We are pleased to see the priorities of stability, growth and public services outlined by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today. We agree that “being pro education is being pro growth”, but are disappointed that higher education was not explicitly mentioned in the broad context of skills. London’s universities and higher education institutions are key drivers of the UK economy. From providing life-changing skills and innovations to furnishing Britain’s public and private sectors with the high-level talent they need, London’s higher education sector is a national asset and must be empowered by today’s Autumn Statement.
London’s higher education sector changes lives – not just of those receiving a higher education themselves, but of all those in society benefiting from graduates’ skills. While a focus on a stronger NHS and extra funding to the NHS in today’s budget is welcome, in order to do this, we must channel investment to the universities which are educating the healthcare workers of the future. Together, London’s higher education institutions train 48,000 essential public sector workers annually. Increasing this number by supporting even more future training places is essential to running our key public services successfully in the years ahead.
Finally, it is reassuring to see the Chancellor’s recommitment to the 2.4% target and increasing public funding for research and development (R&D) to £20bn by 2024/25. The way to deliver the world-class innovation that the Chancellor speaks of, and to make the UK a science superpower, is to support our world-leading universities and higher education institutions of all types and specialisms. Science and innovation borne in London forms the cornerstone of a successful UK R&D ecosystem. As the most impactful corner of the Golden Triangle, with institutions in the London region ranking higher for research excellence than the London, East of England and the South-East regions combined, we want to see London’s research funding allocation protected against any future redistribution, to ensure we keep firing up the engine-room of UK R&D while building up capacity in the regions.