As organisations make submissions to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review 2015, Universities UK’s Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge outlines the case for investment in universities.
The arguments for sustained investment in universities and university research are well rehearsed – not least on this blog – and now they are being put to the test as the government carries out its Comprehensive Spending Review. Universities UK made its submission to the review last Friday, and between now and November (when the outcomes will be announced) will be talking to the decision makers and influencers to drive home the message about the importance to our sector – and to the UK economy – of safeguarding the vital funding streams that help to maintain our excellent teaching and world-leading research base.Given the scale of the savings government departments have been asked to find (25% or more in real terms by 2019–20), this will be no easy task. But the rationale for doing so is compelling. As the government itself recognises, the ‘dynamic, open enterprising economy’ it wants to see is underpinned by ‘long-term public and private investment in infrastructure, skills and science’. This places universities at the nexus of any vision for future growth, improved productivity, and a high-skill knowledge economy.On higher-level skills, university education is essential to meeting current and future demand – which is projected to rise significantly in the next five years, with almost half of all jobs requiring some form of higher education by 2022. On R&D and science, universities are at the heart of the UK’s world-leading research base, which brings great economic and social benefits to the UK. On innovation, universities up and down the country work successfully with businesses big and small to commercialise research, incubate new ideas, and upskill their employees. And at the local and regional level, universities encourage entrepreneurship, attract investment and talent to their area, and provide and create jobs.
Universities UK’s recommendations to the spending review are designed to ensure that universities can continue to deliver all this. In particular, we are calling for: