there are 1,200 vacancies for scientists, and 400 for technologists in the universities. This is not a matter of fact in the way it has been 1008 stated by many noble Lords. I do not want to go into too deep an explanation, but the universities make estimates of the probable number of graduates that they think they will be able to take at some point in the future—say six months or a year hence. These students come to them at various points in the year and finally, if one makes an assessment of the estimates of the number of places and the actual number of students that come in, you get these discrepancies. But the actual vacancies which were predicted do not always exist in the number predicted and bald statements about 1,200 unfulfilled positions are really in many cases highly misleading. It is not as simple as that. There is a very serious problem as the Swann Report shows, but there have been over-simplified statements about the sort of problem that exists.
My Lords, there has been much support of Swann's recommendations, from the noble Lords, Lord Byers, Lord Mitchison and Lord Aberdare, for more generalisation of education both in the schools and in the universities. On the other hand, there has been criticism. There are those who have said during the debate that if the teaching of scientists and engineers in our universities is more generalised, and if in addition you are going to give them the opportunity of learning how to teach the subjects, you cannot do it in three years. I think this is typical of the reaction of some people, in universities and elsewhere, to any suggestion that the content of any course should be changed. What they say is, "Oh, no, we cannot change it without adding to it." This means, "We are not going to change, we are merely going to add to it." It seems to me that unless universities can face the fact that in many cases the content of courses must be changed towards more generalisation without lengthening them, without additional expense, and without a fresh influx of teachers, and so on, they are not facing the needs of the day; and I think that on this point Swann is quite right.
My noble friends Lord Mais and Lord Bowden have drawn attention to a problem which is not dealt with by the Swann Report. I do not think we can criticise the Committee for not doing so because, after all, a Report must be focused on a narrow area if it is making a deep study of a subject.
1009 My noble friends raised the problem of the H.N.C. students. I would remind my noble friend Lord Hill of Wivenhoe that when the colleges of advanced technology were set up, with the N.C.T.A. benignly presiding over them, one of the first provisions made was that young men in industry who had done well in the ordinary national certificate should be allowed access to the C.A.T.s. The significant thing was that these boys, who did not have "A" levels and had ordinary National Certificates, based on apprenticeships in industrial firms, did very much better than those who stayed on at school and did "A" levels. This should be borne in mind. This is the sort of opportunity which should be given to those in industry who have a strong motivation to study. They are the people we want in the universities, the earthy creatures who can combine practice and theory and who are very valuable when they go hack into industry.
I apologise for making too little reference to many of the contributions made by noble Lords in the course of the debate. I notice that some are not here now, so I may escape their wrath. The noble Lord, Lord Todd, made a speech which contained a great deal of wisdom, but I disagree with him on the emphasis he put on the Ph.D. course as the right form of training for the cream of the intellectuals. I do not accept this, and I do not think that Swann accepts it. Certainly we must train a proportion of our best brains by the sort of disciplines inherent in a Ph.D. course and in continued research, but we must, at the same time, have a proportion of our best men in industry, not carrying on research, but planning all the complex disciplines involved in the management of great industrial concerns.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, may I intervene to say that there was no intention on my part to suggest that the only people with ability are people with academic ability? I was talking about the 10 per cent. who have the academic ability to do that type of work and carry on science. I should be the last to suggest that there is not a large number of able people who do not have that particular type of ability, and I said it was only those who are really academically 1010 able who should continue in specialist Ph.D. courses.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. We may have misunderstood each other. On the other hand, we may not; because I was going on to say that so long as we have 64 per cent. of our first-class honours science students remaining in the universities to do Ph.D. courses, or to continue their studies, and a tiny proportion going into industry, something is wrong in the state of affairs.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, as I said, we may not be. But my criticism of the current position rests not merely on what the noble Lord says but on this figure of 64 per cent. of honours graduates who are not going into industry. Industry needs them. Industry has to compete with an environment where there is great freedom of discipline, where there is the discretion to take long holidays and security of tenure. It is a difficult job for industry to pull these boys out of universities, with these almost idyllic conditions for some minds, and to get them working in the tough hurly-burly of industry. I should like to see more of them coming out and I hope that Swann will help to get them out.
