University Alliance shocked at David Willetts’ outdated and elitist comments

david willetts - photo credit BIS

david willetts - photo credit BISLibby Aston, Director of University Alliance, in response to David Willetts’ comments on the Sutton Trust research –

“We were shocked to see David Willetts’ outdated and elitist comments on the weekend and his plan to email thousands of ‘missing’ state school pupils who do not apply to a small number of elite universities.

“These students are not missing. Well-informed students apply to outstanding courses that are going to offer them the right opportunities in the job market and deliver access to their chosen careers.

“We must challenge this assumption that there are just a handful of Universities that young people should be aspiring to go to.”

Sophie Cousens, studying Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth, said –

“I knew at school that I wanted to become a Marine Biologist. I did a lot of research about the subjects I needed to do at school and the courses I should do at University to get the kind of job I was looking for. I found the right course for me at the University of Plymouth which is jointly run with the Marine Biological Association, who share their library and facilities with the university. I love it and I know I’ve made the right choice. It was really frustrating at the time though because people at school and my family were convinced I should go for courses at Leeds or Manchester or something like that because of the kind of universities they are. But I decided ‘no’ because I knew Marine Biology was for me. It is rubbish that people assume the only courses people should be aiming for are only at a couple of universities.”
/ end.


Notes for editors:

1.    Sophie Cousens is available for interviews. Please contact Sam Jones for contact
details on 07767 673 982 or email

2.    About the Alliance:
University Alliance represents 23 major, business-focussed universities at the heart of the sector delivering world-leading research with impact. Alliance universities educate over 26% of all UK students and achieve some of the highest graduate-level employment rates. Alliance universities offer a research- informed, academic learning environment and a culture of innovation and enterprise, equipping graduates who will help deliver growth to the UK economy. Our universities maintain a revolving door with business to help ensure graduate employers get innovative and thoughtful, professionally accredited graduates with the right skills to help grow their businesses.

3.    Alliance universities:
Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University, University of Glamorgan, Glasgow Caledonian University, 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, Teesside University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.
For further information, please contact Sam Jones at the University Alliance office on 07767 673 982 or email

Photo credit: BIS

Further reading