I propose to take Questions Nos. 63, 67 and 68 together.
The new Higher Diploma Level 8 Conversion ICT Programmes targeted at jobseekers have been rolling out from March 2012. To date 682 students have accepted places or are enrolled on these programmes countrywide. A preliminary evaluation of applicant data shows that there has been strong demand for these programmes from high quality applicants. More than 80% of participants have degree level or postgraduate qualifications. A quarter of participants were previously employed in the construction sector. A preliminary analysis of qualifications responses show that approximately 8% have qualifications in Architecture, architectural technology or Built Environment and a further 15% have qualifications in Engineering (mostly civil and mechanical engineering) with others qualified in mathematics, science, accountancy, commerce and other disciplines. None of the programmes have completed yet but there will be ongoing monitoring of the programmes and an evaluation of the outcomes as graduates emerge early next year.
Other actions provided for in the Plan are also under way including the establishment of a new high level Academic Industry Foresight Group. The publication of the Plan has also contributed to raised awareness of the employment opportunities for graduates from these disciplines. While it is too early to assess increased numbers onto undergraduate ICT programmes, early indications from CAO application data are very promising. The number of students expressing a first preference for Science courses (including Computing) at honours degree level (level 8) increased by 18.47% this year and over the five year period 2008-12, this figure has increased by a total of 63.5%. It is expected that this will feed through into increased enrolments in September 2012.