§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on722W 21 initial entrants to full-time and sandwich courses expressed as a proportion of the averaged 18 to 19-year-old population. The sharp rise in participation rates in the early 1990s reflects the expansion of the higher education sector during these years. There was an increase in entrant numbers in 1997 related partly to the funding arrangements for higher education, with students choosing to enter HE rather than wait until 1998. There was a corresponding reduction in 1998 before the entry rates started to increase again in 1999.
The Government are committed to raising the participation rates for people from less affluent family backgrounds, and has introduced Excellence Challenge, including the AimHigher campaign, which is targeted at raising attainment and aspirations among young people who traditionally would not consider going to university.
the AS-Level examinations; and what changes will be made in the structure of sixth form studies. 
§ Mr. Stephen Twigg
[holding answer 4 July 2002]Last September, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a number of changes to AS-level examinations. The length of some AS examination papers was reduced with most lasting one hour, enabling a complete AS to be taken in half a day. The examination timetable was restructured to reduce clashes and ease the burden of administration of examinations on schools and colleges.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) continue to review Curriculum 2000 reforms and are due to report to Ministers following the summer examination results. We shall carefully consider QCA's recommendations and take necessary actions.