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Higher Education

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what action he intends to take to implement the Dearing Committee's recommendations on governing bodies in higher education; and if he will make a statement. [14061]

We are considering the responses to the consultation exercise undertaken following publication of the report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, including the views received on the recommendations on governing bodies in higher education, and will announce our response later in the year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of 16 to 19-year-olds in Warrington, North constituency, broken down by ward, entered higher education in (a) 1996–97 and (b) in each of the last five years. [14060]

The information requested is not compiled centrally because, although the HESA data include the post code of each student, this is not routinely aggregated to below local authority level. The available HESA data show the number of students aged under 20 whose home LEA was Cheshire and who entered a higher education course in a UK higher education establishment (Warrington comprises around 19 per cent. of Cheshire in general population terms). The figures were 3,400 in 1994–95, 3,900 in 1995–96 and 4,300 in 1996–97. Comparable data for the years prior to 1994–95 are not readily available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he intends to take to encourage higher education funding bodies to finance pilot projects which allocate additional funds to institutions which enrol students from particularly disadvantaged localities; and if he will make a statement. [14059]

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will follow the recommendations of the Dearing report in respect of allocating funds for higher education to those institutions committed to widening participation; and what support he plans to offer to those universities to help plan and monitor admissions and participation levels. [14359]

The Government are committed to increasing and widening access to higher education. My hon. Friend recently announced an extra £165 million for higher education in 1998–99, which includes a £36 million access package, which will benefit part-time students and those facing particular hardship, as well as an extra £4 million to enable more students to participate in higher education.We welcome the recommendations of the Dearing report for widening access, in particular that additional funding for university places should be targeted at those institutions which put forward plans for widening access. We shall be following up these recommendations in the light of the responses to the consultation on the Dearing report.In the meantime, we welcome the decision by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to reconvene its Advisory Group on Access and Participation. The group will be considering the possibilities for further action, including the specific actions proposed by the Dearing Committee, and will advise the Council on its access and participation strategies, including joint activity with the Further Education Funding Council and other partners.