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Higher Education (Spare Places)

Volume 984: debated on Tuesday 6 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the present estimate of spare places for suitably qualified candidates in higher education.

There is no evidence of any substantial excess of capacity across the country, but there is evidence of spare places on courses in certain subject areas. Since admissions are for individual institutions to determine, I could not specify an exact number of places.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Will he indicate the courses that have an especially large number of vacancies?

I can tell my hon. Friend' that 18-year-olds who apply for courses in medicine, law and English will need high grades. Over the past two or three years 18-year-olds who applied for courses in engineering, classics and Russian would have been accepted with reasonable grades.

Will my hon. Friend assure us that those places will not be taken up by foreign students from outside the Commonwealth at the expense of the British taxpayer?

I can say to my hon. Friend that, until last year, had those places been taken up by foreign students from outside the Commonwealth, they would have been subsidised by the British Government by 60 to 70 per cent. Now, those students will at least pay an economic price and not be a burden on our taxpayers and ratepayers.