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Aimhigher Initiative

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department spent on the Aimhigher Initiative in each year since 2004. (186613)

Available expenditure for the Aimhigher programme for each year since 2004 to date is:

Expenditure for Aimhigher programme (£ million)

2004-05

136

2005-06

102

2006-07

87

2007-08

80

Aimhigher remains a central part of the Government's plans to widen participation in higher education (HE), and we have been happy to support it for a further period, to 2011.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the cost was of the Aimhigher programme in each year since its inception. (172276)

Since the launch of Aimhigher in 2004, expenditure to help to students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education has increased considerably.

£ million

2004-051

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Aimhigher2

136

102

87

80

Student support3

1,117

1,333

1,558

1,831

Widening participation allocation

273

284

345

354

Total

1,526

1,719

1,990

2,265

1 The unified Aimhigher programme commenced in August 2004. The amount shown includes the cost of predecessor programmes (Excellence Challenge and Partnerships for Progression) for the period April to July 2004. 2 The amounts shown include contributions from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Learning and Skills Council and the Department for Health. 3 Includes student loans RAB charge, fee loans, and student support grants. The Student loans RAB charge estimates the future cost to government of subsidising and writing off the student loans issued in that year; it does not represent the amount of cash lent to students, which has risen each year since the introduction of student loans.

In addition, the Office for Fair Access forecasts that around £300 million annually will be spent by higher education providers on bursaries and scholarships benefiting students from low-income and other underrepresented groups by the academic year 2008-09. Following passage of the Higher Education Act 2004, the Government decided to reduce the budget for Aimhigher to take account of the additional funding which was made available to support widening participation through alternative routes such as the large increases in student support.

We have reformed student finance, reintroducing grants and raising the income threshold at which repayments start. No-one is required to pay a contribution to their higher education up-front. These reforms, together with Aimhigher, have been instrumental in bringing about progress towards widening participation. The proportion of UK domiciled, young, full time, first degree entrants to English higher education institutions who were from lower socio economic groups rose from 27.9 per cent. in 2002-03 to 29.1 per cent. in 2005-06.