Responding to the announcement from the Department for Education today, on ‘levelling up’ university targets to improve student outcomes, University Alliance CEO Vanessa Wilson said:
“It is fantastic to hear the minister’s recognition of the crucial role universities have in levelling up the country. Producing job-ready, enterprising graduates goes to the very heart of University Alliance’s mission. Our members are pioneers in working with employers to develop flexible, innovative higher technical provision such as degree apprenticeships and higher technical qualifications. They also work closely with their local schools and colleges of Further Education, and a number have established partnerships with multi-academy trusts (MATs).
Many Alliance university students are the first in their family to go on to higher education, and on average a quarter of our students in England are eligible for Free School Meals – almost twice the national average. As institutions with diverse student bodies, we have an important role to play in expanding the diversity of Research & Development (R&D) talent pipelines, tackling inequalities, and addressing barriers faced by students and staff. Our flagship Doctoral Training Alliance (DTA) – one of the largest nationwide doctoral training initiatives across the UK – supports universities to run innovative schemes to support and develop a diverse academic pipeline.
Our members are committed to building on this progress and doing all they can to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students across the country. We do have one plea for Government and the Office for Students: We ask them to ensure that forthcoming policies and regulation do not have the unintended consequence of disincentivising universities from undertaking this vital work.
We welcome John Blake to the post of Director for Fair Access and Participation and look forward to working with him in the future.”