University Education in Great Britain


    THERE was a debate in the House of Commons on Government assistance for university education in Great Britain on a motion of Captain C. Smith. Captain Smith emphasized the key importance of the universities as institutions of higher learning and centres of research, and asked what is the machinery, if any, relating the expansion of the universities to the continuous long-term needs of the country for specialist professional and technical workers. The present functioning of the University Grants Committee was criticized by several members; and, apart from Mr. Wilson Harris, most members seemed to think that some further organisation is required, particularly to ensure that there is an adequate overall plan. Captain Smith suggested that there should be some form of publication of reports from the University Grants Committee, and while the importance of securing the autonomy of the universities, collectively and individually, was emphasized, there was a general desire evident in the debate that some more effective means of planning the expansion of the universities as a whole from the national point of view should be worked out. Other points raised related to the adequacy of maintenance grants made to students, particularly in view of increased fees and higher costs of living. While the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Whiteley, in replying, made no fresh contribution to the debate, he promised to convey to the Chancellor the various points made; and the debate at least showed that, in the present House of Commons, members are fully alive to the importance of the whole question of university development, and in touch with the proposals which have been advanced in the various reports on the subject already noted in Nature.

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    University Education in Great Britain. Nature 157, 544 (1946).

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