The National Union of Students (NUS) today responded to the appointment of Chris Skidmore as the new Universities and Science Minister.
"The new minister will assume office at a critical time for our sector.
The government is in chaos: there is now a great uncertainty caused by the ongoing Brexit catastrophe, highlighted by the previous minister’s resignation and subsequent call for a People’s Vote.
The challenges are manifest: a pressing need to address the funding deficit within Higher Education in the wake of the Augar review, to ensure that our institutions are appropriately resourced and students are financially supported. Successive ministers’ attempts to enforce a market on higher education are leaving our universities at risk of collapse; the new minister must protect them from this and not herald in measures such as differential fees which serve to exacerbate the worst excesses of marketisation.
We hope that this appointment will mark the end of the long-running crusade against the blight of so-called campus censorship. There is no evidence of wide-spread suppression of free speech at universities, and I hope that the minister will reflect upon the indiscretions of his own past when considering those small number of isolated cases oft-dwelled upon by politicians and those within media.
Although the appointment of a minister with such a history will no doubt raise eyebrows amongst some, he now has an opportunity to take real action and engage with the voice of students to build an equitable and accessible education system that works for all students."