Memorandum submitted by the Department
for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)
1. This Memorandum provides the Government's
views on the cross-border issues in the field of Further and Higher
Education. It sets out:
the Department for Innovation, Universities
and Skills (DIUS) mission to create a world class skills based
economy through investment and reform in the sector;
the policies and arrangements to
deliver this in England and how, following devolution, there are
similarities with or divergence from Wales;
the success of our policies and the
nature and extent of their impact on cross border flows; and
the mechanisms in place for consultation,
joint planning and collaboration between Governments, institutions
and partners at all levels; and highlights future arrangements
for the delivery of Further and Higher Education (F&HE) in
2. The creation of the new Department for
Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), in the Machinery of
Government changes in June 2007, provides the opportunity to focus
policies and funding to widen access to and increase participation
in F&HE to raise skills levels; generate world class research
and innovation and develop an improved partnership and engagement
with employers to meet the challenges of the 21st century:
Britain can only succeed in a rapidly changing
world if we develop the skills of our people to the fullest possible
extent, carry out world class research and scholarship and apply
both knowledge and skills to create an innovative and competitive
economy. The DIUS mission is to work with our partners to meet
these challenges. (DIUS Mission)
3. The importance of an effective F&HE
system remains at the heart of the Government's strategy for the
long term development economic and social success of Britain.
4. The report of Sir Sandy Leitch on UK
skills needs (Prosperity for all in the global economyWorld
Class Skills) set out the challenge to which the government
responded in the Leitch Implementation Plan. The new economic
mission required for colleges and the FE sector to boost workforce
skills is the key theme of the Government's White Paper Further
Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances March 2007.
And in April this year we published, Higher Education at WorkHigh
Skills: High value a consultation document which describes
a strategy to achieve growth in high skills (Level 4 and above).
5. It is within this context that the Memorandum
considers the cross border issues post devolution in F&HE
in the areas of:
student recruitment and retention;
institutional engagement with employers
on both sides of the border.
6. Devolution operates differently in different
areas. Institutional funding and student finance are devolved;
research is funded through the Science budget and employment is
co-ordinated by DWP. England and Wales have pursued policies to
meet their specific skills and economic goals. In F&HE, and
while there are many similarities, devolution has provided the
power for customisation and therefore increasing divergence.
7. HE student support policy in England
is delivered through the local authorities and the Student Loans
Company. Most student support functions were devolved to the Welsh
Assembly Government in 2006 and are similarly delivered by the
local authorities in Wales and the SLC.
8. Formal liaison on student finance exists
through the Quadrilateral meetings between DIUS officials and
the Devolved Administrations. Meetings are held three times a
year, to discuss areas of overlap and mutual interest in relation
to Higher Education Student finance, including governance, funding
and capacity of the SLC. The role of Chair is rotated between
the four countries. DIUS also co-ordinates the Key Performance
Indicators agreed by each Administration with the SLC. In addition,
there is informal liaison between officials to share policy decisions
on the student support package and protocols regarding communications
9. The UK is treated as one nation in the
European Court, therefore elements of student finance relating
to EU students and UK residency are not devolved. All four UK
countries have to agree to the same provisions. DIUS leads on
this and works with colleagues in the Devolved Administrations
to secure agreement when changes are required. Other mechanisms
are established for collaboration and consultation to deal with
specific issues as they arise. eg consultation with the Welsh
Assembly Government on the proposals for the Sale of Student Loan
Debt Bill, currently going through Parliament.
10. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC)
has responsibility for the planning, commission and funding of
post-16 education and training (excluding HE) in England. The
LSC delivers in line with its annual Grant Letter from the Secretary
of State. The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) plans and commissions
FE in Wales. The LSC has regular contact with all DAs on a range
of different policy areas. For example, on FE learner support,
the LSC has regular contact with all DAs every six months at which
they discuss policy; and they also have ad hoc informal contact
with their Welsh counterparts.
11. DIUS and the LSC liaise with the Devolved
Administrations on policy areas that have UK wide implications
ie the 14-19 agenda, qualifications reforms and the implementation
of the Leitch reform, where both countries are developing similar
policies, but targeted to their particular needs. The establishment
of Lifelong Learning Networks (LLNs) which promote progression
from further education to higher education have supported access
to and provision of, cross-border programmes.
12. UK-wide responsibility for science and
research through the seven Research Councils rests with DIUS.
Institutional funding generally is devolved; and since the Further
and Higher Education Act 1992, has been through each of the four
UK Funding bodies. In England, the Higher Education Funding Council
for England (HEFCE) and in Wales the Higher Education Funding
Council for Wales (HEFCW). The section on research funding in
this Memorandum outlines the system of research funding in the
UK which operates in partnership with the UK Funding Bodies, the
Research Councils and a range of collaborative initiatives. However,
the funding of research follows the "Haldane principle"
and it is appropriate for DIUS to be involved in strategic decisions
about support for science through the annual Grant Letter to HEFCE,
but not in decisions about support to individual projects.
13. One of the key components of the Government
Public Service Reform is that "Devolution and delegation
to the front line is required to design and deliver effective
services". The devolution of education and skills is a part
of this wider Government strategy. In many areas similar policies
and products exist but differ in the way they are applied.
14. The Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
publicise and market their course provision. The applications
process for full time undergraduates is managed on a UK-wide basis
by the Universities and Colleges Admissions System (UCAS).
15. Since 2003, acceptances from students
domiciled in England to UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
have risen by 10.8%. However there was a large increase to 301,798
in 2005 (from 277,079 in 2004), followed by a fall in 2006 to
289,229. The size of the increase in 2005 and subsequent fall
in 2006 is generally agreed to have been mainly due to a proportion
of students seeking to gain places at HEIs prior to the introduction
of variable fees in 2006.
16. There has been a large increase in numbers
of full time undergraduates in 2007 to 307,000, the highest ever.
Early indication from UCAS data for 2008-09 indicates a continued
rise in numbers. The evidence does not suggest students are being
put off by the introduction of variable tuition fees in 2006-07
as many predicted.
17. The numbers of students from Wales attending
full time undergraduate courses in the UK has been rising steadily
over the same period: from 16,276 in 2003 to 17,366 in 2007an
overall increase of 6.7%.
