David Miliband prioritises Higher Education

30 June 2010

On 30 June at Redland Green School in Bristol, the Rt Hon. David Miliband MP delivered a speech hosted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) in which he talked about his views on education and its role in creating a more equal society.

Commenting on the speech, Director General, Dr Wendy Piatt said:

“David Miliband has rightly put higher education at the heart of his programme for the future, emphasising the crucial importance of universities not only to the economy but to society as a whole.

“The Russell Group agrees that maintaining the world-class teaching and research of our top universities is vitally important.   Now is the time to invest in, rather than cut, support for these institutions. While our global competitors pump billions into their universities, the UK cannot afford to make even more cuts to outstanding universities which are crucial to the economic recovery. Russell Group institutions have an annual economic output of £23.5 billion, supporting 237,000 jobs, and bringing in £3 billion of overseas investment each year.

“Mr Miliband is correct in recognising that the key to improving access to leading universities is to improve achievement in schools and to tackle the root causes of inequality in educational attainment which take effect from a depressingly early age. However, as he suggests in referring to the ground-breaking schemes run by University of Leeds and King’s College London, Russell Group institutions have introduced a wide range of schemes to help encourage underprivileged students to apply to their institutions. Since the introduction of the fees regime, our institutions have also greatly increased both the amount of financial support given to disadvantaged students through bursaries and the money committed to outreach and widening participation from additional fee income. This is in addition to the very large sums already committed to outreach from existing budgets.

“In addition to widening participation, we also welcome Mr Miliband’s contribution to the debate about the profile of student cohort and the importance of subjects such as science, technology, engineering, maths and foreign languages which are so important to the future success of the UK economy.  He is also absolutely right to call for the Higher education sector to be more diverse.

“Above all, as Mr Miliband argues, it is crucial that we should find a sustainable means of funding higher education in the UK and that our graduates contribute to this by shouldering a fair share of the cost of the education they receive. It is vital that our students receive an education of the highest quality so that they can continue to compete with graduates from institutions like Harvard or Yale.”

Note to Editors

  1. See David Miliband's speech on the ippr website.

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