Alliance universities are enterprise universities. They lead the enterprise and entrepreneurship agenda with over 21,000 business links (including 14,000 SMEs) and 50% of all turnover and 40% of all jobs from UK graduate start-ups.
So the review Lord Young has been undertaking is really important to us.
We welcome many of the recommendations in Lord Young’s report, Enterprise for All. As he rightly highlights, technology is changing the way we work. This presents challenges but also opportunities. Lord Young recognises that we need to prepare people for the reality of a technology-rich future in the UK. This means keeping courses relevant. This is an area Alliance universities are global leaders in; 6 of the 20 universities to receive the Small Business Charter Awards so far have been Alliance universities. They are universities delivering work-ready and enterprising graduates through their close links with employers. They are leading on entrepreneurialism with half of all turnover from graduate start-ups coming from Alliance graduates – another key strength we will continue to play to.
We welcome the need to recognise other achievements beyond the academic, which the enterprise passport is intended to do, taking account of enterprise and other activities that make students well rounded. This is something that our universities are already deeply committed to doing. For example, Plymouth University has the Plymouth Award to recognise and celebrate student achievements outside of the curriculum.We also support the need for better and more granular course-level information for students to help them make choices about higher education.
However, we have concerns over the recommendation to measure added value based on graduate income data. This is simply not a good measure. Evidence shows that graduate earnings have much more to do with your family background, prior attainment and the industry and role you then go on to work in, than the university you attend. And such a measure will not do anything to incentivise HEIs to up their game. Actually, it may mask differences in the quality of provision at different universities. Any information on employment outcomes and income must be read in the context of these wider factors.
We will be launching a new report on 8 July exploring many of the issues in Lord Young’s review. You can join us for the launch of Job Ready: Universities, businesses and students creating success on Tuesday 8 July, 12.30pm – 2.30pm, Churchill Room, House of Commons, London. There will be short speeches from the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, CBI and British Airways. Register here.