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8 May 2008 : Column 1112W—continued

Civil Service Agencies

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will list each of his Department's (a) agencies and (b) non-departmental public bodies, setting out in each case their (i) function, (ii) latest estimated annual running costs and (iii) number of staff; and if he will make a statement. [203156]

Mr. Lammy: The non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies of my Department are listed in the following table. This provides the details sought in your question.

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8 May 2008 : Column 1114W
Schedule of the non-departmental public bodies and executive agencies—April 2008
Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Student Loans Company (SLC) Office for Fair Access (OFFA) Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Commission for Employment and Skills (CES)

Type of body





Executive NDPB and company limited by guarantee

Approximate FTEs (full-time equivalents)




(1) 3,630


Budget (£ million)



















Key functions

Distribute public money to HEIs

To provide financial services to HEIs and students throughout the UK

To promote and safeguard fair access to HE for under-represented groups

Funding and commissioning post-16 learning (up to but not including HE) in England

Assess progress towards 2020 Leitch objective

Promote high quality education and research

To administer the collection of repayments

Work effectively across the four UK nations to support the world class skills agenda

Ensure accountability and promote good practice

Advise Ministers and monitor the contribution of the employment and skills system

Advise on the integration of employment and skills related services

Manage the performance of the Sector Skills Councils

(1) Establishment figure. (2) DIUS funding.

New FE sector-owned improvement body National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) Research Councils ( RC s) Technology Strategy Board (TSB)

Type of body


Executive agency

Executive agency and trading fund



Approximate FTEs (full-time equivalents)






Budget (£ million)


(1)140-150 throughout the period

















Key functions

Strategic commissioning body to support FE organisational development

Responsibility for the UK’s Weights and Measures framework

Responsibility for the UK’s Intellectual Property framework

The Research Councils aim to deliver a world-class research base and through this create a higher level of economic impact and a better quality of life for people in the UK. The integration of three key outputs is vital to achieving this objective: skilled people, knowledge and innovation

Managing programmes to support technological innovation for DIUS

To improve standards of teaching and learning for the benefit of learners, employers and the wider community

Provision of statutory and commercial metrology services

Responsibility for the UK engagement on IP issues

(2)Figure from 2006-07 reports and includes institute/scientific and technical staff.

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Design Council National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts(NESTA)( 1) National Physical Laboratory

Type of body



Government owned contractor operated agency

Approximate FTEs (full-time equivalents)




Budget (£ million)













Key functions

Strengthen and support the UK economy and society by inspiring and enabling the best use of design

To support and promote talent, innovation and creativity in the fields of science, technology and the arts

NPL is the UK's National Measurement Institute and is a centre of excellence in developing and applying accurate measurement standards, science and technology

DIUS provides NPL with guaranteed funding to maintain and disseminate current measurement standards and to perform research into new standards, techniques and instrumentation that will support future UK needs and stimulate innovation

NPL also represents the UK in the international measurement arena

(1)NESTA is funded by an endowment from the National Lottery rather than grant-in-aid.

Departmental Written Questions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what proportion of questions tabled to his Department for written answer on a named day have been answered on the day named in the current Session. [204208]

Mr. Lammy: Since the beginning of the 2007-08 Session and up to 30 April 2008, the Department has received a total of 1,272 PQs—parliamentary questions—153 named day and 1,119 ordinary written PQs. The manual check of all named day PQs carried out to monitor the timeliness of replies for the months of November 2007 to April 2008 are shown in the following table.

Total named day PQs received (Number) Total named day PQs answered on time (Percentage)

November 2007



December 2007



January 2008



February 2008



March 2008



April 2008



Mature Students: Finance

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government has taken to increase support available to mature students since 1997. [203734]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 7 May 2008]: Before 2006, loans were limited to students aged under 55, or under 50 for students not intending to enter employment upon graduating. During the passage of the Higher Education Act, concerns were raised about the upper age limits: the Government set up a working group which recommended that there should be no age limit applied to the fee loan when this was introduced in 2006, and a review of the existing age limits on maintenance loans with the intention of increasing this to match the state pension age for the 2006-07 academic year. Consequently, mature students are generally eligible for the same student support as other students, though maintenance loans are available only to those aged under 60. In 2006-07 the age limit for applying for a student loan was raised to 60 years of age and the additional requirement for the student to enter into an agreement to work after their studies was removed.

Students over 25 years of age ('mature students') are treated as independent, and are assessed on their own income (and the income of their spouse or partner where applicable) and not on the income of their parents. For full-time students, fee loans of up to £3,070 (£3,145 in 2008-09) ensure that no one has to pay their fees upfront students under the age of 60 are eligible for maintenance loans of up to £6,315 (£6,475 in 2008-09)(1). Means-tested grants of up to £2,765 (£2,835 in 2008-09) are available to new students. From 2008-09, we are increasing the income thresholds for the means tested maintenance grant so many more full-time students, including mature students, will receive grant support. This will mean that one third of all eligible students in England entering higher education in the academic year 2008-09 are expected to be entitled to a full non-repayable grant worth £2,835 and another one third are expected to be entitled to a partial grant.

(1) This is the maximum amount available to students studying in London. Students studying elsewhere can receive up to £4,510 (£4,625 in 2008-09)

They can also access targeted support including the adult dependants grant, parents learning allowance, childcare grant and disabled students allowance. students may also qualify for a bursary from their higher education institution. Students may also apply for support from the access to learning fund, a university-administered fund for students experiencing financial hardship.

Student parents are eligible to receive child tax credit from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Mature students who do not qualify for undergraduate student support may be eligible for a career development loan which has an element of subsidy from public funds.

Students: Loans

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills who took the decision to link the interest rate on student loans to the retail price index; and if he will make a statement. [202579]

Bill Rammell: Parliament determined the interest rate to be paid on student loans. The principle is that borrowers should repay the same amount, in real terms, as they borrowed. To achieve this, the rate of interest is the retail price index (RPI), although the method for determining the rate of interest varies depending on the type of loan.

Older 'mortgage style' loans are credit agreements under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The interest rate is determined in accordance with the Education
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(Student Loans) Regulations 1998 which prescribe the rate of interest to be equal to the RPI so long as that index is published.

Income contingent repayment loans are ‘low interest loans’ exempt under section 16(5) (b) of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Interest is calculated in accordance with the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2007, as amended, and is the lower of the rate which the Secretary of State determines is appropriate to maintain the real value of the loans (RPI), or 1 per cent. above the highest of the base rates published by the banks listed in Regulation 4 of the Consumer Credit (Exempt Agreements) Order 1989. Accordingly, there is potential for the interest rates for the two types of loans to differ but, to date, the RPI rate has consistently applied since 1990 to 'mortgage style' loans and since 1998 to income contingent loans.

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