§ Mr. Don Foster
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what(a) number and (b) percentage of properties in her charge are empty; and what steps are being taken by her Department to reduce the number of such properties. 
§ Clare Short
No properties in my charge as Secretary of State for International Development are empty.
Home domiciled applicants for entry to full-time and sandwich1 undergraduate courses in the United Kingdom through the universities and colleges admission system (UCAS) 1997–99 1997 1998 1999 Age Number Percentage of population1 Number Percentage of population1 Number Percentage of population1 Under 21 300,926 43.1 303,729 241.0 306,809 40.9 21 to 24 41,000 5.3 37,287 5.1 36,361 5.1 25 and over 56,401 6.0 48,572 5.2 45,521 5.0 Total 398,327 389,588 388,691 1 Based on the averaged 17 and 18 year old population for under 21s, the averaged 21-24 year old population for 21-24s, and the averaged 25-34 year old population for 25s and over. 2 The drop in the participation rate between 1997 and 1998 reflects the unusually large increase in the number of 18 year olds in the population between these years, resulting from a rise in the birth rate.
UCAS covers only applicants to full-time and sandwich courses; although similar data for part-time courses are not available, entrant numbers are. The following table shows the numbers of entrants to part-time courses as a proportion of the age group, for the two most recent years; data on part-time entrants for 1999 will not be available until April 2000. The figures show that, in contrast to applicants to full-time courses, participation rates for mature part-time students have risen. The majority of mature students opt to enter higher education via part-time courses.
Home domiciled entrants to part-time undergraduate courses 1 in the United Kingdom 1997 1998 Age Number Percentage of population2 Number Percentage of population2 Under 21 15,227 2.2 16,236 2.2 21 to 24 26,116 3.5 26,645 3.8 25 and over 176,139 18.9 181,572 19.8 Total 217,482 224,453 1 Includes courses in HE institutions, including the Open University, and FE institutions. The figures for the Open University will include some double counting of students who enrol on more than one course. 2 Based on the averaged 18 and 19 year old population for under 21s, the averaged 21-24 year old population for 21-24s, and the averaged 25-34 year old population for 25s and over.