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Examination Papers (Marking)

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what information his Department collates on the average time taken and payment made for marking (a) GCSE examination and (b) A-level examination papers. [26393]

Dr. Howells: Data are not collected centrally on the time taken to mark GCSE and GCE A-level examinations. The marking timetable is determined by the need to notify candidates of their results in August each year.

The Department does not collate information on the average payment made for marking. However in 1997, the average fees charged by awarding bodies in respect of GCSE and GCE A-level examination entries were

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£16 and £29 respectively. These fees include payment to the awarding bodies for the marking of examination papers.

Correspondence

Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when he will be sending a substantive reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam dated 27 June 1997 concerning the Astra Group Pension Scheme. [24665]

Dr. Howells: Department for Education and Employment officials are seeking a speedy resolution to the ex-Astra issues, but are still working on the "package" of measures potentially to assist ex-employees of the Department who transferred to Astra. Negotiations also

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involve other Departments--including HM Treasury and the Government Actuary's Department--and due partly to the legal complexities involved, these have been protracted.

The precise nature of the package should be agreed soon, and this Department will be contacting the appropriate former employees with details as soon as it is able. The hon. Member will also be informed.

Training (Voluntary Sector)

Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the contribution of the voluntary sector to training provision for people with learning disabilities. [24857]

Dr. Howells: There has been no central assessment of the voluntary sector's contribution to training people with learning disabilities.

Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) are responsible for delivering publicly funded, high quality training programmes, which include provision for people with learning disabilities. It is for TECs to contract appropriately with local providers. The Department and TECs value highly the contribution of the voluntary sector in helping people with learning disabilities take full advantage of training opportunities.

Student Fees

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what percentage of college fees have been paid in accordance with his Department's deadlines by each local education authority in each of the last three years; [24861]

Dr. Howells: The Department's guidance to local education authorities is that they should:



The Department does not routinely monitor LEAs' performance against these targets. Some information on mandatory awards is available from the Audit Commission's yearly reports on 'Local Authority Performance Indicators': these include an indicator for the percentage of new mandatory awards paid by each LEA by 10 October each year. Copies of the reports are in the Library.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many inquiries from students and parents concerning student maintenance and fees awards were received by local education authorities in each of the last three years. [24860]

Dr. Howells: This information is not collected centrally.

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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assessment he has made of the resources required by the Student Support Agency to meet the volume of inquiries currently managed by local education authorities and to deal with them to the same standards. [24859]

Dr. Howells: We have had a preliminary look at this but we have made no detailed assessment of the resources required by a student support agency to meet the volume of inquiries currently managed by local education authorities and to deal with them to the same standards.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) on 22 January 1998, Official Report, column 700, in relation to the future arrangements for the administration of HE student support and to our planned review of options.

Further Education

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many complaints have been made to him under section 57 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992; what was the subject matter of the complaints; and what was the outcome. [24978]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend receives many representations about the activities of the governing bodies of further education colleges and they are followed up where it seems appropriate to do so. The Department does not maintain a register of all complaints.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what plans he has to amend the regulations concerning governing bodies of further education colleges; [24974]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State expects to announce his plans for the future constitution of governing bodies of further education colleges in the forthcoming White Paper on Lifelong Learning.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many governors have been removed from the governing bodies of further education colleges as a result of being found unfit to serve; and what were the reasons for these findings. [24977]

Dr. Howells: Decisions on whether a Member of a governing body is unfit are matters for the governing body. The Department does not collect such information.

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he proposes to exempt participants on further education teacher training courses from the payment of tuition fees. [24979]

Dr. Howells: The £1,000 tuition fee contribution to be introduced for new students in 1998-99 will not apply to students on courses of initial teacher training, including courses for further education teachers, other than students

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on a BEd, BA or BSc degree course. This reflects the importance which the Government attach to enhancing the quality of teaching and encouraging the effective training of teachers.

Special Education Provision

Mr. Martin Bell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if the Green Paper on special educational provision existed in draft form when he took office. [24980]

Ms Estelle Morris: No: the Green Paper drew on the Labour Party's consultation document, 'Every Child is Special', published in March 1997. The Green Paper was drafted in the period July to October last year, in consultation with the National Advisory Group on Special Educational Needs.

