David Lammy, who served as higher education minister between 2008 and 2010, also laments the UK’s relatively low research spending in his Early Day Motion on the “Knowledge Economy”.
The House of Commons motion, tabled on 15 July, has been signed by Tim Farron, president of the Liberal Democrats. Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and advocate for science, is another signatory, as is Peter Bottomley, Conservative MP for Worthing West.
The motion has also attracted signatories from Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party MP, and several other Labour Party MPs.
Mr Lammy’s motion says that the House “notes with concern that the UK invests 1.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in higher education, compared with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 1.7 per cent”.
The motion also expresses concern that “spending on research and development at 1.8 per cent of GDP is also lower than the EU- average of 2.0 per cent”. And it laments that the UK “has fallen from third among the top industrialised nations in terms of young people graduating in 2000 to 15th in 2013”.
It argues that “access to high quality tertiary education provides enhanced life chances for individuals, significant benefits for society and is essential for the UK’s long-term economic sustainability”, as well as noting that “countries like Germany, India and China have prioritised investment in education in response to the economic crisis”.
Mr Lammy’s motion then “calls on the government to recognise these benefits and commit the UK to funding tertiary education at a level that can close the international competitive gap in investment with other countries and enable the UK to compete on an equal footing”.