Specialist and smaller universities, colleges and other higher education providers are agile, entrepreneurial and well positioned to support the recovery and growth of all parts of the UK. They are firmly rooted in the professions and businesses they serve and actively nurture their social and cultural communities. GuildHE institutions have been a critical part of the country’s effort against COVID-19 and have a great deal to offer in helping the economy to recover.

GuildHE’s submission to the 2020 government Comprehensive Spending Review

Our response to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review sets out three ways government and specialist and smaller providers can work together to achieve socio-economic recovery from the pandemic and longer-term growth for individuals, professions and places throughout the UK.


  1. Building back Britain after the pandemic requires skilled individuals working in key economic and public sectors. 


This requires working with the full diversity of educators to fix multiple skills pipelines. Specialist and smaller universities, colleges and other higher education providers are the applied research and education specialists for important economic sectors such as art, design and media, music and the performing arts; agriculture and food; education; law, business and finance; the built environment; health and sports. For example, GuildHE institutions account for 41% of undergraduate and postgraduate students studying agriculture and related subjects in the UK.


  2. Realising the potential of individuals throughout the UK requires a fair and ambitious approach.


This requires flexible funding for students, researchers and institutions. This includes supporting students at any age, from leaving school through to research careers, ensuring all students regardless of background continue to have access to higher education and targeted funding for smaller research environments wherever they are based. This includes reintroduce maintenance grants for disadvantaged students to achieve strong outcomes for a diverse mix of students throughout the UK.


 3. Levelling up requires real understanding of local inequalities so that places around the UK can thrive 


This requires devolving power to regions and listening to expertise developed in different communities. Smaller institutions know their regions well and will be a critical part of generating economic recovery in those areas hit hardest and with potentially the longest road to recovery. They should be supported through fairer innovation funding to channel national and international opportunities to their places and professions. This includes reforming and tripling the size of the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to £750m.


Where next

We will be exploring the themes and ideas laid out in our submission over the coming months through a series of blogs, think pieces and reports. 

However it’s clear that the higher education sector is well positioned to support the recovery and growth of all parts of the UK. It’s equally clear that levelling up means investing across the full spectrum of teaching, research and development in order to achieve success for people and place. This Spending Review offers the chance to do things differently and to ultimately build Britain back stronger and prepared to face the challenges of the ‘20s. Specialist and smaller higher education providers can be a linchpin in that change. 



You can view GuildHE’s full response to the Spending Review here