Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will review salary negotiations for public sector employees in organisations within his Department's responsibility to reflect the rise in the consumer price index to a point above three per cent. 
Mr. Lammy: The Government's pay policy is guided by the following principles. Public sector pay settlements should be consistent with maintaining the necessary levels of recruitment, retention and staff engagement needed to support service delivery; ensuring that total pay bills represent value for money and are affordable within departments' overall expenditure plans; and consistent with the achievement of the inflation target. Timing of pay decisions for a particular workforce depends on pay-setting arrangements for that workforce.
Mr. Lammy: Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis, a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total cost of all ministerial travel overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2007/08 is currently being compiled and will be published before the summer recess. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many students from Wirral West constituency entered (a) Oxford and (b) Cambridge University in the last five years; what steps his Department has taken in (i) Wirral and (ii) England to encourage more people from lower socio-economic groups to apply to these and other leading universities; and if he will make a statement. 
|Entrants to undergraduate courses at the university of Oxford and the university of Cambridge( 1) from Wirral West parliamentary constituency, academic years 2002/03 to 2006/07
|University of Oxford
|University of Cambridge
|(1) The university of Cambridge has taken the opportunity of a new student record system to review the recording of student data. The head of planning and resource allocation at the university of Cambridge should be consulted about significant variances when comparing data for 2004/05 and 2005/06 or using 2005/06 data where there are particular sensitivities. These sensitivities include postgraduate research and postgraduate taught totals; other postgraduate and other undergraduate totals; clinical medical FTEs; data relating to new entrants; and sources of financial support for postgraduates.
Figures are based on a HESA standard registration population basis and have been rounded to the nearest five.
Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record.
The Aimhigher programme helps to raise the aspirations of young people towards university. Aimhigher is a national programme which supports trips to universities, masterclasses, summer schools and similar activities. Greater Merseyside Aimhigher has strong links with the university of Liverpool and others that offer a high rate of return. For example, Magdelene college, Cambridge runs a roadshow in schools in Wirrall; university of Liverpool runs a summer school for year 10 pupils from across Wirrall; and Birkenhead sixth-form college runs activities with Fitzwilliam college, Cambridge. Greater Merseyside Aimhigher will be receiving nearly £13 million between 2008/09 and 2010/11.
The National Programme for Gifted and Talented Education helps to raise attainment, especially for those underachieving as a consequence of disadvantage. The programme is designed to raise students attainment and aspirations, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that more are well-placed to compete for places at universities with the highest rates of return. Each region, including the North-West, has an Excellence Huban HE-based partnership providing outreach opportunities that support this objective.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the drop out rate was for each (a) higher education institution and (b) higher education course taught in a further education institution in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Bill Rammell: Student retention rates at higher education institutions in this country compare very well internationally. The UK ranks fifth in the OECD for first degree completion rates, out of 23 countries who report data in this area. A university education is now open to more students than ever before and the Government are totally committed to providing opportunities for all people to achieve their potential and to maximise their talent.
While there has been a slight increase in non-completion for the 2005/06 academic year, the proportion is lower than for most years for which data are available and is much lower than in the late 1990s.
The available information on the proportions of UK-domiciled starters to full-time first degree courses who are projected to neither obtain an award nor transfer to another institution, for each English HEI, along with their benchmarks, are shown in table 1.
The figures in table 1 include higher education provided under a franchise in a further education institution; however these figures are not identified separately. Information is not available for higher education students registered at further education institutions (i.e. directly funded).
|Table 1: Proportion of full-time first degree starters at English higher education institutions, who were projected to neither gain an award nor transfer to another institutionacademic year 2005/06
1. The projected outcomes for a cohort are based on the assumption that their patterns of progression will follow those of students currently in the system. A student is assumed to have left with no award if they have been inactive for two years.
2. For each institution, the performance indicator is shown against a benchmark. This is a sector average which is adjusted for each institution to take into account the following factors: subject of study, qualifications on entry and age on entry. The benchmarks can be used to show how a university is performing compared to the sector as a whole, and also help to determine whether a meaningful comparison can be drawn between two or more universities. The benchmarks are not targets.
Performance Indicators in Higher Education, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).