Responding to the 2017 Budget statement, University Alliance Chief Executive Maddalaine Ansell said:
“Alliance universities educate over 25% of the UK’s STEM graduates and have strength and depth in STEM research, so the additional funds for PhD studentships are welcome alongside funds to attract researchers from overseas. The Research Councils must distribute these funds on the basis of fair and open competition, recognising excellence wherever it is found, and the creation of UKRI must be used as an opportunity to iron out the administrative issues that have prevented this from happening in the past.
“It is also positive to see a renewed emphasis on technical and professional education. But to achieve genuine parity of esteem – which ministers say they want – they must ensure there are progression routes to degree level and above. Universities – particularly Alliance institutions, with experience in delivering high-level, skills-rich courses designed with employers – have a crucial role to play here. Rather than seeing academic and technical skills as entirely separate, Britain needs graduates who can combine high-level academic, technical and professional skills. If these are to be developed through two separate routes, there must be clear pathways between the two and an expectation that either can take you to doctorate level and beyond.
“We are also pleased to see that ministers have heeded University Alliance’s call for action on lifelong learning, with the announcement of pilots to test innovative approaches, alongside greater flexibility in funding to support people to retrain and upskill throughout life. We know that part-time and mature students are more debt averse, so the policy should be monitored closely and a different – and grant-based – form of support may be needed.”
Notes for Editors: