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Our response to Universities Minister Jo Johnson’s speech on the value of higher education

Jo Johnson Universities Minister

Universities Minister Jo Johnson

Today the Universities Minister Jo Johnson gave his first major speech on the government’s higher education policy since the election. In his speech he has reiterated the government’s recognition of the value of higher education to the success of the country but reminded the sector that it is vital they demonstrate value for money for students and the taxpayer.  He also restated the Government’s commitment to widening participation and asked universities to consider introducing grade point average alongside traditional degree classifications.

Maddalaine Ansell, chief executive of University Alliance – Britain’s universities for cities and regions – said:

“We need a higher education system offering high quality teaching and learning to everyone with the ability and aspiration to go to university. We are up for the challenge of helping to develop a teaching excellence framework that will incentivise universities to do this and welcome the indication that this will include measures for retention and progression.

“This is an area where Alliance universities have real strength – we are the only group to exceed our Widening Participation and Retention Performance Indicator benchmarks. Many of our students come from the local area and nearly 40% of those are from non-traditional backgrounds.  Nearly two-thirds of our graduates stay in the cities and regions in which they have studied, helping their communities to thrive and grow.

“This is why we call on government to maintain Student Opportunity Funding. It is the only funding awarded to universities based on the genuine added costs of recruiting and retaining widening participation students.  It has proven to be crucial not just in improving social mobility and ensuring cities and regions have access to wider, more diverse talent for growth, but also in ensuring the Treasury maximises the return on its investment in higher education.

“We hope the Chancellor bears this in mind ahead of the emergency Budget next week.”

Notes to Editors

University Alliance is running a policy seminar on the Teaching Excellence Framework on Wed 29 July. If you are interested in attending the “Building the Teaching Excellence Framework” event, visit here.

 

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