THE economic contribution made by leading Russell Group universities like York should never be taken for granted as a renewed debate intensifies about the relevance, and value, of higher education.
Not only is the university integral to York’s economy, but its cutting-edge research and innovation has national and international impact. Yet, as new research reveals that the total value of the university’s work equates to £1.8bn a year, it is important that the work of leading academics, researchers and students is not compromised by Brexit.
After all, the success of Yorkshire’s universities can be attributed, in part, to their ability to attract students, and other expertise, from around the world.
That said, this should not be a time for complacency. Quite the opposite. Like other parts of the public sector, some universities are struggling to justify the excessive salary packages commanded by a select number of vice-chancellors.
Furthermore, there is renewed concern that a significant number of degrees are not relevant to today’s economy – or do not provide graduates with relevant skills. Given the cost of providing such courses, and the debts incurred by the students concerned, there does need to be a greater premium value on value for money in 2019.
Students should be going to university to broaden their horizon and enhance their career potential. In too many cases, they’re none the wiser about their future plans after three years of academic study. This mindset needs to change so the work – and reputation – of universities like York is not compromised.