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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 16:36 GMT
University expertise 'key to success'
university researcher
Review will seek to strengthen business links
The Chancellor has said universities have a crucial role to play in driving Britain's fortunes in the global economy.

So there is to be a review of the links between higher education and the business community.

There will also be a new push to improve people's work skills and to encourage teenagers to stay in education or training past the age of 16.

And "because the enterprise culture begins in our classrooms" Gordon Brown has confirmed he will put 75m into a scheme to promote an entrepreneurial spirit among pupils.

That is his formal response to a report he commissioned by the chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Howard Davies.

Funding pledge

Universities are still waiting to learn how much core funding they will have for next year.

Gordon Brown gave no hint on what will be in the government's postponed strategy document for higher education, now due in January.

He did say that - despite the economic downturn - he will still be able to meet his pledge to put an extra 15bn a year into UK education as a whole by 2006.

And he was keen to focus on what higher education could do to bolster the economy.

"It is the flexibility of our product, capital and labour markets, the strength of Britain's science base, the level of British research and development, and the scale and dynamism of knowledge transfer from our universities to our businesses that will drive our productivity growth and thus future prosperity," Mr Brown said.

Long-term links

Britain's most innovative companies had to work ever more closely with Britain's most enterprising research universities.

As part of the trade and industry secretary's new review of government support for innovation, they had commissioned a review of how the long-term links between British business and British universities could be strengthened.

This would build on the research and development tax credit and the University Challenge and Higher Education Innovation funds.

The review will be carried out by the former editor of the Financial Times, Richard Lambert.

Universities have in the past criticised the time and effort they have to put in to bidding for such funding.


In a debate in the House of Lords on funding problems in higher education, Tory former education secretary Lord Baker of Dorking said universities were "underfunded, over-controlled and bullied".

He said the US was more successful because it used private money.

In Britain "not only are the funds inadequate but the education department wants more students".

"The Department of Trade and Industry wants world class research, the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants laboratories of social engineering and I think the real trouble is that Gordon Brown treats universities as a nationalised industry, almost the last of the nationalised industries."

He said he hoped the present Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, would wrest back control over university policy.

Skills drive

The government is also setting up a "taskforce" to promote Modern Apprenticeships.

It will be led by Sir Roy Gardner, chief executive of Centrica, and will include people from across industry and the education and training sector.

There are currently 150 Modern Apprenticeship schemes on offer to youngsters aged between 16 and 24.

Ministers have also set themselves "an ambitious new target to increase the participation of young people in post-16 education and training".

By 2010, they want 90% of all 22 year olds to have participated in a full-time programme fitting them for entry into higher education or skilled employment.

Other measures aim to help the estimated eight million low-skilled workers in the UK.

Financial basics

Turning to the Davies Report on classroom enterprise, Mr Brown said the education secretary was announcing that he would spend 75m over three years "to promote enterprise education in our schools and colleges".

Mr Davies suggested in February that there should be a programme which could offer pupils a grounding in the basics of finance and the economy.

Mr Brown said then: "I want every young person to hear about business and enterprise in school, every college student to be made aware of the opportunities in business, even to start a business, and every teacher to be able to communicate the virtues of business and enterprise."

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See also:

04 Apr 01 | Education
22 Aug 02 | Education
27 Nov 02 | N Ireland
14 Feb 02 | Education
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