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University Students (Grants)

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 28 February 1952

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asked the Minister of Education whether her attention has been drawn to the resolution of the Birmingham University Guild Council, a copy of which has been sent her, expressing concern at educational economies and fearing reductions in grants made to students in universities and colleges; and how many local education authorities have expressed their intention of securing economies in 1952–53 by reductions in number or amount of such awards.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes." I cannot answer the second part, but I am sending the hon. Member a copy of a circular in which I asked local education authorities to postpone their decisions on this matter until they have had an opportunity of considering some information which I shall be sending them shortly, and of further consultation with me.

Is the Minister aware of the concern among university students throughout the country that her recent ill-advised circular will be used as an excuse to cut down grants for university training? Will she give an assurance that she will not in any way allow that circular to be used by reactionary authorities to cut the grants to students upon whom this country will depend so much in the future?

I have already stated that the number of State scholarships and supplementary State scholarships and other university awards will be the same. The reason I have asked local authorities to consider the points I have sent them, and to consult me, is that I wish for the fairest distribution of awards throughout the country. I am discussing with the university authorities and representatives of local authorities what should be the maintenance standard. I am anxious to see that the standard shall not be too low, and I am sending local authorities a table showing the number of scholarships given in different areas in ratio to the pupils, so that we may get a fairer distribution.