Supplementary written evidence from The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP (WOS0071)


I appeared before your Committee on 16 May to give evidence for the Department for Education as the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education. I am writing to provide additional information pertaining to some of the topics raised during the evidence session and to clarify several of the points I made.


I would first like to draw your attention to the two documents I have provided alongside this letter. The first relates to international students, a topic raised at the evidence session by Lord Agnew. This document sets out data which shows that the number of international students has risen over the last five years and has exceeded targets.


Further to this, in my response to Q135, I cited figures to show how much

international students studying in the UK are worth to the UK economy. On the day I gave evidence, new data was released which showed that the total net impact on the UK economy of the cohort of first-year international students enrolled at UK higher education providers in the 2021/22 academic year was estimated at £37.4 billion across the duration of their studies.


The second document sets out progression and completion rates for Russell Group providers. In my response to Q139, I stated that I would write to the Committee on this subject. The data shows that student outcomes tend to be more positive at Russell Group providers than for the higher education sector as a whole.

Continuation and progression rates to highly skilled roles for all English Russell Group providers are above the England sector average and above the Office for Students’ (OfS) thresholds for full-time first degree graduates. However, it should benoted that there are a handful of Russell Group universities which fall below the OfS thresholds for completion at any mode or any level of study. There are 7 Russell Group universities which fall below the completion threshold for part-time other undergraduate degrees. Please see the attached document for further information.


For additional clarity, in my answer to Q139 I stated that only 65% of students on free school meals achieve good progression outcomes at Russell Group providers. I did not have this figure during the committee hearing and instead cited the figure across all higher education providers. Since the committee hearing, more recent progression data has become available. This shows that of the 19 Russell Group providers for which free school meals (FSM) data are available, 24% of FSM students on average at Russell Group providers do not progress onto employment or further study 15 months after graduation. Whilst this is lower than for the sector as a whole, I am aware that some Russell Group providers have comparatively poorer progression rates for full-time first-degree students eligible for FSM. I strongly believe that the Russell Group can do even better in this area and it is essential that they continue to prioritise social mobility.


here are some additional points I made during the evidence session that I want to clarify. In my responses to Q132, Q133 and Q136, I stated that 75% of universities are in good financial health. While 75% is the correct figure based on 2020/21 data, updated figures for 2021/22 show that 72% of universities are in good financial health.


In my response to Q142, I stated that the OfS has given higher education providers

£15m to spend on metal health continuous professional development. I want to clarify that we have asked the OfS to allocate £15m of funding to mental health, including support for transitions to university, with a focus on counselling, and on join-up between higher education and health providers.


In my answer to Q150, I provided some statistics in relation to higher technical qualifications (HTQs). I stated that 10% of adults hold a level 4 or 5 (L4/5) qualification across the country. In actuality, 9% of adults of adults hold a L4/5 qualification as their highest qualification. I also stated that 4% of under-25s hold a L4/5 qualification. Whilst this figure is correct, I would like to emphasise that, as with the previous statistic, 4% of under-25s hold a L4/5 qualification as their highest qualification.


Furthermore, I stated that 50% of HTQ entrants hold a level 6 qualification. I would like to clarify that we do not yet know the exact proportion of HTQ students who enter level 4/5 study who already hold a L6 qualification, as HTQs are still in the early stages of rollout. I may have misconstrued this with my knowledge that more than 50% [the real figure is 54%] of English domiciled entrants to higher level learning [defined at National Qualifications Framework Levels 4 to 8] are aiming for level 6 qualifications. Specific to level 4/5 studies, we do know that 17-18% of English domiciled entrants to OfS-recognised higher education at level 4/5 in academic year 2021-22 were aiming for an equivalent or lower qualification (ELQ) than they already held. This percentage is based on learners where ELQ status is known, and some caution should be applied when interpreting ELQ statistics due to the high level of unknowns in the sample.


In response to Q144, I stated that the London Design and Engineering University Technical College (UTC) has recently registered with the OfS. I intended to refer to the similarly named Engineering and Design Institute, London, which is registered with the OfS.


Finally, Lord Leong asked when a decision would be made regarding a proposed increase to the OfS’s registration fees. Though I was unable to answer this question during the evidence session, as the regulations had not yet been laid before Parliament, I wrote separately to the Committee regarding this matter on Tuesday 23 May, as soon as those regulations were laid. I confirmed in that letter that the

regulations would increase the OfS’s registration fees for academic year 2023/24 and provided some additional information on the reasons for that.


I hope this information is of use to the Committee.