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Birkbeck College (Grant)

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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5.4 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"The cut of half a million pounds in the grant from the university of London to Birkbeck college in the 1987–88 academic year and the prospects of a further sharp decline in the following two years".
That has happened in spite of the commitment by the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he introduced the White Paper:
"I want to encourage more people of all ages to go on to higher education." —[Official Report, 1 April 1987; Vol. 113, c. 1098.]
He made it plain that he regarded the admission of more mature students as a "challenge" to the universities.

Birkbeck is determined to meet those challenges and to continue to provide for its existing students. How then can the Government allow these savage cuts in its grant when, over recent weeks, the Under-Secretary of State has said that Birkbeck should be treated as a special factor in the University Grants Committee's calculation of its block grant to the university of London? A letter from the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) made the same commitments. The Government should now ensure that proper funds are made available to the university of London so that it can treat Birkbeck as a special factor.

The matter is specific and urgent. The future of Birkbeck college and its tradition of part-time education, leading to degrees, depends on the decisions made over the next few weeks. The House should debate this matter.

The hon. Lady asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that she believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the serious cut in funding for Birkbeck college in the next, 1987–88, and subsequent, financial year".
I regret that I have to give the hon. Lady the same answer that I gave her hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron). I do not consider the matter as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20, and cannot, therefore, submit her application to the House.