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Student Finance

Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to introduce a lower maximum annual top-up fee for part-time higher education courses. [105309]

There is no fixed fee for part-time higher education. Unlike the position for full time provision, higher education providers are free to set the fees for part-time higher education at a level they choose. We announced in the White Paper "The future of higher education" that we would improve the package of support for part time students by introducing a new fee support grant for those whose income is below certain thresholds, and who are studying courses that are at least half-time. Full details of the package will be announced later in the year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he will publish the funding implications for his Department of devolved administrations not using top up fees in their universities to fund higher education. [107566]

The implications for the funding of institutions if variable fees are not used are a matter for the devolved nations. The devolved administrations for Scotland and Northern Ireland have responsibility for student support. This Department is currently responsible for student support for higher education students in England and Wales. Whilst this remains the case, the funding implications for both administrations of deferring variable fees will be taken into account when providing funding for students in England and Wales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will publish the comparative cost analysis showing the differences between using (a) a top up fees system and (b) a graduate tax to fund future higher education before the end of the formal consultation period for the White Paper. [107568]

I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly) on 3 April 2003, Official Report, columns 815–17W.