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Higher Education

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what evidence his Department assessed on the deterrent effect of debt on potential students from lower socio-economic groups when drawing up the proposals in the policy document, The Future of Higher Education; and if he will make a statement. [98131]

The Department considered a range of evidence including its own commissioned research into "Social Class and HE: Issues Affecting Decisions on Participation by Lower Social Class Groups" (published 2001), the HE extension of the Youth Cohort Study (still in progress) and preliminary results from its evaluation of the Excellence Challenge. The findings suggest that concern about debt is only one of the inhibitors on HE participation. Cultural, social and institutional influences and educational background are also important. The right kind of information is vital. Recent departmental research suggests also that the most common cause of non-completion of HE courses is poor choice of course rather than financial problems associated with participation.In the light of this evidence we are introducing the measures set out in the White Paper, The Future of Higher Education, notably means tested higher education grants of up to £1,000 per year and raising the loan repayment threshold from £10,000 to £15,000 from April 2005, but also the abolition of upfront tuition fees which were perceived as inhibiting access. In addition we are committed to improving our promotion, marketing and outreach to convince those from low income backgrounds that HE really is for them. We must also continue with our school reforms, particularly now at secondary level, to increase the number of young people with the right qualifications to benefit from higher education.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the average amount of Government support towards living costs per student for each university and higher education institution in each year since 1980. [94708]

The information requested is not available in the format requested. However, information on average maintenance grant per student is available nationally for England and Wales and is shown in the table.

Average maintenance grant in England and Wales1
Cash termsIn real terms 2000–012
Academic YearStudent support scheme students3,4Mandatory award scheme students4,5Student support scheme students3,4Mandatory award scheme students4,5
1 Payable to students normally domiciled in LEAs in England and Wales.
2 Expenditure shown in 2000–01 prices based on the RPI (excluding mortgage interest payments) of September each academic year.
3 Students starting their course in 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01 under the student support scheme funding.
4 Average maintenance figures have been rounded to the nearest £10.
5 Students who entered higher education up to 1997–98 and those who entered in 1998–99 to whom the mandatory scheme funding arrangements still applied.
6 Student loans were introduced when student support arrangements were changed in 1990–91 to supplement maintenance grants which were frozen at their level in that year. Data in this table exclude student loans and relate to maintenance grants only.
7 Not applicable
8 Includes an estimated 8.600 students and £17.5 million maintenance expenditure in respect of the London Residual Body.
9 Up until academic year 1984–85 all eligible mandatory scheme students were entitled to receive a minimum cash grant (£205 in 1984–85; £410 in 1981–82 to 1983–84; and £385 in 1980–81).


F503G Survey of local education authorities on student support funding.

Additionally, loan support has been available to eligible students normally domiciled in the United Kingdom since 1990–91 and information on the average amount of student loan is given in the table. However, because the rules for eligibility between maintenance grants and loans differ, and because the average maintenance data refer to students domiciled in England and Wales, whereas the average loans data refer to students domiciled in the United Kingdom, the two sets of data should not be added together.

Student support provision—average loan: United Kingdom—academic years 1990–91 to 2001–02



Average loan (United Kingdom)


Cash terms

In real terms 2001–02


Academic year


Student support scheme students

Mandatory award scheme Students

student support scheme students

Mandatory award scheme students




12001–02 data are provisional.

2 Student loans are available to eligible students normally domiciled in the United Kingdom.

3 Student loans are available to students on full-time undergraduate HE courses (and students on full-time and part-time postgraduate courses of initial teacher training). From 1999–2000, students aged between 50 to 54 at the start of their course (this includes students who started their course after September 1998) can apply for a student loan as long as they can demonstrate to their awarding authority that they plan to return to employment after finishing their course.

4 Average figures have been rounded to the nearest £10.

5 Expenditure shown in 2001–02 prices based on the RPI (excluding mortgage interest payments of September each academic year).

6 The time series of this table is different to that shown for average maintenance because student loans were not introduced until 1990–91, and provisional data are available for 2001–02

7 The drop in the average loan is explained by final year students of a three year course entering the figures for the first time; these students are eligible for a lower rate of loan.

8 Not applicable


The Student Loans Company