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Higher Education: Finance

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what assessment he has made of the impact that the phasing out of funding for students taking equivalent or lower qualifications at university from 2008-09 will have on the delivery of the objectives of the Leitch review of skills; (162627)

(2) what assessment he has made of the impact that phasing out funding for students taking equivalent or lower qualifications at university from 2008-09 will have on institutions with a high proportion of part-time and mature learners;

(3) which organisations were consulted prior to the decision being made to phase out funding for students taking equivalent or lower qualifications at university from 2008-09; and when each was consulted.

We are not cutting funding from higher education. We took this decision as part of the comprehensive spending review in order to target resources on our top priorities and the country's long term needs. While the policy has been set, we have asked HEFCE to consult widely on how it should be implemented. Our policy not only responds to the challenge in the Leitch report to increase the proportion of the work force with higher level skills from under 30 per cent. now to over 40 per cent. by 2020 but is also fairer to both taxpayers and students who have not yet entered higher education. Many of those in the work force without higher level skills may be mature learners who wish to study part-time. The overall effect of these changes on the income of individual institutions will depend on how successful they are in attracting students who meet our priorities. Every institution will have an incentive to maximise its share of the £100 million which will be redistributed through this change.