The focus on reducing ‘poor quality university degrees’ in today’s King’s speech is a concern, given than more than half of businesses in the UK are currently experiencing skills shortages. This is according to the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), a membership organisation of UK universities and businesses.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive NCUB said “It’s concerning that today’s King’s Speech referenced cutting down ‘poor quality university degrees’. At a time of serious and widespread economic uncertainty, we should be celebrating the fact that our nation’s universities generate the skilled and versatile workforce that businesses require, contributing to the nation’s recovery in the post-pandemic era. Having a degree is typically associated with higher wages, increasing opportunity and driving productivity.”

Marshall continued “More worrying still is that the type of course selected for a cap is more likely to be one with a high proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This punishes universities that push boundaries to widen social mobility.”

Marshall concluded: “We do however recognise and commend today’s focus on increasing the number of young people undertaking high quality apprenticeships. Diversifying pathways into education is vital if we are to meet future skills needs and the need for action to address our chronic skills crisis in the short and medium term remains. We are calling on the Government to create a dedicated body responsible for gathering labour market insights to inform future policymaking. This body should play a crucial role in enhancing the understanding of labour market needs for businesses, universities, and the Government alike.”