To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her Department's definition is of higher education in the context of her Department's target for 50 per cent. of all 18 to 30-year-olds to experience higher education by 2010; and if she will make a statement.
The Government are committed to increasing and widening participation in higher education so that more young people benefit from the opportunities that higher education brings in terms of employability, earnings and quality of life. At the same time, we want to ensure that we meet the UK's needs for a highly skilled, competitive work force.
We measure participation in higher education by means of the Initial Entry Rate (IER). The IER includes all courses of one year or more, above A-level and its equivalents, which lead to a qualification awarded by higher education institutions or widely recognised national awarding bodies (eg. the Institute of Management).
We are also currently seeking advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority regarding a very small number of professional qualifications of less than one year's duration, for example in nursing, law, business and management. The QCA will advise us whether the nature and content of these qualifications could appropriately be classified as being of higher education standard.