§ The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.
Having reviewed the Higher Education Links programme, I have decided to continue with a redesigned programme, maintaining current levels of annual investment (£3 million) but with some modifications to the existing scheme (which will end in March 2006). I expect the new scheme to commence in April 2005, with commitments being made over the following seven years (until March 2012).
The review report identified a number of strengths of the current scheme, but there were also some areas for improvement. The redesigned programme will tackle these issues.
The overall goal of the redesigned programme will be the reduction of poverty, the promotion of sustainable development in poor countries and the building of human capital and skills. Only countries where DfID has bilateral country programmes will be eligible for funding. There will therefore be more emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa and low-income countries.
The revised programme should also support south-south links and links between southern partners and non-UK partners in the north, and it will also give more attention to science and technology. An independent evaluation will take place after five years.
DfID's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has written to Professor Robert Boucher, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and chair of the existing Higher Education Links steering committee, setting out the features of the new scheme. His letter is on DfID's website. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.