London Higher responds to the Queens speech

On the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, Dr Diana Beech, Chief Executive of London Higher and author of a report on university free speech policies for the Joint Committee for Human Rights, says:

“Freedom of speech is integral to the work of universities across London and the wider higher education sector, and we are committed to ensuring our campuses remain places where diverse opinions and ideas thrive.

Following the enhanced protections set out in the Queen’s speech, we recognise the Government’s resolve to further defend free speech. We welcome the opportunity to work through the practical application of this legislation constructively with Ministers and the Office for Students to promote greater clarity of the rights and responsibilities for everyone involved, and to ensure any new registration requirements and reporting processes support the progress our universities are already making.

Ensuring our campuses are safe environments to work and study for students and staff is a priority shared by all our members.”

Responding to Government plans to revolutionise skills, Dr Diana Beech, says:

“With the greatest diversity of higher education provision in the country, London is prime to lead the charge towards a more flexible future for training and skills that our city and nation need. Indeed, many of our members are already working with each other across the capital to provide this.

As real lifebuoys in their localities, our members stand ready to get the capital back on its feet after Covid and help London’s vast and diverse population access the skills that will propel them into valuable careers.

London has never been a city where higher education has stood still. With much of the sector already boasting strong links with further education partners, close alignment to industry, and innovative part-time study options – not to mention instilling entrepreneurial spirit among graduates – now is the time to harness London universities’ ‘flex appeal’ to help shape a more fluid skills system for the future.”

Responding to plans to establish the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA), Dr Diana Beech, says:

We have known the establishment of an advanced research agency has been planned for some time and it is welcome news that the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to significantly boosting the UK’s science and research capabilities.

London’s universities have long been at the forefront of scientific discovery and we urge policymakers to ensure the new high-risk, high-pay off agency strengthens research and development across the whole country, including in the capital.

The global collaborations of London’s universities, together with their links to emerging industries, are a sure-fire way to ensure the UK achieves its ambition of becoming a science superpower more quickly. That’s why, as we come out of the pandemic and look to rebuild our economy for the future, London needs to be every bit a part of the Government’s new plan to invest in innovation”.