NUS proposes alternatives to a royal yacht

The National Union of Students has proposed 10 alternative uses for the £60 million that ministers apparently wanted invested in a royal yacht for the Queen’s jubilee.

January 16, 2012

According to a report in the Guardian newspaper today, Michael Gove, the education secretary, wrote a private letter to fellow ministers urging them to back plans for a yacht to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee later this year.

He says in it that “in spite, and perhaps because of, the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents”.

He adds: “My suggestion would be a gift from the nation to her majesty; thinking about [universities and science minister] David Willetts' excellent suggestion of a royal yacht, and something tangible to commemorate this momentous occasion.”

Number 10 moved quickly to distance itself from the suggestion that public money should be spent on a royal yacht, with Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, adding that “with very little money around, that this isn't top of [most people’s] list of priorities”.

However, Mr Gove has insisted that he never intended public money to be spent on the project, and this appears to be backed up by a letter sent by Mr Willetts to the Prime Minister in September.

The letter quoted by the Guardian highlights proposals for the “future ship project for the 21st century”, which are backed by Rear Admiral David Bawtree.

Further details of the project, which aims to build a cutting-edge "training and research sailing ship" are set out at

Mr Willetts stresses in his letter that the plan would not rely on public money, adding that it “could be used as a training resource for young people and could be made available to research funders as a research vessel”.

Despite this, the NUS has today proposed 10 alternative uses in further and higher education for the estimated £60 million that such a yacht would cost.

They include: covering the £9,000 university tuition fees for 6,500 students for one year; providing 45,000 students with the scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance for a year; and extending the first year £1,000 bursary element of the National Scholarship Prograame by two years for 30,000 students.

Other ideas put forward by the NUS are replacing more than three quarters of the budget for the scrapped Aimhigher scheme, which promoted widening access to higher education, and continuing the £60 million investment in improving college buildings that was announced last year.

Liam Burns, the NUS president, said: “Thankfully this ridiculous idea has already been ruled out, but we felt it was important to remind Mr Gove and Mr Willetts what benefits £60 million could bring to education.”

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study