EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
Universities (Qualified Applicants)
20. Mr. Dalyell
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what latest figures she has for the number of qualified applicants who have been refused university places.[column 597]
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
The best and latest information available is contained in the Statistical Supplement to the Ninth Report of the Universities Central Council for Admissions, 1970–71. I am sending the hon. Member a copy.
Having seen that, do the Government share the publicly-stated anxieties of the vice-chancellors about the future intakes of students, given the very real uncertainties that surround the quinquennium?
The vice-chancellors probably have differing views about the intakes. I hope before long to make an announcement about the quinquennium.
Is not it a myth that all qualified applicants can derive some benefit from attending university? Is not there quite a strong case for arguing that at least a modest minority of qualified applicants can obtain more satisfaction from going straight from school into some other occupation?
An increasing number of qualified applicants have been going to polytechnics and further education colleges. Some of them prefer to go out into the world first and then, perhaps, to go into the higher education system later.
Does the right hon. Lady agree that whatever figures she has for graduate unemployment they are no argument for reducing the Government's proposals for a higher education programme, because not enough is known about the circumstances of graduate unemployment?
I think that the hon. Gentleman will find when the quinquennium is announced that it provides for an increase in the number of university places.
Direct Grant Schools
22. Sir Gilbert Longden
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will reopen the list of direct grant schools; and if she will recapitulate her policy towards these schools.
I have not found it possible to reopen the list. My policy is to encourage the existing direct grant [column 598]schools, and I have done this by improving the arrangements for fee remission and the rate of capitation grant.
Sir Gilbert Longden
I acknowledge the great help that my right hon. Friend has been to these admirable institutions, which are a bridge between the public sector and the private sector, but could not she reconsider her decision not to re-open the list?
I have never wholly closed my mind upon the matter, but it is a question of what can be done within the time available. I should like to reassure my hon. Friend that in due course I will certainly reconsider the question.
May I remind the right hon. Lady of the promise in the Gracious Speech to set new priorities in education? In implementing that promise, will she forget about any further privileges for the direct grant schools and concentrate on making greater provision in staffing, buildings, equipment—and almost everything else—in schools for the handicapped, where the situation is rapidly becoming a national scandal?
The direct grant schools perform an excellent service to the nation's children. I agree that the schools for the mentally and physically handicapped also do so, and we hope to improve the capital programme for them in the future, as in the past.
Will my right hon. Friend consider the matter very soon, because more places need to be provided in direct grant schools? In this connection I should like to refer to Oral Question No. 18, which was not asked, because there is great pressure in the areas that it mentions for more school places of every kind.
I cannot say when I shall reconsider the reopening of the direct grant list. We have done as much as we can to help such schools to take pupils, whatever their background, and in this connection have done a great deal through the incomes remission scale.