I was surprised and disappointed to hear that David Willetts, the universities and science minister, labelled Yeovil an “obvious cold spot” for higher education in a speech to the Universities UK conference in London on 3 April.
We are lucky enough in Yeovil to have not only a dedicated higher education institution, but one that has been established for 10 years and continues to thrive, grow and develop.
In the past decade, more than 3,000 students have graduated from the University Centre Yeovil, each making a valuable contribution to both the economy and the community through their new-found skills and higher-level knowledge.
The University Centre Yeovil has continued to expand the range of professional and degree-level courses on offer year on year, while working closely with significant national and international businesses. In addition, the centre is actively supported by key individuals from the local community including Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, who accepted the role of fellow in 2003, followed by David Laws, the local MP, in 2006.
We would like to invite the minister to visit Yeovil and the University Centre, so that he can hear from current students about the higher education opportunities on offer in Yeovil. For many students, moving away from home to gain a degree is simply not an option. If it were not for the flexibility, choice of courses and student support that the University Centre offers, right here in Yeovil, these individuals would not have been able to reach their full potential and, in turn, contribute to both local and national economic growth.