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Ms Jenny Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) how many students enrolled in their first year at universities in England for the academic years (a) 1996-97 and (b) 1998-99; [100247]

Mr. Wicks: The available information is shown in the following table.

Full-time first degree students in higher education institutions in England

Academic yearStudents in their first year of studyStudents in their second year of study

(15) Data for 1999-2000 will not be available until April 2000.

These figures cannot be used to calculate non- completion rates directly. Some students switch from full-time to part-time study, while others suspend studies for a year but return to qualify later. In addition the available figures will include those who are repeating the first year of their course and those who fail their first year examinations.

The latest information on non-completion rates published by the Department relates to students beginning full-time and sandwich first degree courses in 1995-96, and shows that between 18-19 per cent. of these students failed to complete their course, a low figure compared to other countries. ("Non-completion" covers students who leave their course for various reasons, over the duration of their course.)Information on student progression for individual higher education institutions in the UK will be published on 3 December, in the Higher Education Funding Council for England's "Higher Education

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Performance Indicators". These calculations take into account the wider variety of patterns of attendance of students, including factors such as changing courses or institutions and repeating or intermitting years of study.

Class Sizes

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many classes of 30 and over for five to seven year olds were recorded for schools in Shropshire in (a) May 1997 and (b) the latest available date; and if he will make a statement. [100592]

Ms Estelle Morris: Figures relating to the size of Key Stage 1 classes are collected in January, and (from 1998) also in September. In January 1997, there were 109 Key Stage 1 classes in Shropshire LEA taught by one teacher with 31 or more pupils. In April 1998, following local government reorganisation, Shropshire LEA split into two: Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin LEAs. In January 1999, there was a combined total of 51 such classes in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. The corresponding figure for September 1999 was 10.

Architecture Students

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will issue guidance to local authorities on advising architecture students to apply for funding for their entire course at the start of the course. [100629]

Mr. Wicks: Local education authorities recognise the distinctive two-part structure of the architecture course and the need to encourage eligible students to apply at the outset for support for all years of the course. Where students do not apply immediately, they can make a later application for support for Part II of the architecture course. LEAs have discretion to continue their eligibility for support for the whole of the course at any time before they complete Part 1. Nevertheless, we shall consider the case for additional guidance for the next academic year.

Teaching Vacancies (Bolton)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many teaching vacancies there are in (a) maintained schools and (b) colleges of further education in the Bolton Local Authority area; and into which categories of subject the vacancies fall. [100606]

Ms Estelle Morris: There were two vacancies for full-time teachers in the maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special school sector in the Bolton local authority area in January 1999. Both posts were for classroom teachers in secondary schools, one in physics and the other in modern foreign languages.

Information on the number of teaching vacancies in colleges of further education in the Bolton local authority area is not held centrally.

Commonwealth Students

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many Commonwealth students are studying in the United Kingdom; and which countries have received financial help from his Department in relation to them. [100767]

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Mr. Wicks: The number of Commonwealth students studying in the UK in the 1997-98 academic year, the latest for which figures are available, were:

Higher educationFurther education

This Department offers scholarships through the Montserrat Emergency Award Scheme, established in 1998-99, to students from Montserrat wishing to study in higher education in the UK who left Montserrat as a direct result of the volcanic activity.

There are also two schemes open solely to applicants from the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, funded jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Shared Scholarship Scheme, funded by the DfID. Commonwealth students may also apply for Government funded scholarships which are open to all international students, including the British Chevening Scholarships Scheme, funded by the FCO and the Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme, funded by this Department.

Adult Education

Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) what arrangements he will put in place to ensure that local authorities' adult education services are funded by the local authorities in 2001 at or above the level of the relevant standard spending assessment sub-category; [100602]

Mr. Wicks: In "Learning to Succeed" we set out our intention to give the proposed Learning and Skills Council (LSC) responsibility for adult and community learning from April 2001. We made clear that provided local authorities meet the requirements to prepare and implement effective lifelong learning development plans they can expect to receive from the LSC a substantial part of its resource for adult and community learning.

Following consideration of the comments received on our proposals we will be announcing shortly more detail of our plans for establishing the LSC, including arrangements for funding adult and community education through that body rather than local authorities.

Information on local education authority expenditure, including that on adult education, will be available in the new year.

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EU Education Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what was the outcome of the Education Council held in Brussels on 26 November; and if he will make a statement. [100829]

Mr. Wills: The Council of EC Education Ministers, at which I represented the UK, adopted a resolution on

Ministers then held an open debate on the role of education and vocational training in the new millennium.

The Council received information from the Presidency on the outcome of conciliation with the European Parliament on the proposal for a second phase of the Socrates education action programme. Information was received from the European Commission on: the proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council to establish the European Year of Languages 2001; forthcoming proposals for European Parliament and Council Recommendations on the mobility of students, young trainees, young volunteers, teachers and trainers and on European co-operation in the evaluation of the quality of school education; the role of education and training in implementing the Stability Pact for South-East Europe; the implementation of the Council resolution of 6 May 1996 on educational multimedia in the fields of education and training; and indicators and benchmarks in the field of school quality.

Ministers received a report from the European Schools High Council on the future of the European Schools and held an exchange of views. The Council also received information from the Portuguese delegation on plans for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council.

A copy of the Council minutes will be placed in the Library in due course.

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