MillionPlus launches general election manifesto

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09 May 2017

In its general election manifesto published today (9 May) MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, calls for the next government to review the university funding system to ensure that it is affordable and sustainable for universities and students. The MillionPlus manifesto also calls on the next government to create a new and expanded regional growth fund to support the development of an industrial strategy that engages with universities active in their regions, restore student maintenance grants and negotiate visa-free access for UK and EU students who want to study in other countries when the UK leaves the EU.

Professor Dave Phoenix, Chair of MillionPlus and Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, said:

“Modern universities are hugely important to the UK and offer a wide range of relevant degrees which bring life-long advantages to our graduates and enable them to gain employment in their chosen careers. These universities are major forces in their local communities and regional economies and have teaching and research partnerships with universities throughout the world. They also have a wider role in promoting ideas, strengthening society and offering new opportunities regardless of background, age or culture.

“Our manifesto recognises that there are concerns that the higher education funding system in England is becoming less sustainable and is seen as less affordable by both full-time students and those who want to study part-time or return to education when they are older. Fees are rising because government has withdrawn funding from universities and there is now a good case for the wider benefits of higher education to the economy and to society to be reflected in a more balanced approach to the way in which universities in England are resourced.

Reviewing the funding system and the contributions made by students and graduates to the costs of their higher education have the potential to be more cost-effective for taxpayers in the long-run and to help people who did not have the opportunity to study for a degree when they were younger, to study at university on a part or full-time basis later in life.

The MillionPlus manifesto calls for the next government to:

Industrial strategy

  • Work with modern universities to deliver an industrial strategy that supports regional growth
  •  Replace current EU structural and regional funds with a new and increased regional growth fund in which universities are valued as key partners

Funding

  • Review the sustainability of the current funding model for students and universities in England to make it both fair and economically viable
  • Restore student maintenance grants to ensure that those from the low-income households are not put off studying for a degree
  • Commit to do much more to support people who want to study part-time or return to study later in life

Teacher education

  • Ensure that universities are at the heart of initial teacher training and career-long professional development for teachers to address problems of teacher shortage and retention

Health

  • Write-off the student loans of nurses and NHS professional staff in England who work in the NHS after qualification and restore funding for continued professional development which is vital to improved and integrated health and social care

Research

  • Raise the level of investment in UK science and research to 3%
  • Guarantee to replace any EU research funding that is lost after Brexit
  • Redistribute new funding for translational research to universities which are active in their regions

Negotiating Brexit

  • Guarantee EU staff and citizens the right to remain as soon as possible, and in the longer-term develop a light-touch work-permit scheme to allow universities to recruit talented individuals
  • Negotiate a temporary residency scheme or visa-free access for EU students studying in the UK and for UK students studying in Europe, to tap into this talent pipeline and keep the UK competitive
  • Explore the potential for reciprocal funding arrangements to support student mobility, boost student numbers coming to the UK and enable UK students to study across Europe 
  • Negotiate the UK’s continued membership of Horizon 2020 and other research programmes
  • Remain open to allowing access to the European Court of Justice as the EU’s arbitration court for trade agreements, research and other collaborative programmes. Without such jurisdiction, entry to these valuable programmes will be impossible

International

  • Take international students out of migration targets, to help address the UK’s declining market share
  • Develop a strategy to reduce barriers and boost recruitment by introducing a light-touch and low cost visa regime for international students
  • Create a new post-study work visa route to meet the needs of businesses and communities across the UK

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities. More information can be found at www.millionplus.ac.uk
  2. Modern universities: key facts
  3. The full MillionPlus manifesto is available here
  4. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 7717 1658/07527 336 795 or email press@millionplus.ac.uk
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