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11 May 2009 : Column 600W—continued

Higher Education: Admissions

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will make an estimate of the number of undergraduate places additional to those available in 2008-09 which would be required to increase the rate of participation in higher education to 50 per cent. of people between 18 and 30 years old. [274357]

Mr. Lammy: It is not possible to estimate the Higher Education Initial Participation Rate (HEIPR) in this way.

The HEIPR is not based simply on the total number of students (or ‘places’) in the system in any given year, but on the number of new entrants in each year. The specification of the HEIPR means that it depends on the characteristics of those entrants (for example age, domicile, length of participation and any prior higher education participation of more than six months) which depend on decisions made by higher education institutions and further education colleges, and cannot be reliably estimated.

The HEIPR is also impacted by changes in the total England population of 17 to 30-year-olds; so a theoretical figure that might have a given impact in HEIPR in one year would not have the same impact in another year when the demography of this population will be different.

Higher Education: Finance

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much funding was allocated under the Widening Participation programme to universities in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08. [274044]

Mr. Lammy: This Government are fully committed to ensuring every young person has a fair chance of attending university. And we are making progress with the proportion of young entrants from lower socio-economic groups going to university increasing steadily, reaching almost 30 per cent. in 2007.

The amount spent on all programmes to encourage and widen participation in higher education in the years 2005-06 to 2007-08 was as follows. Figures are £ million to nearest whole number.

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£ million

2005-06 2006-07 2007-08





Student support(2)




Widening participation allocation(3)




University bursaries and outreach(4)








(1) This is the total Aimhigher budget. The amounts allocated specifically to universities are not available at national level.
(2) The student support figures are for all English domiciled students and not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Includes student loans Resource Account Budget (RAB) charge, fee loans, student support grants, Maintenance Grant, HE Grant, grants for vulnerable students, tuition fee grants, grants for part-time students and access funds and bursaries. The student loans RAB charge estimates the future cost to Government of subsidising and writing off the student loans issued in that year; it does not represent the amount of cash lent to students, which has risen each year since the introduction of student loans. Figures for 1997-2007 are outturn; that for 2007-08 is estimated outturn; those for 2008-11 are plans.
(3) These figures also include the allocations for improving the retention of non traditional students, and to widen access and improve provision for disabled students.
(4) University bursaries and outreach are funded by universities from their tuition fee income under the terms of their access agreements with the Office for Fair Access.

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when he plans to announce the outcome of the bidding process for funding under the new university challenge scheme. [274581]

Mr. Lammy: Decisions about the funding of universities are for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), not Ministers, and this applies to New University Challenge. HEFCE published guidance that outlines application procedures and their decision making process on 9 March 2009.

Innovation: Coventry

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department is taking to develop innovation in Coventry. [272030]

Mr. Lammy: The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by DIUS, is the main national provider of innovation support in the UK. Through the TSB, 25 companies and three higher education establishments in the Coventry area are currently involved in 34 Collaborative R&D projects and five Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

The Collaborative R&D projects and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which enable companies to work with the UK knowledge base to develop new products, processes and services, are jointly funded by business and have a total value of nearly £100 million. Of this, £41 million is grant funding from the TSB.

Advantage West Midlands (AWM) also funds the Innovation Network project, which is managed by Coventry University. The network provides businesses with the desire to innovate the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses and access funding of between £10,000 to £15,000.

AWM has also invested £1.4 million in the first phase of the transformation of the Gosford Gate area into a vibrant trading gateway and centre for creative enterprises. The area will focus on arts, IT and design companies, which will feed off and support each other as well
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existing businesses. It is expected to become the cauldron of creative talent in the city and beyond. The scheme is a partnership between AWM, Coventry city council, Coventry Warwickshire and Solihull Partnership, Far Gosford Street businesses and residents, Heritage Lottery Fund, and local developers Complex Development Projects Ltd. It is one element in the radical £2.2 billion transformation of Coventry into a 21st century city.

Coventry is also able to benefit from regional innovation projects including the INDEX innovation voucher scheme and the Innovation Advisory Service available through Business Link West Midlands, and from national programmes such as the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), which supports universities to work with business and public services and drive innovation. For example, HEIF funding has been used to support Coventry University’s Institute of Creative Enterprise and Serious Games Institute.

