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Aston University

Volume 20: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has had further representations from Aston university regarding the reduction in its grant by the University Grants Committee.

As well as other representations received, my right hon. Friend and I have both visited Aston university recently and have been able to hear the views of staff and students at first hand.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the University Grants Committee has recommended the closure of the biological sciences department at Aston university? Does my hon. Friend agree that the kind of research carried on in this faculty, which involves close co-operation with industry on projects of great commercial potential, make it precisely the wrong place to close? Will my hon. Friend therefore urge the UGC to change its recommendations in this respect?

The UGC has recently written to the vice chancellor of Aston discussing his proposal to make larger cuts in engineering than proposed in order to keep open the biological sciences department. These matters are still under discussion between the university and the UGC.

Does the Under-Secretary agree with the statement made by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in a debate on television with the vice chancellor of Aston university that of the technological universities, only two have suffered cuts, while three have expanded, and eight have remained stable? Does the hon. Gentleman think, on reflection, that that statement can be justified, particularly with reference to Aston university?