Cross border flows
18. In 2007-08, 8,483 English applicants
were accepted to Welsh HEIs. Whilst this outnumbers the Welsh
domiciled students in English HEIs it represents a smaller proportion
(3%) of the total number of English students studying anywhere
in the UK. 96% of students from England study in England. This
has remained a fairly constant proportion.
19. By comparison 5,306 (31%) of Welsh domiciled
undergraduates accepted places at English HEIs in 2007. The numbers
of Welsh domiciled students studying in England has fallen since
2006 while those staying in Wales have increased from 60% to 69%
between 2003 and 2007. The reasons for students' choice of study
are complex and influenced by a range of factors. However the
introduction by the Welsh Assembly of a fee grant in 2007 to offset
the introduction of the increased fees in Welsh HEIs for Welsh
students studying in Wales is likely to be a significant factor
in the decrease in students going elsewhere in the UK. This is
a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. DIUS does not see
any negative issues in the current patterns of study, but would
certainly want to keep an eye on any significant trends in the
20. The flow between England and Wales is
much greater than from either country to Scotland or Northern
21. Student retention rates in the UK compare
very well internationally. The UK ranks 5th 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 is totally committed to providing
opportunities for all people to achieve their potential and to
maximise their talent.
22. In 2005-06, the completion rate of 78%
in HEIs in England was slightly higher than at HEIs in Wales,
77%. Fewer students from English HEIs leave university without
any award (14%), compared with 16% in Welsh universities. Retention
rates by country of domicile are not available.
23. These latest figures are before the
introduction of variable fees in England in 2006-07 and (the increased
tuition fee rate) in Wales from 2007-08. Failure to complete degree
courses is triggered by a range of factors including financial,
academic and personal reasons. The Government welcomes measures
that HEIs and partners put in place to support students experiencing
difficulties which might affect the successful completion of their
24. Widening participation in higher education
and fair access are key elements of the Government's strategy.
Following the 2003 HE White Paper: "The Future of Higher
Education" Aimhigher became operative as a national outreach
programme in August 2004, working most intensively in disadvantaged
areas, to increase the number of young people who have the abilities,
qualifications and aspirations to benefit from HE.
25. Aimhigher works alongside other measures
to widen participation, such as HEFCE's widening participation
allocation, the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), and the maintenance
grant for students from poorer backgrounds. In 2007, Ministers
announced that Aimhigher would continue until at least 2011.
26. The evidence shows that young people
from disadvantaged backgrounds are getting more places. Latest
published UCAS figures show that for those applicants aged 18
or under from England, the proportion who are from the lower four
socio-economic groups has risen from 28.7% to 29.4% in 2007-08.
27. Reaching Higher is the Welsh Assembly
Government's 10 year strategy for a competitive and sustainable
higher education sector in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government
has a target in conjunction with HEFCW to work the Communities
First areas (of greatest disadvantage) to widen access to higher
education. Welsh colleagues report that the success of their policy,
with a growing number of people from the Communities First areas
accessing higher education.
Part time students
28. The number of students in England who
are undertaking part-time undergraduate courses rose from 313,045
in 1997-98 to 420,195 in 2005-06 (an increase of 34% over the
period). HEIs are increasingly offering greater flexibility in
the mode of study. Recent research commissioned by DIUS showed
that working adults hold a generally positive attitude towards
HE and 30% would consider applying to university if the circumstances
were right. (University is Not Just for Young People: Working
Adults' Perceptions of and Orientation to Higher Education).
29. 70% of the 2020 workforce is already
beyond the age of compulsory education. To achieve the ambitions
of the Leitch review to develop world class skills means we need
to develop higher skill levels amongst the current workforce.
The traditional full-time university attendance model is not likely
to attract either employees or employers because of the time needed
away from work, family and the costs involved. Therefore in future
part-time study will play an increasing part in achieving the
Leitch ambitions by flexible techniques such as bite-sized learning
opportunities, flexible timetables and innovative teaching approaches
such as e-learning and learning in the workplace.
30. Latest figures available show that in
2006-07 of 454,315 English domiciled part time undergraduate students
studying in the UK 6,125 (13.5%) attended HEIs in Wales. (Figures
based on a HESA Standard Registration Population basis).
Adult Student Recruitment and Retention
31. Provision for adults and employers operates
on more of a demand led basis, where funding follows the learner.
(14-19 provision is covered in paragraphs 133-147.)
32. The FE sector includes a number of different
types of colleges: General FE; Sixth Form; Agriculture and Horticulture;
Art, Design and Performing Arts and Specialist and Tertiary Colleges.
In the academic year 2006-07 these totalled 378, with 199 falling
in the General FE category. The number of learners aged 19 and
over in General and Tertiary FE Colleges in 2006-07 was 2,060,600.
33. The outcome of learners in FE is measured
in terms of retention (the number of starters who complete their
programme of learning); achievement (the number of completers
who achieve their qualification aim; and success (numbers of starters
who achieve their qualification aim). The LSC sets targets for
colleges by type and by level.
34. In 2006-07 the average rates for retention
(87%), achievement (89%) and success (78%) were similar to 2005-06.
The LSC learner surveys do not differentiate learners' country
of origin within the UK so it is not possible to analyse participation
and outcomes in relation to learners from Wales against those
Cross border flows
35. There is some localised data which suggests,
as we would expect, that cross border study is likely to be significant
in some border counties. Data from the Hereford and Worcestershire
Lifelong Learning Network show:
at March 2008 there were 745 Welsh
students studying FE or HE in English institutions;
Hereford College of Technology having
the most (460), followed by University of Worcester (139) and
Hereford Sixth Form College (87); and
the remaining institutions had much
36. This is a snapshot from one area, but
generally, we have not identified any particular issues in this
area in relation to those living on or near the Welsh border.
37. Finance should not be a barrier to taking
a higher education course. Since 2006-07 universities in England
can charge full time tuition fees up to an agreed cap (£3,145
in 2008-09); but no student or their parents have to find their
tuition fees either before or during their studies. The student
finance package is designed to ensure that all those who have
the ability and wish to go on to higher education can do so and
that those from low income backgrounds get the help they need.
