I read recently in an education journal that student grants only have an annual 3½%; inflation factor for the three years 1971/74. This is simply not true.
The Triennial settlement which I approved covers the academic years 1971/72 to 1973/74. The majority of our students are at provincial universities. Taking therefore the figures for the provincial universities the settlement which I approved represented increases over the previous year of 13.1%; in 1971, 3.5%; in 1972 and 4.5%; in 1973.
This means that by September 1973, grants for students at provincial universities will be 22.3%; higher than the grant for September 1970. For students in London and in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge the corresponding figure is 19%;.
How does this compare with the rise in the cost of living? In the twelve months from September 1970 which culminated in a 13.1%; increase in grants for the majority of students the general index of retail prices rose by under 10%;. More recently the rate of increase in the index has been somewhat lower, and it is probable that over the two years from September 1970 the total increase will have been of the order of 16%; to 17%;. In that same two years student grants, which had already been raised in September 1970, will have been increased at provincial universities by a further 17%;. It is not possible on the basis of these figures to argue, as I have seen attempted, that the level of student grants has been ‘hopelessly overtaken by inflation’. [end p1]
Another subject which is very properly of interest to the student world is that of student residence. I do not think it is sufficiently appreciated what great strides have been made in recent years. For example the number of university students for whom residence was provided in 1961/62 was 32,000 which was 28.1%; of the total. In 1971/72, 86,750 students were in residence which was very nearly 39%; of the total.
But the story does not end there. When I announced the 1973/74 University Building programme of a total value of £27m., I told the University Grants Committee that I had taken special note of the Universities' needs for student residence and expressed the hope that they would be able, within the programme, to make provision for some 13,000 to 14,000 residential places, far more than had ever been included in a programme before. I therefore expect that there will be about 120,000 residential places in Universities by 1974/75. These figures speak effectively for themselves.