Research: Standards

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the latest research assessment exercise in assisting universities to develop centres of internationally excellent research. [274172]

Mr. Lammy: The aim of the research assessment exercise (RAE) is to assess the quality of research in higher education institutions. The RAE informs the allocation of the quality related block grant research funding, which is awarded on the basis of excellence. Funding on the basis of excellence gives institutions an incentive to drive up the quality of research. The 2008 RAE identified that 55 per cent. of research in England was either “World Leading” or “Internationally Excellent”. The latest report on the UK’s comparative international research performance shows the UK as second in the world, only to the USA, with 12 per cent. of total world citations.

Students: Disability Living Allowance

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what information his Department holds on the percentage of students at (a) the London School of Economics, (b) Birmingham University, (c) Oxford University, (d) Cambridge University, (e) University College London, (f) Bristol University and (g) Durham University who are claiming disability living allowance. [274428]

Mr. Lammy: The Department does not hold information on students who claim disability living allowance. The latest available information on students who claim disabled students’ allowance (DSA) is shown in the table. Information on postgraduate students who claim DSA is not available. Figures are from the “Performance Indicators in Higher Education”, published by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Figures for the 2007/08 academic year will be available in June 2009.

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Percentage of full-time first degree, all undergraduate and part-time undergraduate students in receipt of disabled students allowance (DSA), academic year 2006/07
Full-time first degree Full-time all undergraduate( 1) Part-time undergraduate( 2)
Higher education institution Percentage in receipt of DSA Bench mark Percentage in receipt of DSA Bench mark Percentage in receipt of DSA Bench mark

University of Birmingham







University of Bristol







University of Cambridge







University of Durham







London School of Economics and Political Science







University of Oxford







University College, London







(1 )All full-time undergraduate figures and full-time first degree figures will contain an element of double counting, as first degree students will be included in the “all undergraduate” category. (2) Benchmarks for part-time undergraduates exclude the Open University. Source: Performance Indicators in Higher Education, published by HESA.

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.

Students: Disabled

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what guidance his Department provides to universities on (a) the provision of help and support to students with disabilities and (b) compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA); what assessment his Department has made of the levels of (i) provision for students with disabilities and (ii) compliance with the DDA of (A) all universities and (B) members of the Russell Group; and if he will make a statement. [274429]

Mr. Lammy: Higher education institutions (HEIs) are classed as public authorities in the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA). As such they are legally required to meet both the general duty and specific duties to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in higher education (HE). Compliance with the law is the responsibility of institutions themselves and enforcement the responsibility of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has provided guidance to HEIs on supporting disabled students. In 1999, jointly with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales it published “Guidance on base-level provision for disabled students in higher education institutions”. The base level provision document contains information that is still useful and relevant today.

HEFCE is reviewing its policy as it relates to disabled students. This review includes an appraisal of its support to the sector in meeting the needs of disabled students and research commissioned jointly with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The research will look at the sector's support to disabled students and the progress that has been made since the publication of the guidance. HEFCE will be publishing an outcomes document in the summer outlining the results of the review and HEFCE's future policy and strategy for supporting the sector in this area.

The Department has published its progress report on disability equality in December 2008. The report's focus was on looking across the Department's policy areas to provide an assessment of progress towards disability equality. It did not focus on the compliance of our partners or stakeholders. The full report can be accessed here:

The report reflects that there has been significant advancement in the support provided to disabled students in HE, and in their ability to access HE, through the funding provided to HEIs to support such students and via the direct provision of disabled students' allowances.


Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces are learning each language indigenous to Afghanistan with support from his Department. [272934]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The MOD considers the principal languages of Afghanistan to be Balochi, Pashtu, Dari and Farsi, and conducts training accordingly.

In order to meet requirements for current operations, all military personnel deploying to Afghanistan receive a basic level of Pashtu training under Operational Training Advisory Group remit, and are equipped with a Pashtu language card.

In addition to this, Defence is delivering the language training provided in the following table.

Those who received training in financial year 2008-09 have not necessarily completed their training, while the figures for 2009-10 may be subject to in-year changes.

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Financial year

2008-09 2009-10













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