38. The support package is based on a combination
of grants and loans. The total estimated cost in 2007-08 is: grants
£918 million; and maintenance and tuition fee loans £903
39. Broadly speaking England and Wales currently
have the same eligibility rules, based on residency, immigration
and nationality criteria. Students apply to their country of ordinary
residence for their student support package, wherever in the UK
they choose to study.
40. Currently eligibility checks and assessment
of applications are undertaken by the local authorities and the
Full time student support
41. There are four main elements for Students
entering HE on/after 1 September 2006:
1. Fee loan: to meet full costs of variable
feesup to £3,145. This is available to all eligible
students and is paid direct to the HEI.
2. Maintenance loan: 3 rates depending
on where they are studying. (25% is subject to means-test).
3. Maintenance grants (re-introduced
in 2006-07): up to £2,835 in 2008-09.
(i) New entrants in 2008-09: Full amount
available to those with household incomes up to £25,000,
partial grants for household income of £60,005.
(ii) New entrants in 2006-07 or 2007-08:
full amount available to those with household incomes up to £18,360,
partial grants up to household income of £39,305.
4. Extra targeted support:
(i) Disabled student allowances(non
means tested) are available to help meet the additional costs
of study incurred by disabled students.
(ii) Child care grant(means tested)
annual maximum for one child is £7,735 and for two or more
(iii) Adult dependent grant(means
tested) worth up to £2,510 (£2,575 in 2008-09).
(iv) Parents Learning Allowance(means
tested) worth up to £1,435 (£1,470 in 2008-09).
42. In addition a minimum university bursary
of £310 (in 2008-09) is available to students in receipt
of the full maintenance grant and who have taken out a maintenance
loan from the SLC. Universities who wish to charge the variable
fee produce an Access Agreement, which outlines its bursary structure
and has to be approved by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). Most
universities offer more than the minimum amount and also have
a range of other bursaries based on different criteria.
43. Students may also apply for support
from the Access to Learning Fund, a university-administered fund
for students experiencing financial hardship. Student parents
may also be eligible to receive Child Tax Credit from the Inland
Support in Wales
44. Currently there are two main differences
between England and Wales. The first is the introduction in Wales
in 2007-08 of a tuition fee grant of (£1,890 in 2008-09)
that only Welsh students studying in Wales receive. This was introduced
in 2007-08 along with the increase in their tuition fees to the
England cap. This is aimed at encouraging more Welsh students
to study in Wales.
45. The second is that the increased income
thresholds for the maintenance grants, which will come into effect
for English students studying anywhere in the UK in 2008-09 will
not be applicable in Wales. The income thresholds for all students
in Wales have been uprated for inflation only and will be at the
same levels as English students starting their course in 2006-07
46. There are two future improvements in
the English student support package which the Welsh Assembly is
not proposing to follow. The first is that English domiciled students
that receive an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) will in
the future be given a guarantee of the support available to them
if they choose to proceed into higher education.
47. The second is that students who take
out their first loan in or after September 2008, and enter repayment
in or after April 2012, will be eligible for a "repayment
holiday"; and will have the choice of putting their student
loan repayments on hold for up to five years. This will be of
benefit to graduates at times of particular need, for example
when buying a property or starting a family.
Take Up Rates
48. In the 2006-07 academic year 33% of
English domiciled students applying for some form of support received
full Maintenance Grants, 23% received partial grants, 43% received
no grant. In the same year 33% of Welsh domiciled students received
a full Assembly Learning Grant, 29% a partial grant, 38% no grant.
49. The Government wants to ensure that
all students eligible for a maintenance grant apply for one. DIUS
officials have worked with the SLC, the Office for Fair Access,
HEIs and the National Union of Students to increase take-up. One
measure has been a change in the student support application form
requiring applicants to "opt out" of data sharing information
about household income in order that the SLC may follow up cases
and to enable the HEIs to contact eligible students who do not
apply for a Bursary.
50. Provisional 2006-07 figures show that
the average maintenance loan taken out by new entrants in that
year was £3,360 for English domiciled, £3,210 for Welsh
domiciled. The average tuition fee loan was £2,730 for English
domiciled, and £1,720 for Welsh domiciled.
51. Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) loans
replaced the mortgage style loans for students taking out a Government
student loan for the first time in September 1998. ICR currently
operates the same way across England and Wales. Repayment is partially
reserved and administered on behalf of the four UK Administrations
by the SLC and HMRC through the PAYE or Self Assessment Tax system.
52. Repayment starts the April after borrowers
finish (or leave) their course and in any month that their salary
exceeds £1,250 gross per month (£288 per week or £15,000
per annum equivalent). Repayments are collected at the rate of
9% of any income over the threshold. These arrangements are the
same in England and Wales.
Part time students
53. In England and Wales, part-time undergraduate
students who take less than twice as long as their full-time equivalents
to complete their course are able to apply for a means-tested
Fee Grant and a Course Grant to assist with course related costs.
54. In addition to HEIs' own marketing information,
DIUS publishes a yearly guide entitled "Guide to financial
support for part-time students in higher education" which
is specifically tailored for people considering part-time study.
55. In 2008-09 part-time students will be
able to apply for assistance with course related costs worth up
to £255 in England (£1,050 in Wales) a year on top of
the fee grant.
56. In 2008-09 there will be three different
rates of fee grant depending on the intensity of the course. The
total amount that can be awarded to a Welsh-domiciled student,
depending on his/her individual circumstances is potentially greater
than that available to English-domiciled counterparts (subject
to eligibility of additional targeted support). Part time disabled
students in both countries have access to individually assessed
Disabled Students' Allowance.
Targeted Grants (in Wales)
57. From September 2008 eligible part-time,
Welsh-domiciled students will also be able to access targeted
support which is currently available only to full time undergraduates;
this will be provided through a pro-rated version (reflecting
intensity of study) of the Childcare Grant, Adult Dependants'
Grant, and Parents' Learning Allowance. Part time students in
England are not eligible for targeted support other than the Disabled
Student Income and Expenditure Survey (SIES)
58. The SIES is a periodic survey of full
and part time student income and expenditure survey, debt, savings
and financial hardship and a range of personal information which
enabled an overall assessment to be made of the experiences of
students with different characteristics and backgrounds. The last
survey was in 2004-05 and was jointly commissioned by DIUS and
the Welsh Assembly Government. The numbers of Welsh students interviewed
was small (300 out of the total 3,700 in 2004-07).
