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University Alliance comments on new Universities & Science Minister’s appointment

The University Alliance has commented on the appointment of Chris Skidmore as the new Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation.

Liz Bromley, Acting-CEO of University Alliance said:

“We look forward to working positively and constructively with the new minister. 

“We see the sector’s joint-mission with government over the next 12 months as three-fold.”

ONE TERTIARY SYSTEMNOT PLAYING THE HE vs FE GAME

“We need to put meat on the bones of a coherent, long-term vision for tertiary education. There’s movement in the right direction but even after decades of debate, there no joined-up strategy for higher education, further education and schools. We must be honest this is as much down to university and college leaders not agreeing on the right way forward, as it is national government seeing the skills sector as a bolt-on or being for other people.

“We need to come together. With our partners, University Alliance has built up a bold, radical policy agenda on a lifelong higher and degree-level education, which can create equality of opportunity regardless of background, ability and experience.

“The Post-18 Review; Spending Review; Industrial Strategy; addressing cost-of-living for students and learners; and the DfE’s ongoing review of higher level four and five qualifications gives us the building blocks to do this.”

Further reading:

University Alliance’s Ladders of Opportunity Report

University Alliance’s Lifelong Learning Report

Liz Bromley’s recent blog for WonkHE on apprenticeships

 

BOLD INTERNATIONAL STRATEGY

“We need a new global vision and international strategy for higher education. The tone must be set from No.10 and across Cabinet, whether the current incumbents or in those in the future.

“The last minister resigned on a point of personal principle about the Galileo project. The fact remains, however, that behind the warm words, this wider international agenda has drifted for months, even years. The government needs to set aside internal party issues aside to equip universities to better sell the UK, their regions and industry.

“We must see real energy from ministers so the UK can compete aggressively for international students and to export higher education overseas; attract skilled academics, teachers and professionals where needed; and generate research collaboration and investment.”

Further reading:

UUK has published its post-Brexit priorities

 

FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

“Universities short and medium-term finances will be a key debate in 2019.

“It’s right that ministers and regulator demand the sector to give value for money for every penny of public investment – but there is a disconnect in Whitehall and Westminster between the political posturing over the headline tuition fee and the commercial realities in universities.

“The financial margins remain tight across the board for scores of institutions, in particular those focusing on tech-ed and professional education. There are rising cost pressures, dictated by government, which have built up over the last five years – including freezes in tuition fees, the Apprenticeship Levy and changes to public sector pension arrangements – as well as the knock-on impact of almost of a decade of real terms cuts in colleges and schools.”

“We look forward to looking at all this imaginatively, creatively and constructively with ministers during the Spending Review”.