Policy Update – November 2022

Sharon Witherspoon MBE FAcSS, Head of Policy, Academy of Social Sciences 

New appointments in Rishi Sunak’s government

Yet again, a new government.  At the time of writing, the Secretaries of State have been announced, as well as some Ministers.

The new Secretary of State for Education is Gillian Keegan. She has a degree in Business Studies and an MSc from the London Business School.  She started work as an apprentice, and is known to have a great interest in apprenticeships and vocational skills.  It is not yet clear if there will be a Minister for Higher Education.

The new BEIS Secretary of State is Grant Shapps.  He will be in charge of the UKRI and science budget.  George Freeman has been reappointed the Minister for Science, though Nusrat Ghani may have some continuing interest.

Autumn fiscal statement and HE funding issues

The autumn fiscal statement will now take place on 17 November. There are some concerns that the planned increase in the science budget may be delayed or cancelled.

Other HE funding issues and uncertainties remain unchanged.  The Office for Students continues its regulatory work.

Other policy developments

Meanwhile, the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech Bill) is still expected to become law; it is at the committee stage in the House of Lords.

Although Chris Skidmore’s rapid review to ensure the government’s 2050 net zero target is “pro-business” and “pro-growth” ends its formal evidence-taking on October 27, social scientists with expertise should still engage with the review if they can.

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