Benjamin Franklin said that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. When inequality is driving anger on our streets it’s a good time to explore how knowledge might redress things.
Universities are facing economic disaster. COVID will see a significant drop in overseas students and a rise in deferrals for home students. Some may not survive without support.
It seems a good time for Government to step in with temporary funding on a promise of reform, cost cutting and restructuring. This is fair, universities are significant UK assets and haven’t competed with schools or NHS for public cash for years.
If the levelling up agenda is still alive, funding shouldn’t just be aimed at the top tier of the Russell Group. Instead, the Government could create ‘Opportunity Areas’ – like what happened for schools – pushing funds towards poorer communities and those universities increasing life chances.
Universities can change lives and communities. It only happens if barriers are removed and target groups of students enrol and stay the course. Support for this important sector should focus on making that happen for the communities who need it most.
That’s an investment that will pay interest for the country. It worked for schools; and levelling up shouldn’t stop at 18.
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