59. The sample for the 2007-08 survey has
been extended to include a larger number of Welsh students around700.
As a result it should be possible to make an improved assessment
of the financial circumstances of Welsh domiciled students who
study in England or Wales. The final report will be published
in early 2009.
Administration of Student FinanceThe Student
Loans Company (SLC)
60. Currently, the SLC administration of
Student Finance Wales differs from the Student Finance England
service in the following ways.
61. SLC administers both FE and HE student
finance in Wales. This enables an easier transition into higher
education. (For example, HE students do not have to re-evidence
their personal identities when they apply to higher education
if they have already done so).
62. The discretionary service SLC provides
to universities for the administration of bursaries works in the
same way across Wales and England, except that Wales partially
fund the on-going service costs and there is some use of the national
support service for publicising Welsh university bursaries.
63. All customer-facing services in Wales
are provided in both English and Welsh languages.
64. Following a wide ranging end to end
review of the Student Finance in England in 2005, Ministers agreed
to a major change programme to transform the Student Finance system.
65. From September 2009 the SLC will take
responsibility for the delivery of the total student finance system
in England. Local authorities' role will be phased out as they
no longer have responsibility of the assessment of new students.
The development of Customer First is on the agenda of the Quadrilateral
meetings and DIUS and the Devolved Authorities will monitor progress.
Student Finance Information
66. DIUS is committed to deliver the right
message to the right people at the right time. To ensure we deliver
on this objective an annual Communications strategy and Delivery
Plan is developed with and agreed by Ministers. DIUS fully utilise
the directgov website for all our "e-comms". A multi
media campaign on the new student finance package was launched
in October 2007.
67. When providing Student Finance information
in England, detail on the charges made by Welsh, Scottish and
Northern Ireland institutions is included. This is important to
students in England who may wish to study there.
68. Plans for advertising campaigns and
general dissemination of student finance information is shared
with the Devolved Administrations via the Quadrilateral meetings.
Since devolution of student finance arrangements to Wales, DIUS
continues to hold informal meetings with communications colleagues
69. There is mutual agreement that cross
border communications should be avoided. We work hard to ensure
this and brief our contractors and delivery partners. However
there is an inevitable risk of cross border information, (for
instance, when using radio and TV advertising). On an operational
level, we like to know what each other is doing, to prevent nationwide
campaigns running simultaneously.
70. Communications are subject to a programme
of research and evaluation to ensure our messages are delivered
effectively. Findings feed into future campaigns. 2006-07 findings
show that: 86% of students and 79% of parents understand that
financial help is available; and 77% of students and 78% of parents
understand that repayment is income contingent and know the repayment
Sale of Loans Bill
71. The Government is currently taking a
Bill through Parliament which will give it the power to sell some
of the student loans book. This is not a privatisation, but will
enable a programme of sales of the student loan book, in order
to transfer the risk associated with ownership of a large and
growing asset from the public sector to the private sector. Monies
gained from any sales of the Loan Book are expected to transfer
to the Treasury.
72. The sale of student loans will make
no difference to the terms and conditions for individual borrowers.
Repayment rates and thresholds will remain the same for all loans,
whether sold or unsold. The loan system will continue to be administered
by the SLC.
73. Following engagement with Welsh colleagues
by DIUS officials the Bill will include a clause that will give
Welsh Ministers enabling powers to sell loans (for which they
are already responsible) when they deem it appropriate to use
these powers. It is anticipated that the Bill will receive Royal
Assent in July.
74. We are aware that the Welsh Assembly
Government is undertaking a review of its student finance system.
DIUS is pleased to assist and officials will be meeting with the
75. Financial support for learners in further
education is intended to overcome financial barriers to learning
which otherwise might discourage people from taking up learning.
76. The LSC has reciprocal arrangements
with the funding councils for Wales and for colleges and providers
close to the borders. However, it is not expected that colleges
and providers in England will recruit entire groups of learners
from outside their local area. Such learners should be referred
to the possibility of a distance learning or Ufi programme delivered
by their local provider or hub in Wales or Scotland. If the learning
programme is not available through this route, permission to enrol
the learners must be sought from the provider's LSC partnership
77. In England, there are three main programmes
of Government sponsored financial support for adults engaging
in non HE based learning, which are in addition to the level 2
or level 3 entitlement and any relief from course fees that may
be applied initially by further education providers:
discretionary Learner Support Funds.
Career Development Loan.
discretionary Learner Support Funds (dLSF)
78. dLSFs are the main source of financial
support for students in further education who need help with additional
costs associated with their learning such as books, travel and
childcare. Funds are allocated to colleges and targeted at those
experiencing the greatest financial difficulty and in priority
groups such as low skilled and low income individuals.
79. Reciprocal arrangements exist between
Wales and England, so that Welsh students attending colleges in
England would be eligible to receive dLSF; this is true also for
English students attending Welsh FE institutions.
Adult Learning Grant (ALG)
80. ALG is specifically aimed at those on
low incomes undertaking full time learning and is not available
to those who are on "out of work" benefits. It is intended
to boost participation and improve retention.
81. It offers up to £30pw to adults
on low incomes studying full-time and undertaking their first
full level 2 or level 3 qualifications. It is available for up
to two years but can be extended to three years for learners progressing
from level 2 to level 3.
82. To be eligible for the grant, learners
must have been resident in England for three years prior to starting
their course. Welsh learners, studying in England, who meet the
residency criteria are eligible to apply. However, discussions
with colleagues in the Welsh Assembly (Student Finance Division,
Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning & Skills)
have confirmed that it would be difficult to set up any reciprocal
arrangements as an equivalent (or even similar) scheme to ALG
does not exist in Wales.
83. 16 learners have been rejected on the
grounds of being resident in Wales (to March 08).
