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Trust Schools

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will list the (a) schools and (b) organisations which have expressed an interest in setting up a trust school. [52554]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has discussed trust school policy and/or forming a trust for a school with a wide range of schools and organisations. We do not hold a comprehensive list of every organisation that has expressed interest or asked for information.

A number of the schools and organisations with whom we have discussed trust schools with since publication of the White Paper are listed as follows. Representatives of the organisations and schools listed have:

We are also engaged in early discussions with a number of other schools and organisations—we will release information about them once they have agreed to be involved in a pathfinder (except in cases where release might prejudice discussions with stakeholders in the project) or if they have agreed to be publicly named as working with the Government to develop the trust school model.

(a) Schools

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(b) Organisations

University Admissions/Applications

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research has been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by her Department since 1990 on future trends in university admissions; and if she will make a statement. [53902]

Bill Rammell: The Department and its partners undertake regular analysis to forecast future higher education student numbers and have done so for a number of years. For example, the Higher Education
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Funding Council for England (HEFCE) produced a report on future supply and demand in higher education in 2001 (2001/62) and subsequent publications by the Higher Education Policy Institute (e.g. Bekhradnia, 2005 Demand for Higher Education to 2015–16", HEPI) have updated on this analysis since.

Meanwhile, the Department and its partners continue to monitor actual levels of participation drawing on a number of sources (including UCAS data and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) records) and have for example, also undertaken research to explore better ways of monitoring participation and conducted evaluation of the impact of policies designed to increase aspiration and attainment to secure future HE participation among under-represented groups (see for example DfES research publication references RR676 and RR649). HEFCE's report on Young Participation in Higher Education" (2005/03) which considers the period 1994–2000 and monitors changes in overall participation rates year on year, is also worthy of highlighting in this context.

There have of course also been a number of independent reviews which have informed Government policy in this area over the last 15 years. These have variously explored actual patterns and anticipated future demand for HE. Of relevance here for example is the year long National Committee of Inquiry chaired by Sir Ron (now Lord) Dearing which in 1997 published the report Higher Education in the Learning Society". More recently, Professor Steven Schwartz, ex-Vice Chancellor of Brunel university, led an independent review of admissions practices and published a set of recommendations in 2004 for good practice in fair admissions to higher education.

From academic year 2006/07, no student will have to pay their fees upfront and they will only have to repay what they owe once they are earning £15,000 or more. Students from poorer backgrounds will be entitled to non-repayable maintenance grants and other forms of support, such as bursaries, are available from individual universities via their access agreements. The Department conducted a review of the international evidence to explore the likely implications of these reforms on future HE participation. This review (Variable fees—the international evidence", 2004) showed that higher differential fees can be introduced without adversely affecting the participation of students from less well-off families, particularly when backed up by fee deferral arrangements. Nevertheless, we will be conducting a full evaluation of the impact of the new student support arrangements to inform the independent review due to report to Parliament in 2009.

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government have taken to encourage pupils from poor backgrounds to apply for university; and what assessment she has made of (a) the effectiveness and (b) the estimated cost of these steps. [52103]

Bill Rammell: The Government remains fully committed to widening participation in higher education for reasons of social justice and economic need.
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We have reformed the student finance arrangements so that, in England, from 2006, no full-time student will have to pay fees up-front, nor will they repay anything until they leave higher education (HE) and are earning a reasonable wage. We are introducing a new up-front maintenance grant of up to £2,700 a year, targeted at lower income households, and a bigger maintenance loan to meet average basic living costs. The steady state costs of these arrangements will be £600 million each year for fee loans, £860 million for the new maintenance grant, and £510 million for maintenance loans.

Alongside our reforms to student finance, we have established the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). To date, OFFA has approved some 180 access agreements from institutions wishing to charge higher level fees from 2006. These will make available over £300 million in financial support to students from low income backgrounds and an additional £35 million in outreach.

In addition, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has allocated £282 million to higher education institutions in 2005–06 to help offset the costs associated with recruiting and retaining students from groups under-represented in HE. HEFCE is currently working with the sector to assess the impact of the allocation.

The Aimhigher programme seeks to raise aspirations and attainment levels among those currently under-represented in HE. Aimhigher is subject to a comprehensive evaluation strategy, organised in partnership with HEFCE and the Learning and Skills Council. It includes surveys of young people, educational providers and Aimhigher partnerships, conducted by independent research organisations. The evaluation seeks to identify what works, and to use this to inform further policy development and delivery. Evidence to date is mainly from the first years of Excellence Challenge, a predecessor programme. It shows that the type of activities now supported by Aimhigher have made an impact on aspirations and attainment. The budget for Aimhigher for the 2005–06 academic year is £102 million.

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