GuildHE is today launching the Championing a Diverse Higher Education Sector Manifesto with a series of 7 recommendations to the next government. GuildHE believes that to have an innovative, diverse and impactful higher education sector the next government must do two things: enable students and higher education providers to thrive.

To support diverse and engaged students the next government must reform student support including:

  • Reinstate maintenance grants for students from lower socio-economic groups
  • Ensure that student loans cover basic student living costs and that all students that need it are eligible by revising the parental income threshold
  • Increase funding for university mental health services and incentivise a greater collaboration between education providers and the NHS.
  • Extend UKRI’s New Deal for Postgraduate Research Students to deliver improved support for all postgraduate taught and research students, irrespective of how they are funded. 

To protect a diverse higher education sector the next government should explicitly fund and promote diversity of provision and consider:

  • Specialist institutions have additional costs through small-class teaching and industry standard equipment. They aren’t able to cross-subsidise and so need additional direct funding for teaching – world leading specialist funding should be protected and a new high impact grant created for specialist institutions who are regionally or nationally important to growth.
  • Many smaller or specialist institutions are currently excluded from research or knowledge exchange funding streams due to their size or specialisms. Excellent research and knowledge exchange should be funded wherever it is found by, for example, removing the threshold to access the Higher Education Innovation Fund and gearing quality-related funding to support emergent and consolidating research environments.
  • Many smaller or specialist institutions don’t have additional resources to invest in moves towards net zero, or in technological innovations such as AI. There should be capital funding for smaller and specialist institutions to future-proof the sector. 

Gordon McKenzie, GuildHE Chief Executive said: 

“UK higher education is stronger for being diverse. Different institutional sizes, types, specialisms and missions nurture innovation and creativity. They mean more choice for students and employers, fresh approaches to research and business engagement and new ways of driving economic growth and enriching cultural and social prosperity. Diversity is essential for a fully effective higher education and research system.  

But the financial pressures facing higher education place this diversity at risk. This short manifesto sets out some ways to allow diverse institutions to thrive. 

A diverse sector is at its best when it supports a diverse range of students to fulfil their potential. This manifesto also calls on the next government to address the drastic shortfall in maintenance and put in place a student funding system that enables all students to succeed.”

Read / download the Championing a Diverse Higher Education Sector Manifesto