In the news: Will Cavendish

July 27, 2001

Environment ministers will have been preoccupied this week by climate-change talks in Bonn, but the discussions will also have sparked interest from the Department for Education and Skills.

Will Cavendish, shortly to become a special advisor to education secretary Estelle Morris, has an extensive interest in climate change as an economist who has specialised in southern Africa. He is also an outspoken critic of nuclear power.

He took his first degree in politics, philosophy and economics at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he stayed to study for an MSc in development economics, before gaining a PhD in environmental economics at St Anthony's College, Oxford. After spells as a junior research fellow at St John's College, Oxford, and a research officer in the university's economics department, he moved to London to join the environmental policy and management group at Imperial College.

Much of his work has focused on Africa, where he has travelled widely, studying rural inequality and poverty and environmental issues. He has also been active closer to home with involvement in his local Labour Party in Oxford and as a school governor.

When he was appointed head of policy in the Labour Party in July last year he defended policy forums, which have been criticised for taking decision-making away from the party conference, but said he wanted to encourage better communication between the party and the government.

His direct experience of higher education should help raise the profile of the sector within the Education and Skills Department, although it has not left him over-respectful of students.

While serving on Oxford City Council, Mr Cavendish was presented with an incomprehensible document from students asking for better communication with councillors. He said it appeared that they were trying too hard to show how clever they were.

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