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Universities (Management)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements she has made for the audit of management practice in universities. [4565]

Margaret Hodge: The Financial Memorandum between the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and each institution it funds requires institutions to have sound systems of internal control and to demonstrate they are securing good value for money. The HEFCE Audit Code of Practice states that these systems should be audited by the institution's internal and external auditors, and that the institution's audit committee should report annually on their effectiveness. In addition, the HEFCE Audit Service reviews high-level

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management arrangements as well as the effectiveness of institutions' governance and audit arrangements by means of a programme of audit visits. In line with corporate governance changes nationally, institutions will in future be required to include a statement of internal control, including risk management, in their published and audited financial statements every year.

Education Funding Strategy Group

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when she expects the Education Funding Strategy Group to report; and if she will make a statement. [4615]

Mr. Timms: The Education Funding Strategy Group has been set up to develop the proposals outlined in the September 2000 Green Paper "Modernising Local Government Finance". No firm date has been set for the completion of its work.


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what notification schools were given about

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recent increases in the cost of examinations; and if she will make a statement. [4660]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is for the independent awarding bodies to determine their own procedures with regard to notifying examination centres about examination fees. However, I understand that for the summer 2001 examinations, the notice given centres varied from March to November 2000, depending upon the awarding body. Awarding bodies also post details of fees on their websites.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average examination fee was for (a) GCSEs, (b) AS-levels and (c) A-levels, for each year since 1990 in (i) cash prices and (ii) real terms prices against a 1990 baseline. [4661]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: As the fees are set by the individual awarding bodies and can vary between subjects, it is not possible to provide precise figures. Also, given the changes to the complement of, and services provided by, the awarding bodies over the period it is not possible to provide figures before the academic year 1995–96. Estimates of the amounts charged in cash prices and real terms from 1995–96 are given in the table.


GCSE GCE A-level(25) GCE A-level(26) GCE AS-level(26)
Academic yearCash priceReal termsCash priceReal termsCash priceReal termsCash price Real terms

(25) Linear

(26) Modular

(27) A direct comparison with A-level (modular) prices in 2000–01 is not possible as there were several models in use, that is two modules, four modules, six modules etc. This figure has been determined using an average of the six module course


This information has been provided by the Joint Council for General Qualifications

School Transport

Mr. Peter Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what arrangements exist to pay education authorities for post-16 school transport. [4665]

Mr. Timms: Funding for post-16 transport is distributed via local education authorities as part of the Education Standard Spending Assessment (SSA). LEAs will continue to receive recognition in SSAs for this after the responsibility for funding post 16-school provision passes to the Learning and Skills Council in 2002–03. LEAs also receive School Access Funds to help students meet the costs of their learning, including travel. Education Maintenance Allowances, which are means tested payments to the student, are being piloted in 56 LEAs and this money is frequently used to cover transport costs. Five of the pilots are specifically designed to address transport costs.


Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many low income families in the Christchurch constituency have received a computer under the Computers Within Reach initiative; and how many are expected to do so during the next year; [4758]

John Healey: No low income families have so far received a computer under the scheme in the Christchurch constituency, as it is not within a Computers Within Reach pilot area. I have not made decisions on the location of any future pilots.

We do not hold the information by constituency but the numbers of low income families who have, or will benefit from phase 1 of the Computers Within Reach scheme by area—with the relevant constituencies covered in each area listed after the total number of customers—are as follows.

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Pilot area Number delivered by 13 JulyTotal number to be delivered into area during pilot phase Constituency
Aidis106151Cover all pilot areas
Birmingham1,4672,000Birmingham, Edgbaston
Birmingham, Erdington
Birmingham, Hall Green
Birmingham, Hodge Hill
Birmingham, Ladywood
Birmingham, North Field
Birmingham, Perry Bar
Birmingham, Selly Oak
Birmingham, Sparkbrook and Small Heath
Birmingham, Yardley
Hull404427Hull, West and Hessle
Hull, East
Hull, North
Portsmouth320320Portsmouth, North
Portsmouth, South
Rother Valley
Doncaster8982,301Barnsley East and Mexborough
Doncaster, Central
Doncaster, North
Sheffield1,5174,106Sheffield, Attercliffe
Sheffield, Brightside
Sheffield, Central
Sheffield, Hallam
Sheffield, Heeley
Manchester1,0242,389Manchester, Blackley
Manchester, Central
Manchester, Gorton
Manchester, Withington
Leeds1,6101,610Leeds, Central
Leeds, East
Leeds, North-East
Leeds, North-West
Leeds, West
Liverpool1,6352,321Liverpool, Garston
Wired up Communities Pilot—Liverpool2,0002,000Liverpool, Riverside
Liverpool, Walton
Liverpool, Wavertree
Liverpool, West Derby
London5812,416Bexleyheath and Crayford
Erith and Thamesmead
Old Bexley and Sidcup
Hackney, North and Stoke Newington
Hackney, South and Shoreditch
Dulwich and West Norwood
Camberwell and Peckham
Southwark and Bermondsey
Bethnal Green and Bow
Poplar and Canning Town
Cities of London and Westminster
Bradford225483Bradford, North
Bradford, South
Bradford, West
Colne Valley
Luton119119Luton, North
Luton, South
Plymouth9141,000Devon, South-West
Plymouth, Devonport
Plymouth, Sutton

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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many low income families have so far obtained access to computers under the Computers Within Reach initiative launched in December 1999; and at what cost to public funds; [4759]

John Healey: The first phase of the Computers Within Reach scheme became operational with the launch of a number of locally based pilots in England in October 2000. The proposed subsidy for the scheme was that—in addition to the £60 paid by the customer—the contractor would receive funding of £150 per computer and printer package delivered—with extra subsidy available if the customer was disabled. We have made a number of changes to the proposed approach in terms of enhanced software and specification and purchased a suite of office applications software to be used on each PC and in certain circumstances increased the funding available to contractors in respect of increases in the specification of the computers supplied.

Phase 1 of the scheme will be closed by the end of August 2001 and 24,051 PCs will have been delivered by this time. This will ensure that everyone on the waiting list will have received a computer. We do not hold data on the average length of time between application and delivery of computers but became aware of issues which were causing delays. These problems have now been resolved and all outstanding applicants will receive a computer before the end of phase 1.

The scheme is subject to an external research evaluation contract and we will be using this and our internal evaluation to learn the lessons from the first phase. We are currently considering how to take the scheme forward.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many computers have been installed in homes and schools under the Wired up Communities initiative; and how many will be installed by 31 December. [4762]

John Healey: So far under the Wired up Communities initiative, 1,840 recycled computers have been installed into homes in the phase one project in Kensington, Liverpool. No computers have yet been installed in schools. There is no target for installation of computers by 31 December 2001.

However, by 31 March 2002, the seven Wired up Communities projects aim to connect 14,000 homes to the Internet using a variety of devices, including new and recycled computers and television set-top boxes.

Also, through the national e-Learning Foundation, 33 schools in the Wired up Communities areas will be wired up using technology such as electronic whiteboards and laptops. Some 12,000 schoolchildren will benefit from this new technology.

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