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Higher Education: Disadvantaged

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what recent assessment he has given to the merits of the provision of further and higher education institutions in all areas as a means of widening participation among non-traditional groups. (268615)

We are committed to improving choice and reducing barriers to ensure that there is fair access for all to the learning opportunities available. Further education operates across society, having a real impact on businesses, young people and adults, including those from disadvantaged and minority communities. In 2007-08, over 2.6 million people were participating in learning at a FE college.

This Government are fully committed to ensuring every young person has a fair chance of attending university. And we are making progress with the proportion of young entrants from lower socio-economic groups going to university increasing steadily, reaching almost 30 per cent. in 2007. A New University Challenge, with an investment of up to £200 million, will establish new campuses, particularly in areas with no history of provision, and provide places for 10,000 extra students.

In January 2009, the New Opportunities White Paper announced a wide-ranging package of investment and support from across Government for people to make the most of their potential throughout their lives giving them lifelong chances to succeed.