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Mr. Lammy: Union learning representatives (ULRs) are lay union representatives, whose main function is to advise union members about their training, educational and development needs. Since the launch of the Union Learning Fund (ULF) in 1998, and the introduction of statutory rights for ULRs to train and carry out their duties in 2003, more than 18,000 have been trained helping more than 400,000 people into learning.
Both employers and workers stand to benefit from ULRs. They are an inexpensive source of expert advice for employers. They are particularly effective in reaching workers with basic skills needspeople who may be reluctant to take advantage of training opportunities. In that sense, ULRs help to stimulate a demand for learning and training among a group which employers find it hard to reach.
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Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills further to his letter of 7 September 2007 to the Chairman of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, whether a UK resident or citizen with a qualification from an overseas institution deemed to be equivalent to or lower than a qualification which they wish to study will qualify for public funding for higher education courses in English institutions where they have not previously accessed public funding for higher education within the UK. 
Bill Rammell: Subject to exceptions for particular categories of students and subjects on which HEFCE has been consulting, such citizens who wished to study for a qualification equivalent to or lower than the one already obtained from an overseas institution would not qualify for the purposes of institutional public funding. Our clear priority is to widen participation and increase the incentives for higher education providers to attract and retain more of the millions of people without a first higher education qualification, wherever that qualification was obtained.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2007, Official Report, columns 754-55W, on Union Learning Fund, by what means trained union learning representatives help workers back into learning under the Union Learning Fund. 
Mr. Lammy: Union learning representatives (ULRs) are lay union representatives; whose main function is to advise union members about their training, educational and development needs. Since the launch of the Union Learning Fund (ULF) in 1998, and the introduction of statutory rights for ULRs to train and carry out their duties in 2003, more than 18,000 ULRs have been trained. Latest figures show that last year they helped over 150,000 workers into learning through a wide variety of ULF projects.
ULRs are trained to an approved standard by Unionlearn, the TUCs learning organisation, or their own union to carry out their role in engaging, supporting and helping workers back into learning. This training provides the ULRs with a wide range of skills to help fellow workers back into learning including:
starting conversations at work about the importance of learning and showing that everyone can benefit from improving their skills;
carrying out informal group and one to one interviews in the workplace to find out the learning needs of workers, how these can best be addressed, including where and when;
carrying out Skills for Life screening to identify any literacy or numeracy needs in a relaxed non threatening way to allay any fears individuals may have;
working closely with training providers to customise the content of learning programmes and arranging how and when the learning can be delivered on a flexible basis to enable the widest participation;
supporting (earners who may have missed a few sessions of learning and encouraging them to continue by helping to address any needs which may have arisen;
working with employers to set up a learning centre in the workplace.
These are just some of the ways in which ULRs can help workers into learning, but perhaps most important is their ability to engage with those hard to reach learners who might otherwise be too embarrassed to admit their learning needs to an employer or supervisor but who trust a fellow worker who understands their point of view. In that sense, ULRs help to stimulate a demand for learning and training among a group which employers and training providers find it so difficult to reach.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many education or training places were funded through the Union Learning Fund in each year since 1998; and how many of these led to qualifications at level (a) 2 and (b) 3. 
The Union Learning Fund (ULF) is a source of funding to help trade unions boost their capacity as learning organisations and use their influence with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take up of learning in the workplace. It is not used to fund the provision of training courses but enables trade unions and their union learning
representatives to provide advice, guidance and support in order to help workers access learning opportunities to improve their skill levels.
With the help of ULF, trade unions and their union learning representatives have been really successful in working with employers to help people get back into learning, tackling both organisational and individual skill needs. There are now over 18,000 trained union learning representatives who have helped over 400,000 workers back into learning since the fund was introduced in 1998 there were over 150,000 last year alone, many of whom were Skills for Life learners, those most in need of new skills who employers and training providers find it so difficult to reach.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the 10 most expensive projects funded under the Union Learning Fund were in each year since 1998; and how much each cost. 
Mr. Lammy: Trade unions have a key role to play in promoting the development of learning and skills in the workplace. To help them do this more effectively we introduced the Union Learning Fund (ULF) in 1998. This source of funding is helping trade unions use their influence with employers, employees and training providers to encourage greater take up of learning at work and boost their own capacity as learning organisations. The 10 projects that were awarded the most funding through the ULF in each financial year since 1998 are set out in the following tables identified by the lead union.
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