HC Deb 20 March 1998 vol 308 cc757-8W
Mr. Jenkin

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment how many applications from mature students were received in the year 1997–98; and how many there are for the forthcoming year. [35413]

Dr. Howells

Centrally held information on applications to higher education courses covers only those applying through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) for full-time and sandwich degree, DipHE and HND courses. It therefore excludes those applying for part-time and post-graduate courses and also those who apply direct to the institutions rather than through UCAS.

The UCAS data for the 1997–98 academic year show that 97,400 or 24% of home applicants to full-time and sandwich undergraduate courses in the UK were mature students. Final figures for the 1998–99 academic year will not be available until the autumn, but the latest figures published by UCAS show that, as at 15 December, the number of applications from mature students was 18% down compared with the same point in 1997–98. This fall in part reflects trends in demographics and the numbers of potential entrants with the relevant entry qualifications. Even so, these figures are not a particularly good guide to final numbers for mature applicants as typically only 50% apply as at that date. More recent evidence suggests some recovery in mature applicant numbers.

Mr. Jenkin

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what provision will be made for childcare for children of mature students whose spouses are in full-time work. [35414]

Mr. Alan Howarth

FE Colleges are often ideally placed to help parents, including those who are taking vocational and other courses to further their employment prospects, by providing on-site childcare. The Government have allocated £5 million to the Further Education Funding Council for 1998–99 to increase the out of school childcare provision available in FE colleges.

Mr. Jenkin

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what was the ratio of mature students to non-mature students in higher education in each of the past five years; and what are the figures for the forthcoming year. [35412]

Dr. Howells

The figures for the five years up to 1996–97 are given in the table. Figures for 1997–98 are not yet available. Although the Department produces projections of total student numbers these are not disaggregated by age.

Full-time and part-time home postgraduate and undergraduate students in Great Britain (excluding the Open University)
Academic year All students (000) Percentage mature1
1992–93 1,197.4 55
1993–94 1,305.6 57
1994–95 1,423.2 58
1995–96 1,473.2 60
1996–97 1,521.2 60
1Mature undergraduates are defined as those aged 21 or over. Mature postgraduates are defined as those aged 25 and over.

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