Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer of 5 March 2001, Official Report, column 3W, on Shakespeare, what plans he has for the examining at GCSE of the required study of Shakespeare and the other literary figures referred to in his answer. 
Mr. Wicks: Currently there are two GCSE examinations: GCSE English--which covers the full National Curriculum programme of study in English, including the literature requirements--and GCSE English Literature which ranges more widely. The proposal to review the GCSE in English arose from a review of examination standards over time commissioned and published by the previous administration. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has been consulting widely on how to take forward recommendations from the SCAA/Ofsted report "Standards in Public Examinations 1975 to 1995"
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published in December 1996. We have insisted that the proportion of Shakespeare and other major figures from British literature covered in any proposals for a new English examination should not be diminished.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent discussions he has had with officials of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on standards in education in the UK. 
Mr. Wicks: My noble Friend the Minister for Education and Employment attended the meeting of OECD Education Ministers on 3 and 4 of April to review the OECD's work over the last five years and agree its forward work programme for the next five years. My Department will continue to co-operate closely with OECD in securing lifelong learning for all to meet the new skill demands of the knowledge economy; and in developing innovative teaching and learning to address the challenges for tomorrow's school systems.
Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of students on veterinary courses are from (a) state schools and (b) state schools in the north of England; and what the breakdown is in each of the veterinary colleges. 
|Institutions in the UK
|Autumn 2000 entry
|Previous educational establishment
|in the north of England(16)
|from other regions of the UK
|Total maintained schools
(15) Includes comprehensive, grammar, sixth form centres, other secondary and former grant-maintained schools
(16) Includes the following government regions: North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West and Merseyside
Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list for each year since 1992 the average funding per student, for each sixth form college in Shrewsbury and Atcham; and if he will make a statement. 
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|Funding per student
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of parents are (a) expected to and (b) discharge their obligations to fund their children who are students under the student support arrangements. 
Mr. Wicks [holding answer 28 March 2001]: In England and Wales students on undergraduate courses and their families are expected to make a contribution towards their tuition fees and living costs (maintenance) only if they can afford to do so.
In academic year 1998-99, the latest year for which data are available, the proportion of higher education students whose parents were assessed to pay towards their support under the Education (Student Support) Regulations and who were assessed to contribute towards their fees was 65 per cent. Of these, an estimated 41 per cent. were assessed to pay the full support (£1,000 in 1998-99) and 24 per cent. were assessed to pay a partial contribution towards fees.
Data on parental contributions to tuition fees and to students' maintenance are available from the Student Income and Expenditure Survey in 1998-99. Based on a nationally representative sample of just over 2000 full-time students the survey estimates that the parents of 42 per cent. of students were assessed to make a contribution towards maintenance. Of these students 50 per cent. received more than the assessed amount, 20 per cent. received the exact amount, while the remaining 30 per cent. received less than the assessed amount.
The new student support arrangements introduced in 1999-2000 more than doubled the maximum amount of student loan from £1,685 to £3,635, in order to ensure that parents pay no more in upfront contributions than under the previous system. The value of the loan under the new arrangements increased, in cash terms, by 62 per cent. between 1997-98 and 1998-99 (the transitional year) and by 116 per cent. between 1997-98 and 1999-2000 when support for living costs was solely through loans (except for students in vulnerable groups who are also eligible for supplementary grants).
In 1998-99 only first year students were liable to pay tuition fees. In the Student Income and Expenditure Survey 42 per cent. of first year students said that their parents had been assessed to make a contribution towards fees, and of these four in five said that they had received the full amount. The one in five students who reported
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receiving less than the full parental contribution to fees is based on a small sample of students (237). This small number, although the result of a nationally representative sample, is subject to sampling error.
Universities UK (formerly the Committee of Vice- Chancellors and Principals) conducts periodic surveys of fee payment to higher education institutions. The latest, in November 2000, estimated that 97 per cent. of students' fee contributions for the previous academic year would be paid by the end of October 2000.
Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many secondary schools in Shrewsbury and Atcham were connected to the internet (a) in May 1997 and (b) on the most recent date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Wills: The Department does not hold this information on a constituency basis. However, since 1996 the percentage of primary and secondary schools in England with internet connections has increased from 5 per cent. to 86 per cent., and from 47 per cent. to 98 per cent., respectively. I am confident therefore that we are on track to meet our target of connecting all schools to the internet by 2002 and, in doing so, to enable all pupils to benefit from access to resources that will enrich their learning and help to improve standards.
Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1) if he will make a statement on the role of the local New Deal Strategy Group in determining whether direct displacement of existing employees has taken place in firms participating in the New Deal; 
Ms Jowell: When an employer signs up to New Deal they sign an employer agreement which states they have not made anyone redundant or displaced to create the vacancy. The agreement is usually signed on behalf of the Employment Service by the local Business Manager who initiates action if an employer is found to have contravened the agreement. If this proves to be the case, the Employment service would refuse to service any further vacancies for that employer.
The New Deal Strategic Partnership would not normally be involved in issues to do with the displacement of existing employees by New Deal participants. Their role includes producing local strategic plans, monitoring delivery and harnessing local support for New Deal.
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Ms Jowell: Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Employment Service agency under its Chief Executive. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given, which has been placed in the Library.