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Universities UK response to Conservative manifesto

​​Universities UK responded today to the publication of the Conservative Party manifesto.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

[Research and development]

"We welcome the aim to increase investment in research and development and the commitment to meet the current OECD average for investment in R&D (2.4% of GDP) within ten years, with a longer-term goal of three per cent. This will support universities to conduct more life-changing research to meet the big, global challenges we face and drive economic growth.

"The important commitment to increase the number of scientists working in the UK and enable leading researcher from around the world to work here is essential to ensuring that the UK continues to be a world leader in science, research and innovation. It is also encouraging to see continued collaboration with the EU on science and innovation highlighted."

[Skills and growth]

"The manifesto includes positive recognition of universities' important role in local communities, boosting growth, jobs and increasing innovation and skills.

"Over the last thirty years, universities have been at the forefront of developing new, high quality vocational qualifications and training in areas such as accountancy, architecture and engineering. With a rightly renewed focus on enhancing the skills of the British workforce, universities can play a lead role in developing and delivering, in partnership with industry, a further expansion of high quality courses that meet the needs of students and employers and contribute to future economic growth."

[International students and staff]

 "We welcome the pledge to ensure that Britain's world-class universities can continue to attract international students. The UK government has been clear that there is no cap on the number of international students who can come to study at UK universities. This must remain the case if every region in Britain is to continue to benefit from the huge value they bring to local economies, British jobs and the academic experience at our universities.

"Care must be taken to ensure that talk of toughening the visa requirements for students does not send out a negative message to genuine international students who may be considering the UK. Universities are committed to working with government to ensure that there is no abuse of the student visa system​ and that there is improved and reliable data to identify the extent of any overstaying.

"We will continue to make suggestions on how the immigration system could be reformed to make the UK the most attractive destination in the world to study. Universities are committed to working with political leaders to communicate a welcoming and consistent message to international students and staff."

[Links with schools]

"Just over half of our universities in England are already engaged in some sort of sponsorship activity, either with an individual school or with multiple schools. It is important that future partnerships between universities and schools in England are developed in consultation with the university and schools sectors, properly taking account of local needs, and based on evidence of what good school-university collaboration looks like."​​​


  1. The Conservative Party's 2017 general election manifesto is available to download from their website

  2. Universities UK published recently its five priorities for the next government ahead of next month's general election. They are: 1. Securing an effective post-Brexit settlement for universities; 2. Supporting universities in their role as anchors for growth in local economies; 3. Increasing funding for science, research and innovation to match our competitors; 4. Supporting world-leading teaching, student experience and improving outcomes; and 5. An effective immigration system. For more information on these priorities, download the full document.​

Key Contacts

Jo Hindle

Jo Hindle

Head of Media
Universities UK

Luke Lambert

Luke Lambert

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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