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Aimhigher Initiative: Finance

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department expects to spend on the Aim Higher Initiative in (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011; and if he will make a statement. (186614)

In our January 2008 Grant Letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), we confirmed annual funding of £47.9 million for the Aimhigher Programme for each of the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 financial years. Traditionally, HEFCE have supplemented this funding. In addition there is a health care strand which at £1.8 million per annum is jointly funded with the Department of Health. This means that, for the 2008/09 academic year, the total funding allocated to Aimhigher will be £78.0 million. Figures for 2009/10 and 2010/11 are still to be finalised.

The Aimhigher programme brings together universities, colleges and schools in partnership to raise the attainment levels of young people and their aspirations towards higher education. The programme provides opportunities and experiences for learners which helps to widen their horizons, develop talents, increase motivation and maximise potential.

HEFCE guidance on targeting disadvantaged learners, published in 2007, defined priority groups for Aimhigher to ensure utmost effectiveness. These groups are people from lower socio-economic groups; people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds who live in areas of relative deprivation where participation in HE is low; ‘looked after’ children in the care system; and people with a disability or a specific learning difficulty.

In this next phase of the programme, HEFCE is working with Aimhigher partnerships further to develop targeting of those with the talent and ability who might not consider that higher education is for them and provide a sequenced and challenging range of learning opportunities linked to a future in higher education.