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UCU response to universities minister's speech on social mobility

1 July 2020

Responding to a speech from universities minister Michelle Donelan on social mobility UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

'The minister talks about the government's desire to level up Britain, to deliver greater opportunity for all and how universities must play a vital role in that mission. Unfortunately, the government is currently sleepwalking universities into severe financial difficulties due to the impact of Covid-19 on their income.

'The government's obsession with a graduate's earnings as the only measure of success suggests ignorance about the real value of education. It is particularly tone deaf at a time when millions of workers educated and trained by universities are providing important public services in the midst of a severe economic crisis.

'Instead of making the case for education, the minister appears to be trying to turn some students off university by saying it is expensive and substandard. Universities using contextual data to increase opportunity for students from the poorest backgrounds should be applauded. For the minister to say students have been left indebted and let down is quite remarkable when the Conservatives are responsible for increasing tuition fee debt and letting the private sector squeeze more and more money out of higher education.

'The government continues to attempt to pick artificial "winners" in the market it has created, denigrating certain courses and the institutions that offer them without any evidence for doing so.'

Last updated: 3 July 2020