Copies are available in the Library for the reference of Members.
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Written Answers to Questions
Tuesday 28 October 2008
Innovation, Universities and Skills
To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans he has for the future use of lifelong learning networks; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which funds the lifelong learning networks, are committed to the ongoing sustainability of their work. HEFCE has now invested approximately £105 million across 2005-11 in 30 LLNs.
The Government and HEFCE are in no doubt about the value of LLNs. Their focus on progression and widening opportunity means that they can make an important contribution to a number of the Governments strategic objectives including lifelong learning, credit transfer, articulation arrangements between higher education programmes and the qualifications and credit framework, employer engagement and workplace learning, and progression from the 14-19 diplomas.
HEFCEs intention from the start was, and remains, that the initiatives of the LLNs must become embedded in the core business of institutions in order to survive long term. Each LLN was obliged to set out in its business case how it would meet longer term sustainability costs. HEFCEs arrangements for funding the LLNs sought explicitly to help institutions to work collaboratively by putting in place a number of processes and procedures. Although the early stages of this work were bound to be time consuming and expensive, HEFCE expects core LLN commitments to become part of the routine for partners as relationships and structures develop.
The extent of LLN continuing activity will depend on how embedded each network becomes and that, in the end, depends on the commitment of the partner institutions. HEFCE has already acknowledged that networks may require additional time and space to plan a phased approach to sustainability, and LLNs have therefore been invited to re-profile the latter phases of their HEFCE funding. There should also be opportunities for LLNs to contribute more fully in key strategic areas such as employer engagement, for which they could potentially access further substantial resources from HEFCE.
Adult Education: Finance
To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the effects on participation rates on concessionary fees in adult education under the age discrimination regulations. 
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The Government are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all learners, and that learning serves the needs of the whole community, including older people both within and outside the workforce. Our strategy for world class skills and our reforms of wider adult learning are designed to ensure that everyone, whatever their age or background, has the opportunity to improve their skills, prospects and quality of life.
Protection from discrimination on grounds of age was introduced in the area of employment and vocational training through the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006. The Regulations mean that further education and training providers are not allowed to set age limits for access to training unless they can show objective justification why there is a real need to apply such limits, The Government has decided that all courses at further and higher education institutions are covered by the age regulations, whether they are specifically vocational or more general in nature. This ensures that there is a unified and consistent approach to age-related practices and policies in relation to all such provision.
Fee concessions for further education provision are offered at the discretion (and cost) of individual colleges and other FE providers, such as local authorities, and I must stress that the regulations do not bar providers from offering these fee discounts. Many colleges and other providers have longstanding, formal, informal and discretionary arrangements based on age when deciding eligibility for fee concessions, and it will continue to be the learning providers decision as to whether to offer these subsidies to individuals. As a result, neither my Department nor the Learning and Skills Council holds information on those learners who receive these concessions.
I refer the hon. Member to my written statement of 16 May 2007, Official Report, column 35WS:
Guidance on the vocational training aspects of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations is available on the DTI website. It is aimed at, amongst others, providers of further and adult education. The guidance makes it clear that age related practices, such as age related fee concessions, may be objectively justified where they are a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. It is for providers to produce evidence of such objective justification if called upon to do so, or to take their own legal advice if necessary. Guidance on objective justification is also available on page 30 of the ACAS guidance on the Age Regulations.
Mr. Rob Wilson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how many staff are employed full-time on the Aimhigher programme. 
Information on the number of people who are employed by Aimhigher partnerships is not held centrally. Regions and areas have also taken different approaches to the employment of staff. In some areas, there are full-time dedicated Aimhigher co-ordinators, while in others Aimhigher is part of a larger job role. A number of staff in HE institutions, schools and colleges are also involved in the programme for part of their time, including those teachers and lecturers who deliver summer schools, masterclasses and other activities.
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To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will place in the Library copies of (a) surveys taken among his Departments employees since its inception and (b) written analysis of their findings. 
The Department is currently undertaking the first all-staff survey since its creation on 28 June 2007 under machinery of government changes. The results of the survey will be published on the DIUS website when the survey is completed.
To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills pursuant to the answer of 1 September 2008, Official Report, column 1504W, on GCSE A-Level, if he will place in the Library the same data for (a) 2002-03, (b) 2003-04, (c) 2004-05, (d) 2005-06 and (e) 2007-08. 
I have been asked to reply.
The information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Higher Education: Finance
Mr. Rob Wilson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what plans the Government has to (a) simplify higher education 28 Oct 2008 : Column 992W
funding and (b) increase the transparency of higher education funding. 
The principles upon which public funding for higher education is allocated are transparent even if they are not always simple. Any system of higher education funding which is fit-for-purpose has to start by recognising the diversity of both students, providers and sources of fundingboth public and private. We are in the middle of a debate with both providers and users of higher education to establish a long term framework for higher education against which future options for the shape of higher education funding, including decisions on tuition fee and student support arrangements, can properly be assessed.
Higher Education: Research
To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much quality- related funding has been awarded to each of the UKs universities since 2002. 
Higher education funding is a devolved matter. Within England, quality-related research funding (QR) is allocated and distributed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
The following table sets out QR funding from HEFCE from 2002/03 to 2008/09.
Figures are in cash terms, and include late grant adjustments, and reflect mergers. Figures exclude research capability funds.