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Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he plans to take to penalise institutions which do not meet their widening participation obligations as defined in their access agreements.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes The Minister for Universities and Science, The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

It is a matter for the director of fair access to determine whether an institution has complied with the terms of its access agreement.

Where the director decides that an institution has failed to meet the conditions of its access agreement, he may impose a financial sanction (via the funding body) up to a maximum of £500,000 or refuse to renew the access agreement. He may also require restitution if students have been disadvantaged or commitments have not been honoured.

The Government have committed to strengthen the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) so it can provide a more active and energetic challenge and support to universities and colleges. We will make significantly more resources available, increasing capacity up to around four times its original level and equipping OFFA to use fully its powers to monitor and review access agreements.

We are currently considering whether the director of fair access has the right powers, taking into account the responses to the White Paper and the technical consultation that followed. We will set out our plans in the draft Bill that we shall be presenting to Parliament next year.

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