Career Development Loans (CDLs)
84. CDLs is a Britain wide Government subsidised
programme which operates fully in Wales. CDLs were set up in 1988
and provide interest-deferred bank loans to help individuals finance
vocational learning of their choice. The programme aims to: increase
the numbers undertaking vocational learning; encourage more individuals
to take responsibility for their own learning; and encourage financial
institutions to view learning as an investment worthy of a loan.
85. 3.8% of CDL learners are undertaking
learning with learning providers based in Wales. This equates
to £2,705,241 in loans. In 2007/08, 295 new loans were issued
to learners with Wales-based learning providers. The total value
of loans for these learners was £1,817,153. 3.6% of the total
defaults for 2007-08 are attributable to learners with Wales-based
providers with a value of £674,406.
Sixth Form College Childcare Scheme
86. There is also the Sixth Form College
Childcare Scheme which offers help to learners aged 20 or over
in school sixth forms and sixth form colleges, who incur essential
childcare costs whilst attending their course. Payments are income
assessed and the maximum amount payable to cover childcare and
associated travel costs is £155 per week per child. Eligibility
requires that learners must be attending a full-time or a part-time
LSC funded course, be ordinarily resident in England and have
a dependent child under 15 years of age (16 for children with
disabilities) for whom the learner provides care.
87. The place of study must be in England
and the learner must be "ordinarily resident in England".
However, this does not preclude a Welsh learner from applying
if they are studying in England and such applications would be
considered on a case by case basis. No such applications have
been received. There is no similar scheme in Wales and no reciprocal
arrangements exist. We do not have any data on numbers of Welsh
students who have been refused help on the grounds of their residency.
88. Pursuing global excellence in research
and knowledge; accelerating the commercial exploitation of creativity
and knowledge and encouraging better use of science in Government
are three of DIUS's Strategic objectives. Research in England
is of high quality. In the last Research Assessment Exercise,
over half of the departments were rated 5 or 5*. And at UK level,
the research base is second in the world, behind the United States.
There is much to build on.
89. Research in UK universities is funded
by means of the dual support system. One stream is through Quality
Related (QR) funding from the UK Funding Bodies and the second
is through the 7 Research Councils.
Quality Related Research
90. QR funding by the relevant UK Funding
Bodies is based on the periodic Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)
and provides core funding to support research infrastructure and
build capacity for HEIs' own determined and "blue skies"
research. HEFCE QR research funding for 2008-09 is £1,460
million. HEFCW QR funding for research is £67.3 million.
91. The Government announced in March 2006
its intention to replace the RAE after 2008 with an assessment
system based on metrics. Following consultation HEFCE is working
with the other UK Funding Bodies and partners to develop these
new arrangementsthe Research Excellence Framework (REF).
The REF will be introduced after the 2008 Research Assessment
92. The REF will be developed as a single
unified framework for the UK throughout 2008 and 2009. Aspects
of the framework will be phased in from 2011-12, and it will fully
drive research funding for all disciplines from 2014. It will
make greater use of quantitative indicators in the assessment
of research quality than the present system, while taking account
of key differences between the different disciplines. Assessment
will combine quantitative indicatorsincluding bibliometric
indicators wherever these are appropriateand light-touch
93. The second stream of funding is through
the seven Research Councils which operate on a UK wide basis.
The newest Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council,
was established though the Higher Education Act, 2004, bringing
together smaller bodies in the four Administrations. DIUS provides
funding to the Research Councils through the Science Budget. Its
role is to oversee the Research Councils in undertaking the funding
of high quality research against the priorities agreed in each
Council's Delivery Plan. The Research Councils then consult with
their communities on areas of research that are important.
94. The Research Councils invest around
£3 billion in research each year covering the full spectrum
of academic disciplines. There is no specific regional allocation.
Research Councils all have different mechanisms for allotting
funding, but they work together and discuss strategy on areas
that cross Council remits. Many activities are undertaken collectively.
95. In 2006-07 around £1,627,189k (83%)
of Research Council funding to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
was awarded to HEIs in England and £54,308k (3%) to HEIs
96. In addition to funding research in universities,
three of the Research Councils (Biotechnical and Biological Sciences
Research Council, Medical Research Council and the Natural Environment
Research Council) also support their own research institutes,
some of which are based in Wales.
97. Research Councils also fund postgraduates
in universities. This is either through a block grant to the universities
who allocate the individual grants or through direct competitive
Collaboration and UK wide initiatives
98. Research Councils are pursuing a strong
"economic impact" agenda, to increase the impact of
the research that they fund. Existing knowledge transfer programmes
are part of this but the economic impact agenda is broader. Research
Councils fund research across the UK, and this will affect how
the university research communities consider economic impact.
99. Universities in both England and Wales
and the Research Councils are also actively involved in European
Research initiatives and secure funding for EU collaborative research
with a range of partners in the UK and Europe.
100. In February 2005 HEFCE announced specific
funding to support innovative strategic research collaboration
between HEIs where this was likely to improve strength, quality
and responsiveness of the national research base; and where partners
had a commitment to sustained strategically-driven collaboration.
101. The funding aims to support innovative,
leading-edge work that will carry forward work in the discipline(s)
on the national or international scene. It supports collaboration
by HEIs in England with other HEIs within the dual support system
across the UK.
102. HEFCW participates in a number of UK
wide initiatives to support national research and facilities.
For example they are co-funders with the other HE Funding Bodies
of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). JISC supports
education and research by promoting innovation in new technologies
and by the central support of ICT services. It develops partnerships
to enable the UK education and research communities to engage
in national and global collaborations to overcome the challenges
of delivering world-class ICT solutions and services.
103. The DIUS led UK Funders' Forum comprises
the key funders of research in the UK and includes: representatives
from the Research Councils; Government Departments and Devolved
Administrations; charities; Regional Development Agencies and
HEIs. Its role is to share and agree strategies for ensuring the
sustainability of the research base and high quality research.
Research Capital Investment Fund (RCIF)
104. The Research Capital Investment Fund
(RCIF) and its predecessor the Science Research Investment Fund
(SRIF) have since 2002 addressed underinvestment in research capital.
The earlier SRIF fund was a temporary fund designed to reduce
the backlog of underinvestment. With that backlog now reduced
to manageable levels, the new RCIF is a permanent funding stream
to provide ongoing funding for research capital.
