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Table 2, which has been placed in the Library of the House, shows the proportion of full-time first degree entrants who were projected to neither gain an award nor transfer for each UK HEI. Information on the actual numbers projected to neither obtain an award nor transfer has not been published.
Student retention rates 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.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what the maximum amount of (a) grant and (b) loan available to students completing (i) clinical and (ii) research positions during a mandatory sandwich year forming part of an undergraduate degree course is. 
Generally, students are not entitled to grants for living costs in respect of an academic year of a sandwich course in which periods of full-time study aggregate to less than 10 weeks, unless the periods of work experience constitute unpaid service. They are, however, eligible for a non means-tested loan for living costsin 2008-09 the maximum amount available to most students will be £2,265.
However, students on certain specified unpaid placements in the public or voluntary sectors (including unpaid clinical and research positions in public health and local authorities) are potentially entitled to grants for living costs of up to £2,835 (up to £1,000 if they entered higher education in 2004/05 or 2005/06), subject to means testing; and for other grants for dependants and for travel. Students on such unpaid placements will be eligible for the full amount of loans for living costs, also subject to means testing and place of residence; in 2008/09 the maximum loan available to most students will be £4,625 (£6,475 for students living away from home and studying in London).
Students who entered HE in or after 2006 and who are subject to the variable fee regime can take out a non means tested fee loan of up to £3,145 in 2008/09 if any periods of full-time study in the academic year in question aggregate to more than 10 weeks, or £1,570 If any such periods aggregate to less than 10 weeks.
Students who entered HE before 1 September 2006 and who consequently are not subject to the variable fee regime will be liable for a tuition fee contribution of £1,255 if any periods of full-time study aggregate to more than 10 weeks, or a contribution of up to £610 if any such periods aggregate to less than 10 weeks. Such students can apply for a means-tested fee grant to cover their contribution, and can take out a non means-tested fee contribution loan to cover any shortfall in their fee grant.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps the Government (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to provide assistance to students who have been estranged from their families. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 9 July 2008]: The Education (Student Support) Regulations provide for students who are proven to be estranged from their parents to be treated as independent students for the purposes of assessing their entitlement to higher education student support. We have no plans to change the way in which the assessment of such students is carried out.
Students who claim to be estranged from their parents are required to provide sufficient evidence for their local authority (LA) to determine that the estrangement does exist and is permanent. For each subsequent year for which such a student applies for support; the LA has to satisfy itself that the estrangement still persists.
The financial assessment for single independent students (i.e. they do not have a husband, wife, civil partner or cohabiting partner of either sex) is based on the students own income only. The core student support package for such a student with an income of up to £18,360 (or up to £25,000 for new students starting their studies from 2008/09) studying outside London comprises: a non means-tested tuition fee loan of up to £3,145; a means-tested maintenance grant of £2,835; and a loan for maintenance of up to £4,625. Students who are in receipt of the full maintenance grant and who are being charged the maximum £3,145 tuition fee are also eligible for an institutional bursary of at least £310.
Extra support is available for disadvantaged students trough non means-tested disabled students allowances and means-tested childcare grant, adult dependant grant and parents learning allowance, in addition, students may also be able to apply to their university or college for support from its access to learning fund for students experiencing particular financial hardship.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when the new interest rates payable on student loans to be repaid over the year from 1 September 2007 to 31 August 2008 were set by the Student Loans Company; and (a) when and (b) in what form those rates were communicated to those graduates and current students who had taken out loans through the SLC. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 9 July 2008]: The student loan interest rate for the year from 1 September 2007 to 31 August 2008 was confirmed by officials during August 2007 as the rate to apply for the forthcoming academic year for both types of student loan.
In accordance with the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the SLC publishes details of the forthcoming change in the interest rate payable for pre-1998 mortgage style (MS) Student Loans before the new rate takes effect on 1 September each year. There is no similar requirement for advance notification for the current income contingent repayment (ICR) student loans which have a low interest rate exemption from arrangements governing consumer credit agreements. ICR statements are issued in September each year for those borrowers whose loans are not yet in repayment. For ICR borrowers who are in repayment, statements are issued after receipt of a file from HMRC. Thus, there is no specific timescale for the issue of these statements but, for the majority, these are issued between September and December.
However, the SLC publishes notices of the change of interest rates affecting all student loan borrowers in national newspapers before 1 September each year. The change is also published on the SLC's and Government websites.
Borrowers with MS loans are individually informed of the change by the SLC and private sector debt owners before 1 September. This is important as a change in interest rate for these borrowers changes the payments they are required to make. Borrowers with ICR loans receive notification of the change with their annual statements. While any change in the interest rate applied affects the overall balance of the outstanding loan, it does not alter the income-related repayments of these borrowers.
Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what estimate he has made of the additional costs incurred by students during non-paid work placements; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The range of unpaid placements varies greatly between different courses and different institutions. Information is not available on the costs incurred by students while undertaking a non-paid work placement.
Generally, students are not entitled to grants for living costs in respect of an academic year of a sandwich course in which periods of full-time study aggregate to less than 10 weeks. They are, however, eligible for a non means-tested loan for living costs. In 2008/09, the maximum amount available to most students will be £2,265.
However, students on specified unpaid placements in the public or voluntary sectors are potentially entitled to grants for living costs of up to £2,835 (up to £1,000 if they entered higher education in 2004/05 or 2005/06), subject to means-testing; and for other grants for dependants and for travel. Students on these specified unpaid placements will be eligible in 2008/09 for a student loan of up to £4,625 in most cases (up to £6,475 for students living away from home and studying in London), subject to means testing and place of residence.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what proportion of the Train to Gain budget was spent on employers that had been recruited by skills brokers in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 July 2008]: Since it was rolled out nationally from April 2006 the Train to Gain service has engaged almost 93,000 employers and led to over 488,000 employees starting learning funded by LSC. The brokerage service has played an important part in the development of Train to Gain. It has helped engage a high proportion of hard to reach employers, many of which are small businesses. Satisfaction with brokerage is high, at 80 per cent., and recent evaluations show that employers particularly value the local knowledge and impartiality of the brokerage service in helping them source high-quality training.
In the financial year 2006/07 34,000 employers engaged with Train to Gain, of which around half were engaged by skills brokers. The vast majority of employers engaged by brokers will have gone on to receive Train to Gain funding to help them invest in the skills of their employees. Detailed figures are not readily available on the proportion of employees who began learning programmes in Train to Gain who worked for employers engaged by skills brokers.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which 50 companies have the largest contracts for delivering the Train to Gain programme; and how much these contracts are worth in total. 
Mr. Lammy: Since it was rolled out nationally from April 2006, Train to Gain has grown quickly. It has now engaged 92,210 employers, supported 454,920 employees to begin learning programmes, and delivered 186,720 full level 2 and over 23,000 Skills for Life achievements. Recent evaluations of the service show that both employer and employee satisfaction with their experience of Train to Gain is high.
The following table lists the 50 providers, as at the end of May 2008, with the largest contracts for delivering Train to Gain in 2007/08. Taken together, these providers have contracts worth approximately £160 millionover 40 per cent. of projected spend for the year.
|Provider||Total allocation (£)|
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