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26 Apr 2007 : Column 1295Wcontinued
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) in what month of the academic year students who are applying to read dentistry at university are required to submit their University and College Admissions Service applications; and what the average time was to inform such students of the outcome of their application in the latest period for which figures are available; 
(2) what the maximum number of universities is to which students applying to read dentistry may apply; and whether that figure differs from other university courses; 
(3) what impact the requirement for students applying to read dentistry at university to make a dental-specific University and College Admission Service application has on their prospects of being accepted on other university courses should they not be accepted on a dentistry course. 
Bill Rammell: The deadline for applications to dentistry is 15 October. Institutions are advised to contact UCAS by 31 March with their decisions, and the rejected by default date is 9 May.
Applicants may make four course choices for dentistry. Medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary science applications are all restricted to four choices with a deadline of 15 October. All other subjects have an advisory deadline of 15 January with up to six choices available. There are also separate arrangements for Oxford and Cambridge applications.
In their original application the applicant makes six choices in total, only four of which can be in dentistry. The final two choices can be in any subject. Should all of the applicant's choices be unsuccessful, opportunities to apply for courses remain through UCAS Extra and through the clearing system in August.
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many applications there were to read dentistry at university in (a) the 2004-05, (b) the 2005-06 and (c) the 2006-07 academic years; and how many applications were successful in each year. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 25 April 2007]: The figures are shown in the table.
|Applicants and accepted applicants to full-time courses in re-clinical dentistry|
| Source: Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS).|
Mr. Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) extra-curricular and (b) work experience activities are prerequisites for students who wish to apply for dentistry at university. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 25 April 2007]: The criteria used to assess applicants are a matter for individual universities.
The guidance in the UCAS publication on Progression to Medicine and Dentistry advises that
Without doubt, admissions tutors for both medicine and dentistry look for strong academic ability, just to prove your ability to cope with straight science, plus clear evidence of a commitment to medicine or dentistry as a career (which can usually be demonstrated via work experience placements).
In one of the case studies in this publication, work experience in a local dental practice is cited.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the status is of discussions to establish an European Union-wide common school text book; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: No formal discussions have taken place at the level of the United Kingdom or the European Union with a view to establishing a European Union-wide common school textbook. The Department would oppose such a textbook, should it be formally proposed, as it is an important part of schools autonomy that they are able to decide which resources they use to reach their teaching objectives. Furthermore, the implementation of such an EU-level proposal would be entirely at the discretion of each member state, as there is very little European Community competence in the field of education and training.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which projects were funded in support of the last European Youth Week; and what projects are planned in the UK for the next one. 
Bill Rammell: The Government do not fund any events for European Youth Week. It is for individual youth organisations to decide how they will participate in this event.
The UK does send a delegation, selected and organised by youth organisations and their national representative bodies, to the annual Brussels event.
Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills in what circumstances a person living in the UK and working as an au pair from (a) an EU and (b) a non-EU state may qualify for full fee remission for English for Speakers of Other Languages fees; and for how long such a person needs to be resident in the UK before qualifying. 
Phil Hope: Since 2001, people enrolling on Learning and Skills Council (LSC) supported English for Speakers of Other Languages courses have been entitled to automatic fee remission provided that they meet the LSCs eligibility criteria for publicly funded further education.
Entry to a course by any learner will depend on an initial assessment which confirms that a Skills for Life ESOL course is the most appropriate way of meeting their learning needs. For au pairs, this is unlikely to be the case as Skills for Life ESOL courses are intended to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged learners in settled communities, not those who are temporarily in the UK possibly with the intention of learning English.
However, if ESOL is appropriate, the following eligibility and fee arrangements apply:
Under the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Funding Guidance for 2006/07, the general rule for public funding of further education (FE) is that the
learner should have been resident in the UK for three years. Citizens of European Union (EU) countries are also generally considered to be eligible, as long as they have lived in the European Economic Area (EEA) for three years. This three-year residency requirement applies equally to UK citizens who have not been resident in the UK/EEA.
However, there are already a number of exceptions to this rule that take account of exceptional circumstances. For example, newly arrived spouses do not have to wait the normal three-year period. Provided they are married to a UK resident with settled status they become eligible for FE provision once they have been resident in the UK for one year.
These residency requirements reflect the Governments view that it is reasonable to expect a person to have established a relevant connection with the UK before being allowed to benefit from funding provided by UK taxpayers. These arrangements are long standing and have generally proved to be a fair measure for determining fee status. The eligibility rules must be met by all adults seeking to qualify under the home fees criteria, including UK nationals returning to this country from outside the EU.
