London Higher responds to the levelling up white paper

Commenting on today’s Levelling Up White Paper, Dr Diana Beech, CEO of London Higher said;

It is pleasing to see London recognised in today’s Levelling Up White Paper as one of the world’s ‘super-cities’ and that higher education institutions are seen as having a key role to play in delivering on this ambitious agenda. Yet the capital’s glaring inequalities show that opportunities for Londoners need levelling up too, and the lack of regional overview of London in the White Paper is concerning.

The city’s universities and higher education colleges stand ready to deliver on the new skills mission to improve people’s lives and boost the economy, and we call on the Government to give equal consideration to London institutions for strategic funding schemes, such as the Levelling Up Fund, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the Strength in Places Fund and other place-based funding sources.”

On the Skills mission, Dr Diana Beech said;

“We welcome the Government’s focus on different learning pathways, and many of our members are already leading the way in innovative HE-FE collaboration as well as Level 4 and 5 provision to equip learners of all ages and backgrounds with the skills they need for the local workforce.

Indeed, our partnership on the new Creative Academy Hub with Film London, Middlesex University and the Capital City College Group (CCCG), funded by the Mayor of London, is just one example of our commitment to skills training to help people into jobs in an important sector of London’s economy.”

On the Research and Development mission Dr Diana Beech said;

“Plans to direct domestic public research and development (R&D) investment outside the Greater South East region are akin to shutting the door on the capital and risk overlooking London’s world-leading research base which benefits the entire country.

Innovation is driven through collaboration and ideas, rather than place. London’s universities have been instrumental in the ground-breaking research to tackle Covid-19 alongside Oxford and Cambridge, and their discoveries and collaborations across the country continue to bring immense benefits to the health of the nation and economic recovery.

By holding money back from London, we are holding benefits back from the rest of the UK.”

On Education Investment Area (EIA) funding Dr Richard Boffey, Head of AccessHE at London Higher said;

“The Government clearly recognises educational attainment as a core pillar of levelling up and has outlined ambitious plans to improve outcomes for young people in school and college. This follows from recent guidance issued to universities, asking them to partner with local schools in efforts to boost education standards. London’s track record here is notable, with record pupil attainment at GCSE level and a higher proportion of students from underrepresented backgrounds progressing into further study than in any other English region.

Yet this cannot be sustained without the proper resource and infrastructure. Today’s announcements suggest that London will not receive Education Investment Area (EIA) funding. At the same time, the future of other key programmes driving school-university collaboration, such as Uni Connect, remains unclear. Universities in the capital may rightly feel that they are now being asked to do more with less when it comes to levelling up through extending educational opportunities.”

On Arts funding, Dr Diana Beech said;

“The creative industries are what makes London’s economy tick – attracting visitors from around the globe, enhancing scientific and technological innovations, and supporting jobs across the regions with talent from London’s dynamic creative higher education providers.

To direct 100 per cent of the Arts Council England funding uplift away from London on an arbitrary geographical basis negates the fact that Central London has been disproportionately hard hit by Covid and jeopardises our national cultural and economic recovery”.

Notes to editors;

  • With over 40 members, London Higher is the largest regional representative body of its kind in England and works with local, national, and international policymakers to showcase London as a world-class higher education and research destination and centre of excellence, and to increase student and staff satisfaction in the capital.
  • Uni Connect is the Office for Students’ flagship collaborative outreach initiative, bringing together regional partnerships of schools, colleges and higher education providers to support young people from underrepresented backgrounds to progress into and through a wide range of post-secondary pathways. London Higher co-delivers the Uni Connect programme in London through its AccessHE division and engages a network of nearly 300 schools through this work. We support some of the most vulnerable young people in the capital, including those outside of mainstream education settings and pupils who are care experienced, with skills development sessions as well as information and advice.
  • Details of London Higher’s involvement in the new Creative Skills Academy, announced on 31 January 2022 as part of the Mayor of London’s Academies Programme, can be found here.
  • On Skills: Examples of how London Higher members are developing innovative learning pathways include the LSBU Group, comprising London South Bank University, Lambeth College, South Bank University Academy, South Bank UTC and South Bank University Enterprises Ltd, which has developed career-focused pathways across institutions to open up opportunities for diverse student cohorts and remove barriers to access, participation and success.
  • On R&D: Since the emergence of Covid-19, several London universities have been at the forefront of research tackling the pandemic, including Imperial College London’s Covid-19 Response Team and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Vaccine Centre and Centre for the Modelling of Infectious Diseases .
  • For more examples of how London Higher members are already working ‘beyond the campus’ to improve life in London’s local communities, please view our London Higher Civic Map.