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Aimhigher Programme

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what percentage of students who attended Aimhigher courses, events or workshops subsequently enrolled in a university in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06; (268784)

(2) how many 16 to 18-year-olds who attended Aimhigher courses subsequently enrolled in a university in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06;

(3) how the effectiveness of the Aimhigher programme in encouraging school students into higher education is measured;

(4) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Aimhigher programme.

Aimhigher is making a significant contribution towards raising the aspirations of young people towards university, and their pre-entry attainment levels. Over 50 per cent. of young people from all social backgrounds now aspire to university.

It is not possible at a national level to identify young people entering university who previously participated in Aimhigher activities.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to work with partnerships on the collection of consistent and coherent local data so that the impact of the programme can better be assessed. We expect the results from a separate study of early Excellence Challenge participants into higher education to be available later in the spring. This will give us the first information to date on the impact of Aimhigher on entry to university.

Evaluation of Aimhigher's predecessors showed, for example, that after just 18 months of the Excellence Challenge programme:

pupils in schools with Excellence Challenge improved by 2.5 GCSE points compared to those in comparison schools;

there was a significant improvement in the proportion of young people in Excellence Challenge schools attaining levels 4, 5 or 6 in the key stage 3 tests between 2001/02 and 2002/03: it is estimated that Excellence Challenge led to a 4.6 percentage point increase in Maths attainment at key stage 3; and

aspirations to HE were 3.9 percentage points higher in Excellence Challenge schools than in non-Excellence Challenge schools.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many sixth form students attended Aimhigher courses, events or workshops in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06. (268785)

This information is not available at a national level. The report ‘Aimhigher summer schools: Analysis of provision and participation in summer schools 2004-2008’ (Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), 2009) says that, during the five years from 2003-04 to 2007-08, the Aimhigher summer school programme funded over 1,350 summer schools which helped 41,000 young people. Nine out of 10 school participants in summer schools were from school years 10 and 11, with the remainder mainly drawn from school year 12.

The Department is currently working with HEFCE to develop a new web based database that will record Aimhigher participants and activities, and this will be trialled shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) what the budget for the Aimhigher programme was in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06; (268789)

(2) how much was spent on all programmes to encourage and widen participation in higher education in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06;

(3) what the advertising budget was for Aimhigher programmes in (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06.

The budget for Aimhigher in the years 2005-06 to 2007-08 was as follows:

Aimhigher1 budget (£ million)

2005-06

102

2006-07

87

2007-08

80

1 Aimhigher is funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Learning and Skills Council and the Department for Health. The budgets include funding for the Aimhigher Associates programme.

The amount spent on all programmes to encourage and widen participation in higher education in the years 2005-06 to 2007-08 was as follows:

£ million to nearest whole number

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Aimhigher and predecessors1,2

102

87

80

Student support3

1,411

1,634

1,962

Widening participation allocation4

284

345

356

University bursaries and outreach

116

192

Total

1,797

2,182

2,590

1 The unified Aimhigher programme was introduced in 2004. Predecessor programmes were Excellence Challenge, funded by the then Department for Education and Skills, and Partnerships for Progression, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Aimhigher is funded jointly by DIUS, HEFCE, the LSC and the Department for Health.

2 The figures include, annually, £47.9 million from the Department, and £29 million from HEFCE.

3 All student support figures are for English domiciled students.

4 These figures also include the allocations for improving the retention of non traditional students, and to widen access and improve provision for disabled students.

There is no specific budget for the advertising of Aimhigher programmes. The majority of the Aimhigher budget is allocated to Aimhigher partnerships of schools, colleges and universities. Partnerships draw up plans setting out their vision and strategic priorities, their strategic objectives for the year, including indicators of success and timescales, and their evaluation plans. Information on advertising is not collected nationally.