Class Sizes

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what progress has been made in reducing classroom sizes in Southend since 31 July. [25266]

Mr. Byers: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell) on 29 January 1998, Official Report, column 370.

Veterinary Students

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what estimate he has made of the proceeds which will be received by Her Majesty's Treasury as a result of the imposition of tuition fees on veterinary students under his proposals for the funding of higher education. [25513]

Dr. Howells: Under the new higher education funding system being introduced from 1998-99 universities and colleges will receive £1,000 for every home or EU full-time undergraduate new entrant--from the student and/or from the local authority depending on income assessed. We estimate that this will amount to around £130 million in England in 1998-99, after allowance has been made for costs of some 5 per cent. for collection and any default. This includes tuition fees for new veterinary undergraduates.

The Government have made it clear that the savings from the introduction of tuition fees would be used to improve quality, standards and opportunity for all in further and higher education. For 1998-99 we have announced an extra £165 million for higher education to spend, including a total of £129 million for higher education institutions.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many veterinary students are currently in receipt of (a) full and (b) part maintenance grants. [25518]

Dr. Howells: Information on the subject of study of award holders is not collected centrally.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to the letter of

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9 January from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), what estimate he has made of the extent of the deficit in veterinary graduates qualifying from United Kingdom veterinary schools. [25517]

Dr. Howells: Veterinary graduates are employed largely in private practice and the Government do not attempt to forecast demand for them or to estimate whether supply does or does not meet requirements. However, the increase in the numbers of overseas registrations as shown by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' registration statistics suggests that demand for veterinary graduates in the UK is not being met from UK registered graduates.

Registered Veterinary Graduates

YearUKCommonwealth, foreign and EUTotal
1995369469838
1996384531915

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is currently conducting a survey to gauge the needs of the profession in future years.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what research he has conducted into the manpower demand of the public sector for graduates in veterinary medicine. [25516]

Dr. Howells: Most veterinary graduates are in private practice. Neither this Department nor the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food conducts research into, or attempts to forecast, public sector demand for veterinary graduates. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons conducts periodic labour market research to gauge the needs of the profession.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the levels of indebtedness likely to be experienced by graduates and students of veterinary medicine as a result of his proposals for the funding of higher education; [25514]

Dr. Howells: The amount that a student of veterinary medicine will be able to borrow under the student loans scheme will depend on a variety of factors including the length of the course, the place of study, and the student's and his or her parents' or spouse's income. A student

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completing a five year course who began studying in 1999 and took out the full loan available each year might expect to have borrowed a total of between £13,205 and £17,255 in 1998 prices, depending on his or her individual, parental or spouse's income.

The level of monthly repayments that graduates will be expected to make will depend entirely on their incomes. In this respect the position of veterinary students will be no different from that of students of any other discipline. The Government have not, therefore, seen the need to commission specific research into the effects of their proposals on veterinary students.

The following table indicates in 1998 prices the contributions to fees and maintenance that parents would be expected to make, where their income was taken into account, for each year of a five year course outside London. Similar scales apply to spouses where appropriate. No parent or spouse will be expected to contribute more under the new arrangements to the cost of fees and maintenance combined than they would contribute to the cost of maintenance alone under the existing arrangements.

£
Income(22)Annual parental contribution to feesAnnual parental contribution to maintenanceMaximum loan available to student for full year
Low income003,545
Middle income1,00003,545
High income1,0008102,735

(22) The contribution parents are expected to make will depend, as now, on their residual income, rather than gross income. The total incomes to which the residual income figures correspond will vary according to individual circumstances. The residual income below which no contribution is expected ("low income") is £16,945: on average this might equate to a total income of around £23,000. The residual income at which parents will be expected to contribute the full £1,000 towards fees ("middle income") is £27,119, which on average might equate to a total income of around £35,000. The residual income at which the maximum contribution towards fees and maintenance is expected ("high income") is £34,068. Contributions between these points are on a sliding scale.


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