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Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department is taking to secure universal access for deaf children to Sign Bilingualism; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Miliband: Last March the Government issued a position statement recognising British Sign Language (BSL) as a language in its own right and announcing that it would make available £1 million for a discrete programme of initiatives to support the statement. A working group comprising key Government Departments and organisations for deaf people has been established to advise on priorities for allocating the funding. Tenders are currently being sought for work
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which will contribute to establishing a Great Britain wide framework to support the recruitment, training and deployment of BSL tutors and for work which will promote access for BSL users through awareness-raising amongst employers, service providers and in the wider community. The working group will also be considering strategies and policies which overtime will further increase access to BSL and will be making recommendations to Ministers in the autumn.
Parents of deaf pupils who have statements of special educational needs, are able to express a preference for the maintained school they would like their child to attend, and can also make representations for a place at an independent or non-maintained special schools. Before expressing a preference they are able to consider communication approaches offered by different schoolsauditory-oral, total communication or sign bilingualism.
Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the budget for the teaching of A-Levels and equivalent academic courses in sixth-form colleges was in each year since 199697; and what the budget is for 200506. 
Alan Johnson [holding answer 14 January 2004]: The Department allocates funds to the Learning and Skills Council for the provision of A-Levels and equivalent academic courses in the post-16 learning and skills sector. The Department does not provide a specific budget to the LSC for sixth-form colleges. It is for the Learning and Skills Council to determine for itself the right level of investment in sixth-form colleges from the funds allocated to it for learning participation. Mark Haysom the Council's Chief Executive will to write to the hon. Gentleman providing details of the funds allocated to sixth-form colleges from 199697 to 200304, and provisional allocations to sixth form colleges from 200405 to 200506. A copy of his letter will be placed in the House Library.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what estimates he has made of the cost of providing (a) maintenance loans and (b) fee loans in each of the next 10 years assuming (i) current student numbers and (ii) expected growth in student numbers; 
Alan Johnson: Information on the costs and benefits associated with the proposal in the Higher Education Bill to allow universities to set their own tuition fees is contained in the Regulatory Impact Assessment published on 8 January alongside the Bill. Because of the nature of a variable scheme, the costs vary greatly according to the decisions that both students and higher education institutions take, and they cannot be estimated precisely at this stage. Copies
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of the Regulatory Impact Assessment were placed in the Library of the House; it is also available on the Department for Education and Skills website.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the size of the total student loan debt was in each year since 1999; what the size of the increases in (a) loans taken out and (b) repayments of principal were in each year; what the increases from interest additions were in each year; and what the Government contribution to the student loan scheme was in each year. 
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Alan Johnson [holding answer 15 January 2004]: The Secretary of State for Education and Skills has responsibilities for student loanspaid to higher education students domiciled in England and Wales, and this information is therefore provided on an England and Wales basis.
The table shows the student loans issued, repaid, the interest added and the amount outstanding at the end of the year for financial years 19992000 to 200102, and the change between each financial year.
|England and Wales
|Amount outstanding at the end of the financial year
(7) Amounts repaid cannot be split between repayments of principal and interest.
|Resource Accounting andBudgeting costs
|Movement on Provisions
Alan Johnson: We anticipate that universities and other higher education sector institutions will be required, subject to parliamentary approval of the Higher Education Bill and designation of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), to fund the OIA from March 2005.
(3) what plans he has to guarantee teaching posts to undergraduates who have received bursaries funded through the Sure Start programme. 
Mr. Miliband: I announced last month that a minimum of 400 initial teacher training places would be made available in the 2004/05 academic year for trainees with an early years specialism. These are all places on Postgraduate Certificate in Education courses and will therefore in principle attract £6,000 training bursaries. An additional £2 million will be made available to the Teacher Training Agency to cover the costs of the additional places that will fall in the 200405 financial year. In view of the growing demand for trained teachers in early years settings, there is every reason to expect that suitable employment opportunities will be available for the trainees who are being recruited to fill these places.
Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the amount of funding that will be raised for higher education in (a) 2006 and (b) each year to 2020 under (i) the present arrangements and (ii) his proposals on top-up fees. 
Alan Johnson: The latest available estimates for fee income under the existing arrangements are for 2003/04: the total income from the standard fee of £1,125 is estimated at £847 million. Information on the additional income from variables fees is contained in the Regulatory Impact Assessment published on 8 January alongside the HE Bill. Because of the nature of a variable scheme, the extra income from fees will vary according to the decisions that higher education institutions take on the level of fee, both when variable
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fees are introduced, and as universities' fee policies evolve in subsequent years. Copies of the Regulatory Impact Assessment were placed in the Library of the House; it is also available on the Department for Education and Skills website.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the average bursary that universities charging the full £3,000 will pass on to students from poorer backgrounds; and how many students he estimates will receive this bursary. 
Alan Johnson: As a minimum, the Government want to ensure that no student who qualifies for the maximum state support (around 30 per cent. of students) has to take out additional debt as a result of higher fees. For a student on a £3,000 course, this means a minimum bursary/financial support of at least £300. But, as we have made clear the Director will expect more than the minimum from those institutions that do not have a strong record in access. For example, Cambridge University have announced that they will offer bursaries of £4,000 a year for the poorest students. Therefore we expect the average bursary will be more than £300 and more than 30 per cent. of students will benefit.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what powers the Office of Fair Access will have in the setting of bursary amounts in respect of universities that do not have strong records in recruiting students from poorer backgrounds. 
Alan Johnson: From 2006, no institution will be able to charge higher fees without having an access plan which will include details of the action they will take to safeguard access, including offering financial support (including bursaries) and running outreach activities. The Director of Fair Access will scrutinise the access plans and refuse to approve any which are not satisfactory.