Andrea Jenkyns confirmed as minister covering higher education

Minister’s title no longer includes ‘higher education’ and responsibilities no longer include ‘universities and higher education reform’

九月 27, 2022

The Department for Education has belatedly confirmed the reappointment of Andrea Jenkyns as minister for skills in the Liz Truss government, with responsibility for higher education issues but without “higher education” in her job title.

Ms Jenkyns was first appointed minister for skills, further and higher education in July in the dying days of the Boris Johnson government, amid turmoil caused by a raft of ministerial resignations aimed at ousting the then prime minister.

The Morley and Outwood MP was then reappointed as a minister in the DfE on 8 September after Liz Truss became prime minister, but her role was not confirmed.

On 27 September, the DfE finally confirmed that Ms Jenkyns has been reappointed as minister for skills – but with “higher education” no longer appearing in the title of her role.

It is thought that the DfE does not intend to signal any change of emphasis with the new title, but that it is meant to reflect the role of universities in providing skills in the economy and the government’s aim to break down barriers between vocational and academic routes.

The list of her responsibilities on the DfE website includes “strategy for post-16 education”, “higher education quality”, “student experience and widening participation in higher education”, “student finance and the lifelong loan entitlement (including the Student Loans Company)” and “international education strategy and the Turing scheme”.

Michelle Donelan was the previous holder of those responsibilities, as minister for further and higher education. She was appointed as education secretary by Mr Johnson in July, then resigned after just two days in the post. Kit Malthouse had already been announced as education secretary in the Truss government.

But while Ms Donelan’s list of responsibilities included “universities and higher education reform”, there is no such responsibility listed for Ms Jenkyns.

In Ms Donelan’s time as minister, the government planned to introduce a minimum entry requirement and student number controls to restrict entry into higher education.

Ms Donelan’s exit also brought the departure of her former adviser, Iain Mansfield, long a key driver of higher education policy in the DfE and seen as a “culture warrior” on free speech and other issues relating to universities.

Universities are likely to hope that the new government has less interest in minimum entry requirements and student number controls.

While Ms Donelan was a minister of state attending cabinet, Ms Jenkyns is a more junior Parliamentary undersecretary of state.

At the time of her initial appointment by Mr Johnson, Ms Jenkyns attracted considerable media coverage by raising her middle finger to a crowd gathered outside Downing Street.



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