To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
(1) what research he has commissioned on the effect on the number of mature students in higher education of the Government's decision to remove limits on student numbers for those achieving grades AAB or above at A level; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what research he has commissioned on the effects on the number of black and ethnic minority students entering higher education of the Government's decision to remove the cap on student numbers for those achieving grades AAB or above at A level; and if he will make a statement.
The Higher Education White Paper, "Students at the Heart of the System" published in June this year, sets out clearly the importance the Government place on widening participation and improving fair access to higher education. We have been clear that all those with the ability should have access to higher education irrespective of their background or family income. Following the publication of the HE White Paper BIS Ministers wrote to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) setting out priorities for funding which includes the additional costs associated with attracting and retaining students from non-traditional backgrounds, and disabled students.
The impact of the proposed changes to student number controls that were outlined in the HE White Paper were assessed in the HE White Paper Equality Impact Assessment. This concluded that any changes that we make to help meet some of the significant demand for higher education will have no adverse affect on protected or disadvantaged groups because any 2012/13 changes will work within existing entrant control systems and will not affect the number of student places. It also outlined that most students with AAB+ A-level grades already go to university.
Annex D of HEFCE's consultation on teaching funding and student number controls (SNC) for 2012/13
http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2011/11_20/ provides information on proportions of students known to have AAB+, known not to have AAB+ or who are not attributed to either population, with breakdowns for subject area, ethnicity and age group.
We have instructed HEFCE to continue to monitor impact on particular groups and in developing the proposals for teaching funding and allocating student numbers for 2012-13 HEFCE has assessed the impact on the HE sector in terms of regulatory burden, equality and diversity, sustainable development and privacy in its Sector Impact Assessment