105. RCIF is made up of a combination of
funding from the DIUS Science Budget across the UK, and funding
from the separate national HE budgets (including DIUS for England
and the Welsh Assembly Government in Wales), and is managed by
the respective funding body. RCIF is allocated by formula. The
Science Budget element is calculated on the basis of Research
Council research income, the HE budget formulae are slightly different,
but take into account funding council block grants for research
and external research funding eg from charities and business.
106. For the Spending Review period 2008-11
the total RCIF (science budget and HE budget combined) for English
HEIs is £1,276 million; and the budget for Welsh HEIs is
107. While there has been active work to
promote greater contact between HEIs and employers, DIUS' work
and policies relate to England only. DIUS works through a range
of partners eg HEFCE, Universities UK; the Sector Skills Councils,
the Confederation of British Industries etc. to drive forward
the need for greater contact between both organisations.
108. One example between HE and employers,
is through the HEFCE Strategic Development Fund, which is supporting
HEI-led "employer co-funding" (ECF) pilot projects.
Employers are being encouraged to fund and help design high level
skills provision for their workforce to meet their business needs.
To date some 29 HEIs are undertaking ECF projectsincluding
the universities of Hertfordshire, Chester and Coventry. More
are in the pipeline. These projects are looking at a number of
practical issues around delivering employer co-funding. The HEFCE
grant letter allocated £5/15/40 million to support 5/10/20
thousand employer co-funded places over 2008 to 2011.
109. We recently published "Higher
Education at WorkHigh Skills: High value", a consultation
document, which describes a strategy to achieve growth in high
level skills (level 4 and above) set by Lord Leitch. The consultation
was launched on 14 April 2008, by the Minister of State for Lifelong
Learning, Further and Higher Education; and it focuses on our
aims to raise the skills and capacity for innovation and enterprise
of those already in the workforce and to improve the employability
of graduates. The document proposes some changes and consults
all those involved about what the barriers are from their perspective
and what can be done to remove them. Further information can be
found at:www.dius.gov.uk/consultations/. The Devolved Administrations
were consulted and were sent draft copies of the published strategy.
110. DIUS works closely with policy colleagues
on the Commission for Employment and Skills, Sector Skills Councils
which has a UK wide remit.
University Knowledge Transfer
111. The Government encourages universities
to undertake knowledge transfer with business, public services
and third sector organisations. The Higher Education Innovation
Fund (HEIF) is the main policy intervention in England, to enable
universities to build their capacity to engage with business and
commercialise research, through collaboration, consultancy and
contract research, use of facilities, continuous professional
development and generation of Intellectual Property income.
112. HEIF is allocated by formula to all
universities in England. The size of the allocation is related
to student numbers and business income. This DIUS budget will
increase to £150 million per annum by the end of the current
CSR and is managed by HEFCE. HEIF helps English universities to
work with business but it is not restricted to working with English
113. The Higher Education Funding Council
for Wales have a separate "Third Mission Fund", and
£6.1 million was allocated to Welsh Universities to build
their capacity to engage with business.
Technology Strategy Board
114. The Technology Strategy Board (TSB)
remit covers the whole of the UK. It aims to make the UK a global
leader in innovation. With a business-led board and a business
focus, the Technology Strategy Board has been established to play
a cross-Government role, advising on polices which relate to technology
innovation and knowledge transfer and in delivering a national
Technology Strategy. Its activities include support for business-knowledge
base interactions through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and
Collaborative Research and Development alongside opportunities
for networking through Knowledge Transfer Networks, which are
established in a specific field of technology or business application.
115. Working with the Regional Development
Agencies (RDAs) and the Research Councils, it will jointly invest
over £1 billion in the next three years around three themes:
challenge-led innovation, technology-inspired innovation and the
innovation climate. In addition, it will continue to work with
government departments, the Devolved Administrations and other
funding partners to increase the overall total.
116. The Devolved Administrations are working
with the Technology Strategy Board on a number of activities,
including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and jointly funded Collaborative
R&D projects where the DAs have, since 2004, provided over
£6.7 million (WAG £4.5 million, NI £1.8 million,
Scottish Govt £0.4 million) of funding. Work is underway
to further strengthen the national-regional interface.
117. David Grant, Vice Chancellor of Cardiff
University, is a member of the Technology Strategy Board's Governing
Board and has a role of representing the Devolved Administrations.
A Strategic Advisory Group and an Operational Advisory Group support
the work of the TSBboth include representatives from the
English regions and Devolved Administrations and the RDAs.
Higher Education Business and Community Interaction
118. The Higher Education Business and Community
Interaction Survey is a UK survey process managed by HEFCE on
behalf of all the UK funding bodies for common reasons of efficiency
and benchmarking. The data are collected together but funding
decisions are very much at the national level. HEFCW have been
on the steering group for the HE-BCI since its inception.
119. We are committed to Foundation degrees
(Fds) as a key vehicle for expansion in Higher Educationthey
are an example of the type of flexible work-focused and demand-led
qualifications that Lord Leitch calls for. Courses are developed
in partnership with employers to ensure graduates acquire the
necessary skills and knowledge required in the workplace. The
qualification attracts a range of people who wouldn't normally
consider taking up HE.
120. Foundation Degrees Forward (fdf)
was established in 2003 and is funded by the Higher Education
Funding Council for England and the Department for Employment
and Learning in Northern Ireland in order to generate and support
employer engagement strategies across higher education, with a
particular focus on Foundation degrees. fdf initiatives
include employer-based training accreditation and the establishment
of employer consortia to develop national employer-led Foundation
degrees for specific sectors.
121. Numerous institutions in Wales have
sought advice and support from fdf in developing Foundation
degree provision and have expressed interest in becoming involved
with initiatives such as employer consortia. fdf has, where
possible, provided consultancy and linked Welsh institutions with
existing initiatives. For example, fdf has supported a
creative and cultural industries project at the University of
Glamorgan by linking it with an initiative in the North West of
England. fdf are also facilitating the involvement of a
Welsh employer organisation in the development of Foundation degrees
for the heritage sector.
