Comment to the Times Higher Education following Vince Cable’s comments on development in education

Speaking to the Times Higher Education following Vince Cable’s comments on development in education, Libby Aston, Director of University Alliance, said:

“Recent growth in student numbers has not been the result of a target, it’s been about aspirations. In the UK’s global, knowledge-based economy, where 80% of new jobs are in high-skill areas, it is no surprise that more people aspire to attaining these skills.

“Reducing the number of university places – often in the high-quality, high-skill vocational areas – seems short-sighted at best and at worst detrimental to the future of these individuals and the UK economy. They have a proven record of graduate-level employment, equipping graduates for the 21st Century and meeting economic need.

“Our global competitors have recognised the need to invest in graduate level training to drive high-tech, high-skill and innovative industries. Independent reports and inquiries have all confirmed the need to increase this in the UK if we are to remain competitive. Furthermore, there remains no evidence of a reduction in quality, nor a mismatch of supply and demand of graduates into the economy.

“Dr Cable’s commitments to stimulate growth and to put HE and FE on a ‘sustainable footing’ are both important but they don’t provide a clear vision for the role of universities in driving economic growth.  Yes, the deficit needs to be tackled and difficult choices need to be made but the choice for higher education is not whether or not to expand, it is how to fund the necessary expansion in such a way that ensures fair access and maintains quality.”


Notes to Editors

University Alliance represents 23 major, dynamic, business-like universities at the heart
of the sector that deliver world-leading research with impact and are actively business-focussed.

Alliance universities educate 27% of all UK students and achieve some of the highest graduate-level employment rates. These universities offer a research informed, academic learning environment and a culture of entrepreneurialism, equipping graduates for the 21st century.

Alliance universities:

Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University, University of Glamorgan, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Gloucestershire, University of Hertfordshire, University of Huddersfield, University of Lincoln, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, Nottingham Trent University, Open University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Plymouth, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact: Tim Field, University Alliance on 0203 178 7491 or email

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