THE "Returns from Universities and University Colleges in receipt of Treasury Grants. Academic Year 1947-1948"*, recently issued by the University Grants Committee, would, in any event, have been examined with particular interest as the first annual return issued since that for the year 1938-39. Quite apart from the light the returns throw on the course of university expansion, observations by the Committee of Public Accounts in its third report for the session 1948-49 should increase the keenness with which the return is scrutinized. That Committee observes that the Universities Vote raises difficult issues, since rapidly increasing sums are involved, both for recurrent grants and for capital expenditure. The estimate for 1949-50 amounts to £17,564,500, as compared with £12,480,000 for 1948-49, apart from grants for the maintenance of students at the universities, also involving several millions of pounds but borne on other votes. Expenditure by universities, colleges, etc., in Great Britain out of the grants-in-aid is not accounted for in detail to the Comptroller and Auditor General, and the Committee of Public Accounts would like to see introduced more effective means of securing adequate Parliamentary control over this large expenditure of public money. The Committee was, however, impressed by the arguments advanced by the Treasury in favour of continuing the present system of administration without any enabling legislation. While the Committee does not wish to press for such legislation in the circumstances now prevailing, it suggests that the Treasury should consider whether, without impairing the independence of the universities, any further means could be adopted to inform Parliament more precisely how the grant-in aid proposed in the estimate is to be spent and to assure Parliament that grants made to the universities are wisely used.
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Population of British Universities During 1947–48. Nature 164, 783–784 (1949). https://doi.org/10.1038/164783b0