122. At December 2007 some 73,000 people
had enrolled on a Fd in England. We are well placed to see further
increases in order to meet our aspiration of a 100,000 Fds enrolments
participation rate by 2010. The Further Education and Training
Act 2007 allows FE colleges in England to apply for powers to
be able to award Fds. FE colleges in Wales are not covered by
Further Education Engagement with Employers
123. The UK Commission for Employment and
Skills was launched on 1 April 2008 to assess UK progress towards
achieving world class skills and an 80% employment rate. It is
jointly sponsored by BERR, DCSF, DIUS, DWP and the Devolved Administrations.
124. DIUS and the Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP) are committed to working together to deliver an
integrated employment and skills service. However, skills is a
devolved matter in Scotland and Wales and as such DIUS' responsibility
only extends to skills provision in England. Employment is a reserved
matter and DWP has responsibility for employment and welfare provision
across the whole of Great Britain. Therefore, DWP is working closely
with the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Executive
to ensure that its employment provision dovetails with the skills
provision decided upon by the Devolved Administrations. (Both
employment and skills are devolved matters in Northern Ireland.)
125. In England the main initiatives are
Train to Gain and the Employers Skills Pledge. The local LSC office
has signed up with other local and regional stakeholders to developing
a Cross Border Memorandum of Co-operation with the Welsh Border
Counties. This has been led by the West Midlands Rural Affairs
Forum, where the initial focus has been on tourism.
126. On 12 June DIUS and the Department
for Work and Pensions published the "Work Skills" Command
Paper which outlined initiatives to increase skills including
the extension of Skills Accounts.
Train to Gain
127. Train to Gain is delivered by the Learning
and Skills Council. It is central to the delivery of the Government's
skills ambitions. The aim of Train to Gain is to ensure that the
workforce in England has the world-class skills to help the UK
be a leader in the global economy in 2020. It aims to encourage
employers to invest in the development of the skills and qualifications
of their employees.
128. Train to Gain is the Government's premier
service to support employers in England, of all sizes and in all
sectors, to improve the skills of their employees, unlock talent
and drive improved business performance. It is designed as a flexible
service to meet the needs of employers and their employees. All
employees, irrespective of age, are included in a discussion between
a Train to Gain skills broker and the employer.
129. Train to Gain is already a great success.
By March 2008since national roll-out began from April 2006Train
to Gain had:
engaged with 92,210 employers (37,470
since August 2007);
supported 454,920 learners to begin
learning programmes; and
delivered 186,720 full level 2 achievements.
Cross Border Issues
130. Wales has its own Workforce Development
Programme and its own funding stream therefore employers and learners
who are based in Wales are not generally eligible for support
through Train to Gain.
131. The employer or place of employment
must be in England. Practically this means that a Welsh person
can be funded provided they are working for an English employer
or are working in England. However just having a Head Office in
England is not a sufficiently strong link to attract Train to
Gain fundingwhere the employee lives and works only in
Wales for a Welsh subsidiary they would not be considered eligible.
132. Learners are requested to self declare
their "Country of Domicile" on the Individualised Learning
Record. This shows that in Train to Gain in 2006-07 there were
just over 320 Welsh learners and so far in 2007-08 (to period
8) there are almost 500.
Employers Skills Pledge
133. The Skills Pledge is a voluntary, public
commitment by the leadership of a company or organisation to support
all its employees to develop their basic skills, including literacy
and numeracy, and work towards relevant, valuable qualifications
to at least level 2 (equivalent to 5 good GCSEs). The purpose
is to ensure that all staff are skilled, competent and able to
make a full contribution to the success of the company/organisation.
The Skills Pledge is open to all employers in England, and access
is dependent on where the employing organisation's head office
134. The National Basic Skills Strategy
for Wales states it will ask the Basic Skills Agency to extend
their "Employers Pledge Scheme" into Wales. This scheme
is aimed at SMEs encouraging employers to show commitment to improving
basic skills of their employees and should not be confused with
the Skills Pledge in England which is about Skills for Life and
level 2 as a minimum.
135. Skills Accounts are a universal offer
for all adults from autumn 2010 following introduction in two
regions in 2008-09. We will offer accounts to 18 year olds alongside
a progressive roll out to working age adults, both those out-of-work
and in the workforce.
UK Vocational Qualifications Reform Programme
136. The UK Vocational Qualifications Reform
Programme was established in February 2006 to address weaknesses
in the vocational qualification system. It is supported by Ministers
in all four countries. It is being introduced by the governments
and qualifications regulators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland
and, to a lesser extent, Scotland; working with Sector Skills
Councils, awarding bodies, FE providers and various other stakeholders.
137. The commitment to reforming vocational
qualifications in the 2005 White Paper, was reaffirmed in World
Class Skills: Implementing the Leitch Review of Skills in England.
The aim is to create a VQ system that is more flexible and responsive
to learner and employer needs, more inclusive and less bureaucratic.
138. The key reform is the innovative introduction
of the world's first regulated and credit based system. In the
new framework for regulated qualificationsthe Qualifications
and Credit Framework (QCF)reformed qualifications will
be made up of units and learners will receive credit points for
the completion of each unit. Credit will be recorded onto a learner
achievement record, allowing achievements to be recognised and
transferred between employers, providers and awarding bodies.
Rational and consistent titles will greatly improve users' understanding
of the available VQs Learners will be able to see more readily
the progression opportunities of their VQs, including into Higher
139. The main change for employers is the
introduction of a range of ways in which their in-house training
can be accredited. Taken together, these changes mean that young
people and adults can choose a qualification which suits their
interests and learning style and allows them to prepare to make
success of their life.
140. We want an excellent system of 14-19
education; a system where all young people have opportunities
to learn in ways which motivate and engage them and through hard
work position themselves for success in life. 14-19 in England
is the responsibility of the Department for Children Schools and
Families (DCSF), whether young people are in school, FE or Sixth
Machinery of Government ChangesJune 2007
141. Following the creation of DCSF and
DIUS it became the policy of both Departments to replace the LSC:
putting 0-19 education and training funding and commissioning
in the hands of the local authority; and bringing education and
training provision together with responsibility for wider children
and young people's services.
