Gillian Keegan is fifth education secretary in four months

Ex-skills minister joined in Cabinet by Grant Shapps as business secretary, while Suella Braverman reappointed home secretary

October 25, 2022
Gillian Keegan
Source: UK Parliament
Gillian Keegan

Gillian Keegan has been appointed education secretary in the Westminster government by the new prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

The former skills minister succeeds Kit Malthouse, who left the Cabinet on 25 October as Mr Sunak took office.

She becomes the fifth education secretary to serve in the post within four months – a sign of the level of turbulence in the Conservative government.

Meanwhile, Suella Braverman has returned as home secretary days after resigning under the former prime minister, Liz Truss – a potential worry for universities given her aims to cut net migration and student visas. And Grant Shapps succeeds Jacob Rees-Mogg as business secretary, responsible for research funding.

Ms Keegan, the MP for Chichester since 2017, holds degrees from Liverpool John Moores University and London Business School. Before that, she began her working life at age 16 with an apprenticeship at an electronics firm in Kirby, near Liverpool. Her subsequent business career included a spell as chief marketing officer of travel firm Travelport.

As she returns to the Department for Education, key issues impacting higher education will include the level of public spending cuts sought by the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.

The Sunak government will have to decide whether to press forward with plans for student number controls and minimum entry requirements – potentially a route to controlling spending on higher education – which the Boris Johnson government said it would implement via legislation, in a bid to address quality concerns.

The Sunak government will also need to make a decision on whether to press forward with the lifelong loan entitlement announced by the Johnson government.

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