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Open University

Volume 75: debated on Tuesday 12 March 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his policy for the Open University following the report of the visiting committee.

It is the Government's policy that the Open University should continue to fulfil its role within the higher education sector by providing opportunities for degree level study to those who missed, or did not have, those opportunities earlier in life; and by providing opportunities for continuing education, particularly in the area of professional, industrial and commercial updating. The report of the visiting committee indicated that the university should be able to fulfil its role more economically, but that the Government were expecting it to adjust to lower funding levels too quickly. I have accepted the committee's advice that some alleviation should be offered to previously indicated funding levels, and this is reflected in the grant letter issued to the university on 22 February, copies of which have been placed in the Library.The alleviations provided are in 1985: £1·6 million for restructuring, £0·36 million for promoting a shift to science and technology and £0·039 million to fund additional posts in relation to the new blood and information technology initiatives; and in 1986: £1·2 million for new computing facilities, and £0·8 million to allow for a more gradual approach to reduced grant levels, the switch to science and technology, and the new blood-information technology posts. In aggregate the alleviations amount to about £2 million in each of the years 1985 and 1986.