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Graduates: Higher Education

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) if he will commission an assessment of the benefits to (a) individual students, (b) businesses and (c) the economy of graduates completing second degrees; and if he will make a statement; (150819)

(2) what advice is provided to graduates on the (a) merits and (b) mechanics of pursuing a second degree; and whether guidance is available on the choice of subject.

We have asked HEFCE to phase out the support it gives to institutions for students doing a second degree at an equivalent or lower level in order to redistribute around £100 million a year by 2010/11 towards our priorities. While there may be some benefit to individuals, and their employers, in them retraining for a second qualification at the same level, it is generally fairer to both students and the taxpayer to give priority to those either entering higher education for the first time, or progressing to higher qualifications. All of the £100 million will be redistributed to support our priorities, including the challenges posed by Sandy Leitch around the proportion of the work force with graduate level skills from under 30 per cent. to over 40 per cent. by 2020. At the same time, we also published details of these changes and the rationale for them so that prospective students both with and without existing Higher Education qualifications can plan ahead in the knowledge of our priorities.