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Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the proposed research excellence framework on (a) the development of knowledge transfer partnerships, (b) research funding for university engineering departments, (c) management education and (d) the supply of experienced managers entering management teaching. 
The objective of our proposed reform of research assessment is to develop a simpler, less bureaucratic system for identifying and funding excellent research wherever It is not however intended to achieve a significantly different distribution of funding. The HEFCE consultation on the next stage in the development of the research excellence framework (REF) closed last week and the detailed results are currently being analysed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and
Skills plans to meet Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of HEFCE, shortly to discuss the responses and next steps.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much public money has been advanced to sector skills councils; how much has been repaid; and what arrangements have been made for repayment of outstanding loans. 
Mr. Lammy: Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) receive public money from a range of sources. This normally takes the form of grant funding for the delivery of specific projects, mainly relating to occupational standards and qualification reform delivery. The schedule shows the forecast amount contracted with SSCs by the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) during 2005/06 and 2007/08 financial years (1 April to 31 March). Information about other public money paid to SSCs is not available centrally.
In addition to contracting with SSCs for this project activity, the Sector Skills Development Agency provides core funding to SSCs to support delivery of their agreed business plans. Core funding contracts are normally of three years duration and most SSCs are now on their second contract. The overall contract values range between £4 million and £7.2 million for the three year period and the payment profiles vary, by individual agreement with each SSC. Such grant funding is tied to the delivery of agreed contractual outputs and outcomes. The SSDA does not loan money to SSCs.
|SSDA funding to SSCS|
|Forecast 2007/08( 1)||Actual 2005/06|
|Core funding||Other funding||Total||Core funding||Other funding||Total|
|(1) Forecast for period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 based on information at 31 December 2007.|
Bill Rammell: The Government are committed to improving the skills of the workforce, and to delivering the world class skills ambition recommended by Lord Leitch in his independent review of our nations skills. In World Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England, published in July last year, the Government set out how it will work with employers, trade unions and individuals to deliver its world class skills ambition. As World Class Skills makes clear, this will require a significant increase in the number of people already in the workforce who improve their skills, re-skill and gain new qualifications each year. 70 per cent. of the 2020 workforce is already beyond the age of compulsory education.
Working in partnership with employers is vital to the delivery of the Governments skills ambitions. Through the measures set out in World Class Skills, the Government are giving employers the opportunity to exert real leverage and decision making over both the content and delivery of skills and employment programmes. The new UK Commission for Employment and Skills will strengthen the employer voice at the heart of the system. Reformed and re-licensed sector skills councils will be sharply focussed on raising employer investment, articulating the future skills needs of their sector and ensuring that the supply of skills and qualifications is driven by employers.
The Skills Pledge offers employers the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their commitment to investing in the skills of their employees and over 850 employers, covering over 2.3 million employees have already done this. To help employers of all sizes and in all sectors to identify and address their skills needs, the Government are expanding and improving the Train to Gain service, and expect to increase their investment through Train to Gain to over £1 billion by 2010-11.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) how many (a) full-time and (b) part-time students under 22 years old withdrew from their higher education course in each year since 2001; 
Bill Rammell: The information available on non-continuation of higher education students is shown in tables 1 and 2. The figures are taken from the Performance Indicators in Higher Education, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
Table 1 shows the proportion of UK-domiciled full-time first degree entrants to higher education institutions in England, who do not continue in higher education after their first year table 2 shows the proportion of UK-domiciled full-time other undergraduate entrants to higher education institutions in England, who do not
continue in higher education after their first year. Both tables 1 and 2 are broken down by young (under 21) and mature (21 and over) students.
|Table 1: Percentage of UK-domiciled full-time first degree entrants to English higher education institutions not continuing in higher education after their first year|
|Academic year||Young (under 21)||Mature (21 and over)|
Performance Indicators in Higher Education, published by HESA
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