HC Deb 13 March 2003 vol 401 cc397-9W
12. Annabelle Ewing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive regarding the White Paper on higher education. [102714]

Margaret Hodge

The White Paper "The future of higher education" (Cm 5735) states that there will be discussions with the devolved Administrations about the impact on the other UK countries of the proposals for student and institutional funding for higher education institutions in England. Initial discussions between officials have already begun, and I expect them to continue over the coming months.

Mr. Chaytor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research he has(a) commissioned and (b) assessed on the relationship between A level points scores and class of final degree; and if he will make a statement. [101041]

Margaret Hodge

[holding answer 10 March 2003]The Department has not commissioned research into the relationship between A level points scores and class of final degree. However, it has reviewed a number of research projects in this area including:

i) "Determinants of degree performance in UK universities: a statistical analysis of the 1993 student cohort" by Jeremy Smith and Robin Naylor at Warwick University. This was published in 2001 in the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 63, 29–60. It found that …for women, an extra two points per A-level subject (i.e. one grade higher per subject) raises the probability of a good degree (at least an upper second class honours degree) by over 9 percentage points. There is a similar effect for men.

ii) "School Performance and the Likelihood of getting into Bristol" by Jeff Odell in 1999. This found that, on the whole, of all the students who entered the University of Bristol with excellent A levels, those who came from weaker schools gained better degrees than the students from stronger schools.

iii) "Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: The Case of University Students in England and Wales" by Robert McNabb, Sarmistha Pal and Peter Sloane was published in Economica in 2002. This found that A-level point scores have a strong positive effect on degree attainment.

iv) "Who does best at university" HEFCE 2002 concluded that young full-time entrants with lower A level points scores are more likely to drop out, to repeat years and, if they graduate, they are less likely to get a good degree. The authors also argue that admissions tutors should be exploring new ways (in addition to A level attainment) to identify performance. This report can be downloaded from HEFCE's website at http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Learning/whodoes/. The HEFCE are continuing to refine and develop their analysis and a fuller report will be published later this year.

v) "Fair Enough? Wider access to university by identifying potential to succeed". This was published in 2003 by UUK. It identified objective criteria to build on existing systems and more accurately predict applicants' potential, particularly those from backgrounds not traditionally associated with higher education. This can be downloaded from http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/fairenough/.

Paul Holmes

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with higher education institutions to ensure that they take account of changes to the curriculum proposed in "14 to 19: Opportunity for Excellence". [102710]

Margaret Hodge

Representatives from higher education were invited to each of the 58 regional consultation workshops on the 14 to 19 Green Paper, along with representatives from secondary education, further education colleges, employers and other stakeholders. Additional events were also held to discuss the proposals with representatives from higher education including a presentation of the proposals to the Universities UK main Committee of Vice Chancellors.

The Working Group for 14 to 19 Reform, chaired by Mike Tomlinson, will consult a range of interested bodies, including higher education institutions, as it considers the longer-term agenda for change and develops its proposals for a new unified qualifications framework. The Group's membership includes two University Vice Chancellors.

Our regional consultations on the White Paper, "The Future of Higher Education", will include discussion of the development of more work-based degrees such as Foundation Degrees and progression from the 14 to 19 phase to higher education.

Forward to