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Student Finance

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been paid by students from (a) Shrewsbury and Atcham and (b) Shropshire in higher education tuition fees in each year since 1997; and what the average amount paid was in each case. [119386]

My Department does not collect student support data at the constituency level. Student support data on the levels of contribution to tuition are collected from Local Education Authorities (LEAs) through a voluntary survey. However, the data are only robust enough to be published at the national level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has for (a) a replacement graduate repayment scheme and (b) reintroduction of grants for disadvantaged students. [119621]

The White Paper "The Future of Higher Education" (Cm 5735) which was published in January 2003 sets out our plans for a Graduate Contribution Scheme in England. We plan to abolish up-front tuition fees from 2006/07 and to allow higher education institutions to charge variable fees, between £0 and £3000 per year per course. Institutions will only be able to charge higher fees if they have an access agreement approved by the Office for Fair Access. Graduates will repay their student loan through the Tax System, at a zero real rate of interest, once they are earning above the £15,000 repayment threshold. Monthly repayments will be linked to earnings.For those students from low income households starting full-time higher education from Autumn 2004, we will be introducing a new Higher Education Grant of up to £1,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what consultation he has held with (a) the Year Out Group and (b) other organisations furthering gap year arrangements for students; and what action he will take to mitigate potential turbulence in numbers arising from the introduction of approved top-up fees from 2006–07. [1197911]

No formal consultation has taken place with these groups. However, there has been written correspondence between my hon. Friend the former Minister of Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education and Lifelong Learning and the Chief Executive of the Year Out Group, Sir Richard Oliver, as well as representatives of the Engineering Development Trust, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Project Trust and Year In Industry. The Government does not intend to take any action to regulate student numbers in advance of the introduction of variable fees in 2006/07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he intends to provide that any approved top-up fees chargeable under the proposals in the Future of Higher Education (Cm 5735) should be fully covered by additional student loans. [119792]

The White Paper "The Future of Higher Education" (Cm 5735) which was published in January 2003 sets out our plans for a Graduate Contribution Scheme in England. We plan to abolish up-front tuition fees from 2006/07 and to allow higher education institutions to charge variable fees, between £0 and £3000 per year per course. Institutions will only be able to raise their fees if they have an access agreement approved by the Office for Fair Access. Student loans will be available to cover in full the variable fee so that every student will be able to defer payment of their fee until after their graduation, if they choose to do so. Graduates will repay the loan at a zero real rate of interest, with repayments linked to earnings, once they are earning above the £15,000 repayment threshold.