LONDON, 2 September - Fears have emerged that the UK government has failed to carry out even preliminary investigations into what is needed to achieve its target of 50 per cent participation in higher education.

Prime Minister Tony Blair set the goal of attracting half of all young people into higher education by 2010 almost three years ago. But critics claim the government still appears to have done nothing to assess what this target means in terms of investing extra cash and recruiting more staff.

The issue has been highlighted by two government research contracts put out to tender by the Department for Education and Skills. According to a report in the Times Higher Education Supplement, the contracts highlight 'significant gaps' in knowledge about the effects the target will have on investment and staffing.

One, for example, asks researchers to examine how the expansion can occur and what...

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