Although there is no change to the eligibility conditions set out above, changes announced to fee remission will apply to all eligible learners. From August 2007, there will be no automatic fee remission for ESOL courses. Learners who can afford to do so will be asked to make a contribution to the cost of learning at a rate of 37.5 per cent. of the course fee with the Government still paying the majority of the cost. Those who are on benefits or who can evidence very low incomes will be entitled to fee remission.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people in each London borough he estimates are eligible for English for Speakers of Other Languages courses with full fee remittance. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 16 April 2007]: All learners eligible for support from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and enrolling on Skills for Life ESOL courses are currently entitled to automatic fee remission. Because entitlement is automatic, the LSC does not require evidence related to concessionary fees to be collected on its Individualised Learner Records. Consequently, it is not possible to use this information either to calculate those who would be entitled to full fee remission under current arrangements or to predict accurately for the future.
However, some evidence has been gathered to help clarify the number of people who will continue to be entitled to full fee remission from August 2007 when ESOL courses will no longer attract automatic fee remission and free tuition will only be available to priority groups, such as people who are unemployed or receiving income-based benefits.
For example, the South London Learning Partnership carried out a questionnaire with 12 providers covering 2,615 learners. Of these 35 per cent. are employed, of whom 89 per cent. have an income of 15,000 or below, and 51 per cent. are in receipt of
benefits. Of the remainder, 19 per cent. thought they would be able to pay. On this evidence, the majority of learners seeking ESOL courses would be entitled to full fee remission.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on plans for the post-16 curriculum. 
Bill Rammell: Post-16 students choose a curriculum best suited to their individual needs, interests and aspirations. If the leaving age is raised to 18 as we propose, it is crucial to ensure there is an appropriate curriculum for everyone. We are ensuring a greater post-16 choice through the introduction of employer designed diplomas, reforms to A-level and increased access to the International Baccalaureate.
Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect of the measures set out in the response to the Committee of Public Accounts 59th Report of 2005-06 on the level of head teacher vacancies. 
Jim Knight: Since 1997, head teacher vacancies have remained low and fairly stable. Provisional figures released today show a fall in the head teacher vacancy rate for the maintained sector from 0.8 per cent. in January 2006 to 0.6 per cent. in January 2007. However, we know that some types of schools such as church schools, schools in London and some small schools in rural areas find it harder to recruit senior staff than others.
Regarding the specific work highlighted in our response to the PAC report, we have made progress on a number of fronts. On vacancy filling, we have provided an additional £10 million funding to the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) to extend its support to schools and local authorities on succession planning. The NCSL is also strengthening work with governor organisations including advice on recruiting school leaders. We have further developed initiatives on bringing on new talent, including the Fast Track and Future Leader programmes. Revised professional standards for teachers, from September 2007, will provide all teachers with a clear, coherent and progressive set of career pathways and help them to prepare for leadership. More broadly, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study identified a number of issues affecting recruitment to leadership positions and we will be working with key stakeholders, including the social partners, to make progress on these issues.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the total value was on income-assessed non-repayable student bursaries administered by the Student Loans Company on behalf of higher education institutions in each year since 2001; 
(2) how many income-assessed non-repayable student bursaries were administered by the Student Loans Company on behalf of higher education institutions in each year since 2001. 
Bill Rammell: The Student Loans Company (SLC) have offered a bursary payment and administration service on behalf of individual higher education institutions since academic year 2006/07. The value and number of bursaries administered by SLC to date are as follows.
Value of 2006/07 bursaries paid to date by SLC on behalf HEIs(1 )(£ million)
Number of 2006/07 bursaries paid to date by SLC on behalf HEIs(1)
|(1)( )Figures relate to HEIs in England and Northern Ireland are correct as at 11 April 2007|
It should be noted that these figures only represent a part-academic year, and cover only HEIs that have opted to use the SLCs full bursary payment and administration service.
The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) is responsible for the annual monitoring of access agreements from academic year 2006/07 and will report on the outcome in autumn/winter 2007.
We are aware that following the introduction of access agreements in 2006, higher education institutions have budgeted to spend in excess of £300 million on bursaries and scholarships benefiting students from low-income backgrounds and other underrepresented groups by 2010-11.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many undergraduate places there were at universities in England for (a) physics, (b) chemistry, (c) biology and (d) mathematics in each of the last five years; and how many of these places were filled. 
Bill Rammell: Information on the number of places available for each subject is not held centrally. The allocation of places for particular subjects is a matter for individual higher education institutions.
The latest available information is shown in the table; comparable figures for the 2006/07 academic year will be available in January 2008.
|Number of students( 1) enrolled on undergraduate courses, by subjectEnglish higher education institutions academic years 2002/03 to 2005/06|
|(1) Covers students on full-time and part-time modes of study, from the UK and overseas.|
(2) Excludes the Open University. Prior to 2003/04, all students at the Open University were recorded in the Combined Subjects category.
Figures are on a HESA Standard Registration Population basis and have been rounded to the nearest five.
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
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