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2 Apr 2009 : Column 1326W—continued

Further Education: Finance

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much was allocated for the redevelopment of further education colleges in each constituency between 1999 and 2009. [261405]

Mr. Simon: Since 1997 more than £2 billion has been invested in modernising FE facilities and we will spend another £2.3 billion in the current spending review period.

Capital funding for further education colleges is administrated by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). The LSC Acting Chief Executive, Mr. Geoff Russell will write to the hon. Member with the further information requested. A copy of his letter will be placed in the House Libraries.

Further Education: Overseas Students

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of non-EU nationals who completed further education courses in England in the last five years. [261832]

Mr. Simon: The table shows the number of learners whose country of domicile is any one of the countries who are currently not members of the European Union (EU), achieving at least one qualification aim.


2 Apr 2009 : Column 1327W
Number of non-EU learners achieving at least one qualification aim, 2003/04 to 2007/08
Academic year Number of learners achieving

2003/04

38,000

2004/05

32,000

2005/06

28,000

2006/07

25,000

2007/08

25,000

Notes:
1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.
2. Numbers include FE and Ufl data only.
3. Data include both LSC funded and non-funded learners.
4. Non-EU learners are learners whose country of domicile is any of the countries who are not currently members of the European Union (EU).
5. This information is based on country of domicile—institutions are advised that the country of domicile should be treated as a self-assessment field and reflect the country where the learner was ordinarily resident for the three years preceding the start of their programme.
Source:
Individualised Learner Record (ILR)

Higher Education: Disadvantaged

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans his Department has to encourage higher education institutions to admit students from non-traditional backgrounds; and what consideration he has given to the merits of changing the funding system so that universities do not perceive a financial risk by recruiting such students. [268614]

Mr. Lammy: This Government are fully committed to ensuring every young person has a fair chance of attending university. And we are making progress with the proportion of young entrants from lower socio economic groups going to university increasing steadily, reaching almost 30 per cent. in 2007.

But we should and can do more. As part of the New Opportunities White Paper, we announced further measures to ensure every young person from a low income background, who could benefit from going to university, is given the opportunity to do so. This includes a group of 11 research intensive universities working together to look at ways to reach out to talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is in no-one’s interest for universities to recruit students who cannot benefit from higher education. The widening participation allocation is a contribution towards the additional costs of recruiting and retaining students from non-traditional backgrounds. The amount set aside for the allocation, and the funding method by which each institution’s allocation is calculated, are matters for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Higher Education: Finance

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what contribution the Government has made to the Access to Learning Fund in each of the last three years. [267122]

Mr. Lammy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 4 February 2009, Official Report , column 1306W, to the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams).


2 Apr 2009 : Column 1328W

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent estimate he has made of the number of higher education institutions that will be required to repay funds to the Higher Education and Funding Council for England resulting from overpayments based on the mis-reporting of student completion rates. [268620]

Mr. Lammy: Almost all of HEFCE’s recurrent funding for institutions are allocated by formula and informed by data that higher and further education institutions provide on their student numbers and measures of research activity. HEFCE’s rules about only counting the activity that students complete in its funding allocations are clear. Where it is found, either through reconciliations with other data or any data audit, that erroneous data has resulted in institutions receiving incorrect funding allocations, then HEFCE adjust their funding accordingly (subject, where appropriate, to an appeals process).

As with any other public sector body, HEFCE’s audits are a routine way of ensuring accountability for, and the proper use of, public funds. HEFCE carries out student data audits of the universities and colleges it funds over a five-year cycle. In 2008 it audited 26 HEIs relating to their 2007-08 HESES data. Where it finds that institutions have over-claimed funding, HEFCE has a duty to recover it. So far, these data audits have resulted in confirmed funding adjustments to funding for four institutions, as a result of incorrect reporting of non-completions.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the suitability of the funding process for universities which are involved in initiatives to widen participation in higher education. [268621]

Mr. Lammy: The Higher Education Funding Council for England assists universities with the additional costs of recruiting students from non-traditional backgrounds. The funding is calculated in such a way as to reflect the students from non-traditional backgrounds that an institution has already recruited. It is paid to institutions as part of their teaching and learning budget, and it is not ring-fenced for any specific activities.

An assessment of its effectiveness is a matter for the Funding Council, however, a 2006 assessment made by the Funding Council found that evidence for the impact of the allocation on institutional behaviour was strong, and that there was persuasive evidence of the effectiveness of specific institutional interventions.

The first Widening Participation Strategic Assessments (WPSAs) will be submitted by higher education institutions to the Funding Council by the end of June. The assessment will contain detailed information about the university's progress in widening participation through information about: the full range of the institution's widening participation activity at an appropriately aggregated level; the detailed targets and milestones set by the university; and the level of resource committed to widening participation, including, but not limited to, the Funding Council's widening participation allocation and the spending on outreach and bursaries covered by access agreements. Universities also receive funding through the Aimhigher initiative.


