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As the Department was not created until 28 June 2007, the sickness absence figures reported include the actual sickness absence for the period July 2007 to March 2008, with estimated figures given for the period April 2008 to June 2008. The figures include the Department's two agencies, the National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), but they do not include the non-departmental public bodies as the information for them is not held centrally.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility have received sick pay for sick leave due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders since the Department was established; what the average length of time was for which sick pay was paid in these cases; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lammy: Since the formation of the Department to 31 March 2008, 1,034 (52 per cent.) staff from the Department and its agencies have taken a period of sick leave and will have received sick pay but it is not possible to break this down to stress, mental health and behavioural disorders and other illnesses without incurring disproportionate cost. We do know that just under 21 per cent. of all days sickness absence in my Department are due to mental disorders, including stress, and that 958 staff (48 per cent.) have not taken any sick leave in the period described. These figures include the Departments two agencies, the National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), but they do not include the non-departmental public bodies as the information for them is not held centrally.
My Department is aware of the importance of tackling stress, mental health and behavioural issues. Later this year we will be publishing a new stress prevention and management policy called building resilience. We will also be providing learning and development for line managers and mental health awareness events from September.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many students in further education in England failed to complete their course in the last 12 months; and how many of them were in (a) the final year of their course and (b) the first year of their course (i) in total and (ii) broken down by region. 
Bill Rammell: Table 1 shows the percentage and number of students that failed to complete their course in 2006/07 for FE colleges, Work Based Learning (WBL) and Train to Gain (TTG) separately. The figures are calculated using different methodologies and should not be used to compare performance between the sectors. Similar figures for Personal and Community Development Learning are not available.
|Table 1: Percentage and number of students that failed to complete their course in 2006/07 for FE colleges, WBL and TTG|
|Sector||Starts (thousand)||Percentage early leavers||Number early leavers (thousand)|
|Table 2: Percentage and number of FE college students that failed to complete their course by region in 2005/06|
|Sector||Starts||Percentage early leavers||Number early leavers (thousand)|
Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department and its predecessors spent on (a) higher education and (b) further education in Blackpool in each year since 1997. 
Bill Rammell: Expenditure incurred by HEFCE, the Student Loans Company and the Learning and Skills Council is not collected by my Department at the level of detail requested. We will, however, work with HEFCE and the Student Loans Company to try to gain a detailed breakdown of the higher education expenditure and will write to the hon. Member with further relevant detail. Mark Haysom, the LSC's Chief Executive, will write to the hon. Gentleman with additional information on further education expenditure.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the highest 10 payments made by his Department in settlement of personal injury claims brought against it were over the last 12 months for which figures are available; which of those cases were (a) contested and (b) uncontested by the Department; and what the nature of the incident was in each case. 
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of graduates who have not repaid any of their student loan in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Bill Rammell: Borrowers are liable to begin repaying their student loans from the April after they finish or leave their course. Student loans borrowers with income-contingent loans, which were introduced in 1998, repay at a rate of 9 per cent. of earnings above £15,000 per year.
Those earning less than £15,000 are not required to repay. Repayments are collected through the tax system, usually by employers, in the same way as income tax and National Insurance contributions and are therefore automatically deducted. Therefore borrowers covered by the PAYE UK tax system are not able to get into arrears. Self employed borrowers make repayments through the self assessment system.
Borrowers with the older mortgage-style loans repay over a fixed term whenever their income exceeds the repayment threshold, usually through direct debits. The threshold for mortgage-style loans is 85 per cent. of national average earnings, £25,287 from 1 September 2007. Borrowers who demonstrate that their income is below the threshold and for whom the Student Loans Company (SLC) has agreed a deferment of repayment will not make any repayments.
Most of the following provisional information is taken from the Statistical First Release Student Loans for Higher Education in England, Financial Year 2007-08 published by the Student Loans Company in June 2008:
At the end of the 2007-08 financial year there were 1,237,300 income-contingent loan borrowers and nearly 341,100 mortgage-style loan borrowers past statutory repayment due date, i.e. due to repay loans if their income was above the relevant threshold.
|Income-contingent loan borrowers( 1) March 2008|
|(1) Excludes borrowers not yet required to repay because they are still in higher education or have recently left and those with accounts being fully repaid, written-off or closed.|
(2) May have made repayments that did not bring their accounts up to date.
(3) Those for whom the first tax year return has not yet been received by SLC so their repayment status cannot yet be determined. This will include some borrowers who are repaying and SLC will be passed details of their repayments after the end of their first tax year of repaying.
(4) Those whose earnings have fluctuated during the year and who have therefore made repayments in some months but have earnings below the threshold at the end of the financial year.
The income-contingent loan scheme is still relatively young; the first cohort of borrowers completing three year courses became liable to begin repaying in April 2002 if their income was above the repayment threshold. Therefore a higher proportion of borrowers are new graduates, who will be new to the labour market, than will be the case in steady state. The figures also reflect the time delay of up to 18 months between graduates starting to repay, and when information on the repayments they have made is available to SLC. This is because repayments are made through the tax system. HMRC receives an annual P14 return from employers, setting out the deductions they have made in the past year, and passes on this information to SLC to update borrowers' accounts. Despite the inevitable time lags, collecting student loans through the tax system remains the most efficient and cost-effective method.
The vast majority of income-contingent borrowers who are not repaying (84 per cent. of those not repaying) earn below the £15,000 threshold and are not therefore required to make any repayments. Repayments for a further 16 per cent. have not yet started because details are still being matched with employer's records or other information that is being collected.
Borrowers living overseas who have not yet repaid the amount they were scheduled to repay represent 0.04 per cent. of income-contingent borrowers covered in the table and 0.1 per cent. of those not repaying. The Student Loans Company has arrangements in place for repayments to be scheduled from borrowers living overseas and these borrowers are made aware of the methods of repayment available to them. Effective collection across the EU is underpinned by EC regulation 44/2001, which allows the SLC to obtain judgements in UK courts, which can be enforced by courts in other EU countries.
|Mortgage-style loan borrowers March 2008( 1)|
|(1) Individual borrowers may be counted in more than one category if they have loan accounts in more than one status.|
(2) Borrowers with mortgage-style loans who have income below the repayment threshold are entitled to apply for deferment of repayment for one year at a time.
Of those borrowers who have received mortgage-style loans since their introduction in 1990, 56 per cent. have fully replaced and a further 8 per cent. have had their loans cancelled or written-off for reasons such as age, death, or becoming disabled and permanently unable to work. Around 23 per cent. are currently deferring or have arrears. Mortgage-style loans were replaced by income-contingent loans from 1998.
Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the Governments policy is on permitting medical students with a first degree from a UK institution to defer payment of up-front tuition fees. 
Bill Rammell: Fee support has always been restricted for people who have already had a chance to experience higher education. Students with an honours degree from a UK institution are not eligible for tuition fee loans for a second undergraduate degree. For medical students who have already achieved a first degree, the position has not changed. The student support arrangements are designed to support one opportunity to take a full-time course of higher education.
However, graduate medical students are eligible for loans for living costs and supplementary grants for the second undergraduate degree, because of a special dispensation for students studying for a professional qualification.
The Department of Health supports medical students on the full undergraduate course in years 5 and 6. For graduates on the four-year accelerated courses these students have their fees paid and receive means-tested bursaries for years 2 to 4 of the accelerated course.
Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many and what percentage of students began undergraduate courses in England on fees varied from the statutory permissible maximum in each year since the introduction of the Higher Education Act 2003. 
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