Tory triumph sets universities on road to EU referendum

The Conservatives have secured a majority after standing on a platform to seek an EU referendum and further tighten immigration rules, which could impact on universities.

May 8, 2015

After a disastrous night for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, David Cameron has returned to Downing Street as prime minister.

The Conservatives have pledged to hold an in-out referendum on the UK’s EU membership by 2017.

Universities UK is likely to campaign against an exit. The organisation has previously argued that UK universities benefit from £1.2 billion a year in European research income.  

On funding, Vince Cable, the former Lib Dem business secretary who lost his Twickenham seat to the Tories last night, had previously warned that a Conservative government could raise fees “significantly” after 2015.

Former Tory leader William Hague said this week that a rise in fees in the next Parliament had not been ruled out.

On immigration, the Tory manifesto says the party would “keep our ambition of delivering annual net migration in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands”, a policy that has previously brought claims from UK universities that overseas student recruitment is being harmed.

The manifesto also says a Tory government would “reform the student visa system with new measures to tackle abuse and reduce the numbers of students overstaying once their visas expire”.

The manifesto pledges to “ensure that universities deliver the best possible value for money to students”. It commits to “introduce a framework to recognise universities offering the highest teaching quality” and “require more data to be openly available to potential students so that they can make decisions informed by the career paths of past graduates”.

On research funding, the manifesto says: “Through the Nurse Review of research councils, we will seek to ensure that the UK continues to support world-leading science, and invests public money in the best possible way.”

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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Reader's comments (3)

Vince Cable is a bitter old man. Libdems had their last their days in the government, and Cable behaved like a Nawab and not a team player in that coalition government. As for universities, they should accept that people of this country have chosen a majority Tory government, having listened to all parties, and having read their manifestos . That is the democratic verdict. As for universities in this country benefitting from £1.2 billion a year in European research income, I would like this organisation publish this data in detail. I have been involved in European research at the EU end in the STEM areas, and if anything, except a small core, most UK universities do not compete well with their counterparts in the EU in terms of the quality of their research funding proposals. "On immigration, the Tory manifesto says the party would “keep our ambition of delivering annual net migration in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands”, Well, again many colleagues say to me that except a very small core of Russell Group universities, the brightest and the best non-EU students in STEM areas do not apply to other universities. It is even questionable that those who apply to the above small core of Russell Group universities are indeed the brightest and the best.
"Libdems had their days". Sorry for the mistake.
The UK has received more than £5 billion from Framework Programme 7 (FP7) and won more funding in 2012-13 than any other Member State. Based on this success, the former Research Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, predicted the UK could win up to £2 billion in the first two years of Horizon 2020.2 http://www.russellgroup.ac.uk/uploads/58-Russell-Group-briefing-on-European-Fund-for-Strategic-Investments.pdf

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