2 Apr 2009 : Column 1329W

Evaluation of predecessor programmes shows that they have a significant impact on the aspirations of young people towards university, and their pre-entry attainment levels.

London Metropolitan University

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many people from Islington North constituency are enrolled on a course at London Metropolitan University. [268618]

Mr. Lammy: Latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that 675 people from Islington North parliamentary constituency enrolled on a course at London Metropolitan University in the 2007-08 academic year(1). This figure covers enrolments to all levels and modes of study.

Figures for the 2008-09 academic year will be available in January 2010.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the financial situation at London Metropolitan University. [268619]

Mr. Lammy: The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is responsible for monitoring the financial health of those higher education institutions it funds through an accountability framework. This framework includes an annual process which assesses the financial health and risks facing all institutions. At the same time, HEFCE undertakes data audit work which at London Metropolitan University has found that £36.5 million of funding was incorrectly claimed over a three year period. All of this money is being repaid by the university over an agreed five year repayment period.

Nuclear Engineering: Higher Education

Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the Answer of 10 February 2009, Official Report, column 1902W, on engineering: higher education, how many (a) masters level students and (b) doctoral students received funding for nuclear engineering courses in each of the last five years. [267001]

Mr. Lammy: Data at the level of detail requested by this question are not collected centrally. The following table sets out the overall numbers of chemical, process and energy engineering students at English higher education institutions over the last five years which would include nuclear engineering students.

Academic year Masters Doctorates

2003/04

935

605

2004/05

865

645

2005/06

870

630

2006/07

920

665

2007/08

725

865

Notes:
1. Figures are based on a HESA standard registration population and have been rounded to the nearest five.
2. Covers enrolments of all domiciles to both full-time and part-time courses.
3. Excludes the Open University due to inconsistencies in their coding of subject over the time series.
Source:
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

2 Apr 2009 : Column 1330W

Science: Research

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the adequacy of levels of research funding for science subjects in (a) Russell Group universities and (b) other universities in 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. [268355]

Mr. Lammy: Government funding for research in science and other subjects is now at record levels, with DIUS funding set to reach almost £6 billion by 2010/11. Research funding for universities is allocated on the basis of excellence—through the RAE in the case of the HEFCE Quality Related (QR) block grant, and through peer review of projects in the case of Research Councils. In relation to the recent HEFCE block grant allocation, HEFCE have safeguarded the proportion of funding going to Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

Students: Loans

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much was refunded to account holders by the Student Loans Company in respect of overpayments made at the end of the loan period in each financial year for which figures are available. [267867]

Mr. Lammy: As there is a time lag between student loan deductions being made and the Student Loan Company (SLC) receiving information from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), it is possible for people to overpay before the SLC becomes aware that their repayments should stop. Because of this, borrowers are advised to monitor their own repayments so they know when they are likely to come to the end of repaying their loan. If they do not, they could overpay.

The information requested is set out in the following table; the figures relate to income contingent student loans.

Financial year £

1998-99

11

1999-2000

5,312

2000-01

17,976

2001-02

130,141

2002-03

553,580

2003-04

2,047,526

2004-05

5,321,628

2005-06

8,266,570

2006-07

9,669,298

2007-08

15,290,287

Total refunded

41,302,329


The SLC is exploring a number of measures to help customers avoid overpayment, including giving them the option to make final repayments outside the tax system, via direct debit, to ensure they do not overpay. The SLC has also introduced new guidance and tools, including an on-line calculator, to help customers work out their loan balance, and therefore when they are likely to repay their loan in full.


2 Apr 2009 : Column 1331W

Training: Defence

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will meet the Secretary of State for Defence to discuss potential European funding for the Defence Training Review project. [263934]

Mr. Simon: The Defence Training Review project is being led by the Ministry of Defence who have published the anticipated timeline till 2015 on their website:

Questions surrounding the funding of this project should be directed to my right. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. We will of course consider any request from him for a meeting to discuss any role for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills with respect to the Defence Training Review project.

Vocational Training

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford of 17 March 2009, Official Report, columns 10-12W, on vocational training, how many businesses in (a) each region and (b) each London borough have signed the Skills Pledge. [266578]

Mr. Simon: The Skills Pledge is a voluntary, public commitment by employers to support their employees to develop their basic skills, including literacy and numeracy, and work towards relevant, valuable qualifications to at least Level 2 (equivalent to five good GCSEs).

Since the launch of the Skills Pledge in June 2007 we have made excellent progress. The table, taken from the latest available figures, January 2009, show the number of organisations that have made the Skills Pledge in each region. Please note that these figures include both public and private organisations.

Skills Pledge information is not identifiable by London borough.

Number of organisations to have made the Skills Pledge in each region
Geographical region Number of pledges

East Midlands

1,281

East of England

829

London

2,594

North East

157

North West

1,849

South East

1,735

South West

868

West Midlands

2,206

Yorks and Humberside

1,272

Total

12,791


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