Higher Education: Admissions

Innovation, Universities and Skills written question – answered on 1st February 2008.

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Photo of David Willetts David Willetts Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much has been spent through (a) Aimhigher, (b) bursaries paid out by universities from fee income, (c) the higher education funding councils and (d) other public spending on widening access to university in each year since 2001.

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

This Government remain fully committed to widening access to higher education for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Widening access requires long term investment and change across the higher education system. We have reformed student finance, reintroducing grants and raising the income threshold at which repayments start. No one is required to pay a contribution to their higher education up-front. These reforms, together with Aimhigher, have been instrumental in bringing about progress. The proportion of UK domiciled, young, full time, first degree entrants to English higher education institutions who were from lower socio-economic groups rose from 27.9 per cent. in 2002/03 to 29.1 per cent. in 2005/06.

Expenditure from 2001-02 to date on widening access is as follows:

£ million
2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08
Aimhigher and predecessors(1,2) 50 69.5 120 136 102 87 80
Regional Projects(3) 5 5
Student support(4) 1,213 1,096 1,084 1,195 1,405 1,622 1,887
Widening participation allocation(5) 37 48 266 273 284 345 356
University bursaries and outreach(6) 116 Not yet available
Total(7) 1,295 1,208.5 1,460 1,604 1,791 2,170 2,323
(1 )The unified Aimhigher programme was introduced in 2004. Predecessor programmes were Excellence Challenge, funded by the then Department for Education and Skills, and Partnerships for Progression, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Aimhigher is funded jointly by DIUS, HEFCE, the LSC and the Department of Health.

(2) Excellence Challenge included Opportunity Bursaries. These were grants to eligible people from lower income families and were worth £2,000 over three years. From September 2001, 26,000 such bursaries were made available at a total cost of £37 million. With the wider reintroduction of grants in 2006, the Opportunity Bursary scheme was withdrawn.

(3 )Funded by HEFCE

(4) Includes student loans 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.

(5) These figures also include the allocation to widen access and improve provision for disabled students.

(6) The Office for Fair Access forecasts that around £300 million annually will be spent by higher education providers on bursaries and scholarships benefiting students from low-income and other under-represented groups by the academic year 2008/09.

(7) In 2001-04, Aimhigher contributed £10 million a year towards the widening participation allocation. The figure given as the total for each of these years is therefore less than the sum of the parts to avoid double counting.

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