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1994 Group responds to Vince Cable’s speech this morning

Responding to a speech delivered this morning by Vince Cable, Secretary of State of Business, Innovation and Skills, Paul Marshall, Executive Director of the 1994 Group said:

“The Secretary of State has set out a bold and progressive vision for the sector – a sector which is diverse, dynamic, impactful and accessible. Not all universities are the same – the UK cannot sustain 140 full service universities and expect them all to succeed at the same level in the same tasks. Diversity and differentiation of task and mission underpins the excellence of the UK HE system.”

“It is critical that we maintain the academic quality of UK higher education and continue to enhance the student experience so that universities are able to meet student expectations and the nation’s needs. To deliver this bold vision it is crucial that the outcome of Lord Browne’s review sets out a sensible and robust system of funding based upon a transparent, simple and fair system of graduate contributions tied directly to the education received. This must provide a long-term sustainable environment to ensure that UK’s world-class universities can continue to deliver a very high quality academic experience to all students and meet business needs.”

“We welcome greater competition between universities for teaching funding based on excellence, however the Government must carefully define future skills needs looking more widely than just STEM subjects. The UK economy needs graduates who are culturally, socially and intellectually aware to meet employers needs, develop new industries and seize new opportunities.”

“The 1994 Group has consistently called for more transparent and accurate information around the student experience to be provided. There is a need across the sector for a wider availability of data and information to better inform the decisions of applicants at all levels, and to help Heist identify problem areas and work to enhance aspects of the student experience. We welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to strengthen the information available.”

“It is crucial that all students with the ability to go to university are able to access the top universities. 1994 Group universities are working closely with schools to encourage prospective students from all backgrounds to apply to leading universities. Our universities are investing over £45m this year in student support and outreach activity and offer a range of scholarships and bursaries that continue to grow annually.”

“We strongly support the Secretary of State’s recognition that to ensure research excellence and increase impact more research concentration, not less is required to support the world-class research areas within our universities. In doing this, the Government must fund, on a competitive basis, the very best research wherever it is found, based not on past reputation but on demonstrable excellence and achievement.”

“We agree that scarce resources must be carefully allocated to deliver maximum impact. However, addressing current national priorities and future global challenges relies on the successful interplay of all subjects. We need to complement much needed investment in science subjects with continuing investment in arts, humanities and social sciences. We must protect our entire research base.”

END

Notes to Editors

  1. The 1994 Group represents 19 of UK's leading student-focused research-intensive universities. It was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. www.1994group.ac.uk 12 of the top 20 universities in the Guardian University Guide 2011 league tables published on the 8th June 2010 are 1994 Group members. 7 of the top 10 universities for student experience are 1994 Group Universities (2009 National Student Survey). In 17 major subject areas 1994 Group universities are the UK leaders achieving 1st place in their field (THE RAE subject rankings 2008). 57% of the 1994 Group's research is rated 4* 'world-leading' or 3* 'internationally excellent' (RAE 2008, HEFCE).
  2. The 1994 Group represents: University of Bath, Birkbeck University of London, Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Exeter, Goldsmiths University of London, Institute of Education University of London, Royal Holloway University of London, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Reading, University of St Andrews, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Surrey, University of Sussex, University of York.
  3. Press Enquiries please contact Alistair Jarvis, Director of Communications, 1994 Group. Tel: 0207 872 5596. Email: alistair.jarvis@1994group.co.uk
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