In the realm of higher education, it’s not just the
policies we will be looking out for, but also what role the parties think the
UK’s universities should play on the domestic and global stage.
While we wait
for the manifestos to emerge, Universities UK is calling on all parties to highlight
how they will support access to higher education, investment in research, and
attract global talent to ensure UK universities remain a global success story. Our
own manifesto for the UK’s universities sets out how
political parties can:
This includes continuing
with no cap on the number of people who can go to university, and securing no
cut in real-terms funding per university student. Parties can also help sweep
away many of the barriers that universities face by providing flexible,
credit-based teaching. It also needs to be easier for universities, colleges
and employers to work together to provide the courses and teaching needed in an
ever-changing economy and job market.
We know that education
drives social mobility. The number of 18-year-olds from disadvantaged
backgrounds entering university is increasing, but there is more we can do. The
cost of living is often the biggest concern for students, and we need to see a
reintroduction of maintenance grants for students who need them. UUK is calling
for more funding for careers advice services in schools and a national
education programme on student finance so students know how they can access
financial support and how the loan system works. To ensure students flourish
when they get to university, parties should promise to fund the services needed
to address student mental health.
Britain” to be more than a slogan we must attract international talent – from
students, to technicians, to the next Nobel Prize winners. Political parties should
pledge to reform the burdensome visa process, lower the proposed salary
threshold for potential international staff and follow through on the previous
government’s promise to introduce a 2-year post-study work visa for
The UK is
second only to the United States for producing Nobel Prize winners and a lot of
their ground-breaking research happens in our universities. Reaching the target
of 2.4% of GDP invested in UK research and development by 2027 won’t be possible
unless parties commit to enough funding – an additional £20bn over a five-year
spending period is required. But funding is only half the picture. We also need
the people – from the UK and abroad – to undertake the world-leading research and
UUK wants to see at least an additional 260,000 researchers to build the UK’s capacity.
The benefits of our science, research and innovation must be felt across the UK
too. The Strength in Places fund should be doubled to £240m so that every part of
the UK has the chance to lead innovation.
All eyes will
be on the Brexit chapters of manifestos and speeches. For universities, students
and researchers, we will want pledges to secure associated country status to
the next EU research framework programme – Horizon Europe and full
participation in the next Erasmus scheme. EU students and staff must continue
to see the UK as an open and welcoming nation, so any new immigration system
cannot put extra burdens on talented people who want to work and study in the
already a spotlight on how parties aim to court the student vote as well as making
sure that students are aware that they can register to vote at their term-time
and home addresses (but only vote once). UUK has guidance for universities on what they can do to
make sure they are getting the message out to students on voter registration.
engaging with parties over the coming weeks and, eventually, a new government so
that all political pledges will help everyone and every place experience the
benefits that universities have to offer.