Speech by Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Lord Mandelson

27 July 2009

Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“We welcome the Secretary of State’s recognition that our universities have a central role in helping the UK out of the recession and that maintaining our world class higher education system will require sustainable funding from the graduate as well as the taxpayer. ‘Excellence is not cheap,’ as Lord Mandelson remarked today.

“The UK has established a world-wide reputation for excellence in higher education – second only to the US – but without increased investment the success of our world-leading universities will simply not be sustained.

“Social mobility and widening access remains a key concern for Russell Group universities. Evidence shows that academic achievement at school continues to be key factor in determining whether a student will go on to university, which is why our universities are working hard to help raise attainment and aspirations; our staff and students devote an increasing amount of their time to working closely with local schools and colleges.

“With regards to the admissions process, our universities already draw on a range of factors and information in order to identify potential, which may not be reflected in traditional qualifications. For example, some universities will take into account any particular barriers the candidate may have faced during their education such as spending time in care

“The Russell Group is more than happy to work with the Secretary of State and the new department to build on our experience and further open access to higher education”

Note to editors

  1. The speech by Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills is available from here: http://www.bis.gov.uk/
    During today’s speech Lord Mandelson stated: “Bluntly put: excellence is not cheap. When this Government came to office, we faced the challenge of maintaining a world class university sector, with higher participation rates. We now face the same challenge with inevitable pressure on public resources. We cannot duck the issue: everything we want to achieve in higher education depends on a solid, sustainable system of funding.”

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