142. Some of the main elements are:
Local authorities in England to lead
commissioning of 14-19 education and training, including school
Sixth Form and Sixth Form Colleges.
Sub regional clusters to plan and
Each FE provider with one commissioning
Designation system by the Secretary
of State when local authorities are ready; until then Young Person's
Learning Authority (YPLA) to lead and administer funding system
and monitor progress.
Framework set nationally, but decisions
on institutional funding made locally.
143. DCSF will legislate for this at the
earliest opportunity and are moving forward within the existing
legislative structures, with a new system fully in place, subject
to the passage of legislation, from September 2010.
144. The Government is transforming learning
for 14-19 year oldsworking with partners and with local
authorities, the Learning and Skills Council, schools, colleges
and work-related learning providers. The reforms have three main
raising attainment now;
designing new curriculum and qualifications;
delivering on the ground.
Education and Skills Bill
145. Through the Education and Skills Bill
in our forthcoming legislative programme we will transfer responsibility
for 14-19 provision from the LSC to the local authorities and
give them the funding and commissioning powers to effectively
deliver the new entitlements and raise the participation age.
This will streamline the post-19 skills system to make it better
support our policies of creating a demand-led system and integrating
employment and skills. This will make faster progress towards
our ambition of achieving a world class skills base by 2020.
146. We will raise the participation age
to 17 from September 2013 and to 18 from September 2015. We already
have a challenging aspiration to get to 90% participation in education
or work-based learning among 17 year olds, but we need to see
an acceleration in participation in education and work-based learning
at 16 and above in every area of the country if we are to achieve
this and put us in a good position to move to 100% participation.
147. This legislation will significantly
strengthen current adult funding entitlements for basic literacy
and numeracy skills, adult first full level 2 qualifications and
first full level 3 qualifications for learners aged between 19
and 25. These new provisions will contribute to dramatically driving
up demand for skills, enabling the UK to achieve world class skills
148. DCSF is currently consulting on a Qualifications
Strategy for 14-19 year olds that will streamline the offer: young
people will choose between GCSE/A level; Diplomas; Apprenticeshipsor
if working below this level, the Foundation Learning tier.
149. The Diploma is a new qualification
that combines theoretical study with practical experience. The
Diploma will cover 17 disciplines, including Engineering, Information
Technology, Science and Humanities. All require a student to achieve
a minimum standard in English, maths and ICT, complete a project
and so a minimum of 10 days work experience. Diploma students
will also acquire the skills and knowledge which are essential
for success in employment and higher education, both related to
the discipline and those which are common, like teamwork, self-management
and critical thinking skills. Schools and colleges in 146 areas
across England will offer the Diploma from September 2008. All
17 will be available in areas across the country by 2011.
150. As well as the Diploma, GCSEs and A
levels are being updated and the number of Apprenticeships is
being increased. We will establish apprenticeships as a key route
to building the national skills base, working with employers to
help young people and adults get the skills and qualifications
that employers value.
151. We set out our commitments on Apprenticeships
in "World Class Apprenticeships", which was published
in January this year. We are currently recruiting for the post
of National Apprenticeship Services Chief Executive. This is a
key step in establishing a new National Apprenticeship Service
which will lead on delivering the apprenticeship programme.
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
152. The EMA was introduced in England in
September 2004 to incentivise more 16-19 year olds to participate
and ensure that those from low-income families have the opportunity
to do so. Payments range from £10 to £30 a week depending
on household income and learners' compliance with their "contract".
Over 527,000 young people benefited from EMA payments in 2006-07.
153. EMA in England are administered by
the LSC and by the SLC for Wales. The schemes are similar in both
countries with some small differences. eg in 2008-09 the income
threshold in England will be maintained at the existing level,
but will be uprated by inflation in Wales.
154. The 14-19 Implementation Plan (2005)
made a commitment to offer, by the end of September, a suitable
place in post-16 learning to all young people completing compulsory
education. This is known as the September Guarantee. The guarantee
was implemented nationally in 2007. The guarantee has been extended
to 17 year olds in 2008 to give those who enrol on one year or
short courses, or who leave the activity they chose when leaving
school, further opportunities to engage in learning.
14-19 Reform in Wales
155. The Learning CountryVision
into Action set out the Welsh Government's vision for young
people in Wales. Consultation on the Learning and Skills (Wales)
Measure 2008 was launched in January and set out specific proposals
to give greater opportunities to young people for access to the
most appropriate form of learning in order to achieve the skills
required for further learning or employment. These reflect the
aims of the 14-19 agenda in England, but with measures tailored
for Wales. For instance, Wales have set a target of 93% of 16-18
year olds in education, employment or training and will not be
introducing compulsion or legislating to raise the leaving age.
Qualifications in Wales
156. The Welsh Baccalaureate was rolled
out in September 2007 with some 9,000 students studying across
76 schools. The qualification is gaining increasing recognition
157. Wales is working with the Sector Skills
Councils and awarding bodies to make appropriate modifications
to the Welsh Baccalaureate to incorporate the employer endorsed
element of the English 14-19 Diplomas.
158. Officials in England and Wales keep
each other informed. They will be monitoring the impact of the
different systems on pupils moving or seeking to learn across
159. At the time the HE Bill was going through
Parliament in 2003, the Government made a commitment that the
current arrangements for university tuition fees would be in place
till the end of the decade and there would be no change until
after a thorough independent review. Our position remains the
160. Further and Higher Education is a dynamic
sector. Each of the four UK Administrations faces major challenges
in the context of global competition and demographic changes.
Since Devolution while there have been some differences in the
arrangements in England and Wales. Overall, these do not appear
to have had a negative impact in the delivery and outcome for
learners in Further and Higher Education.
161. It is likely that over time policies
and systems will become more divergent as each country looks to
provide what best meets its needs. This will inevitably affect
student behaviour and the number and nature of cross-border engagement.
That is not unhealthy and convergence and co-ordination is not
always desirable nor indeed possible.
162. However, as each country develops its
future policies, it will become increasingly important to build
on some of the existing mechanisms to ensure continued early dialogue
and opportunities are established at all levels, to share, learn
and where appropriate consider where greater alignment is advantageous,
without undue bureaucracy.