I agree with a great deal of what has been said in this debate about the failure of industry to pay graduates sufficiently. I do not think that industry is paying enough for its senior managers, technologists and scientists. But in talking about the failure of industry to reward these exceptional people who are coining from universities, we have to remember that they form not more than 1 per cert. of our population. Again, industry does not provide these men with the type of responsibility which their intellectual capacity entitles them to have; instead it bores them to tears. The pattern of greater growth is not clear to these young men, and because they cannot see the possibilities that lie ahead, in despair they leave one industry and go to another or emigrate. I do not want to say too much about this point, because perhaps too 1011 much has been made of it during the debate.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, would it not be advisable for the noble Lord to make it clear that he is not talking about the whole of industry? A percentage of industry is doing these things, but not enough of them.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, the noble Lord interrupted me to make the point that I was going to make. Just as some of the universities are doing extraordinarily well and are full of liveliness and new ideas, when it comes to industry some are doing extraordinarily well and some are doing too little.
There is one other thing which I should like to emphasise; that is, the need for a change of structure in the government of our universities—the noble Lord, Lord Annan, made reference to this point—which will allow more people in industry to feel it worth while to spend time sitting on the councils of our universities. At the present moment, I believe that too often the pattern of government is concerned with a council, which may meet four times a year, which will pay a great deal of attention to the finances of a university—which is always supposed to be, in the eyes of the senate of the university, a fit and proper subject for them to consider—and very little to the academic and research policies of the university itself.
I well remember sitting as a member of the council of one university threshing out a new charter. In the course of doing this, I, along with others, read the charters of a number of existing universities, and in a high proportion of them one found, when one came to a definition of the role of the council of the university, these words:That the Council, subject to a recommendation from the Senate, shall decide …"—and then it said pretty well everything. We decided that this meant, in effect, that until the senate had discussed changes and decided that they were sound, the council was not able to resolve upon them. That is the position in a large number of our universities to-day. We therefore decided to change the words so that they read:The Council, subject to taking into account any recommendations from the Senate, shall decide the following…".1012 Then a frightful battle ensued, which went on for a year.
The point I am making is that until we begin to look at the structure of universities and begin to realise that they must, in the interests of society, be governed by a body composed not only to a large extent of the staff of the university but also by those who represent the society which pays for these institutions, we shall not get external society, in the shape of its citizens and industrialists, to take that interest in its deliberations which will lead to the greater fusion of industry and university. We shall not get the university orientating itself more to the needs of industry, on whom it depends fundamentally, in the long run, for its funds; and we shall not get industry, surrounding the universities, recognising that by taking more interest in what is going on inside those institutions and extracting from them the growing volume of knowledge which it can use, it will be doing the best for its own economic future. It is this sort of fusion of interest which must be stimulated, and I think the governmental structure of these universities ought to be looked at seriously in order to bring a situation of this sort about.
My Lords, I think I have said enough. I want to close by apologising to those noble Lords on whose speeches I have failed to comment, and, above all, by expressing my candid and grateful thanks to Professor Swann and to his confederates on his Committee who produced this Report. And. While I am about it, I should like to say how grateful we are to Professor Dainton for his complementary Report. I think they have done a service to education in producing these Reports for which we must be grateful.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords. I wish to express my thanks to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and may I particularly thank my noble friend the Minister who has replied for his courtesy in listening to so much of this debate and for replying to it in such detail. I would make just this one comment. I certainly am not opposed to the Swann Report. I found the Swann Report a fascinating and important document. Otherwise, I should not have wished to have it discussed to-day; nor, 1013 indeed, should I have taken the trouble to criticise it. I would, however, add this. If my noble friend's interpretation of some parts of the Swann Report is correct, perhaps I should have been even more critical of it. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.