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  • Eight schoolchildren working at a table supervised by a teacher.
    Article: Feb 19, 2018
    By Layla Moran

    The Conservatives are turning back the clock on sex education. They're abdicating responsibility and our children will pay the price.

    In interviews with The Sunday Times and Andrew Marr, new Education Secretary Damian Hinds signalled he would encourage restrictions on pupils' rights to sex education.

  • International students (Photo: Geoff Caddick/PA)
    Article: Feb 15, 2018
    By Paul Walter in Liiberal Democrat Voice

    On Tuesday the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, joined academics, students, business leaders and other politicians at a rally in support of international students. London Frist's "Stand up don't be counted" campaign aims to take students out of the UK's net migration target.

    The photo above shows Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, Paul Currran, President of City University, Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Tulip Siddiq MP attending the rally in Torrington Square, London.

  • Brexit Rand
    Article: Jan 8, 2018
    By Layla Moran

    There has been an alarming rise in EU academics leaving our universities - and it's the latest sign of a damaging Brexodus.

    Almost 2,350 academics from the EU have resigned from UK universities in the past year, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. That's up 19% from 1,975 two years ago (i.e. before the Brexit vote), and up 10% from 1,938 last year.

    There are over 25,400 academics at UK universities from elsewhere in the EU. Of these 6,633 are employed by departments working on 'STEM' subjects such as engineering, maths and computing, where the UK faces serious skills shortages.

    Another 4,922 work on health sciences, nursing or medicine, and 1,307 on business.

    516 academics teaching medicine or life sciences have quit in the past year, up 40% on two years ago, while 316 academics teaching STEM subjects quit in the past year, up 14% on two years ago.

    The universities with the largest numbers of EU academics were Oxford (1702), Cambridge (1662) and King's College London (1558).

    The figures are based on Freedom of Information responses compiled by the Liberal Democrats from 105 universities.

    This alarming rise in EU academics leaving our universities is the latest sign of a damaging Brexodus.

    Britain's universities have thrived from having access to talented European researchers, and from years of European cooperation through schemes like Horizon 2020 and Erasmus.

    Now all this is being put at risk by this government's botched handling of Brexit, where we seem to be losing all the benefits of EU membership while keeping the costs.

    These valued members of our communities find themselves uncertain about the future and unconvinced by the too little too late wooing by an incompetent Prime Minister. While they were frozen out of the referendum, they are now voting with their feet.

    If the government had done the right thing and guaranteed the rights of EU nationals from the start, perhaps fewer talented academics would have left the country.

    All this strengthens the case for giving people the chance to protect our universities, jobs and the economy through an exit from Brexit.

  • University Students
    Article: Jan 3, 2018
    By Lizzy Buchan Political Correspondent in The Independent

    Exclusive: Investigation reveals 'deeply concerning' waits to see counsellors for struggling undergraduates across the country.

    Students are having to wait for more than four months for counselling and mental health support in some universities, as suicide rates on campuses hit record levels, new figures show.

    Campaigners condemned "deeply concerning" variations in provision of care for undergraduates across the country, with waits of more than four weeks for treatment at 21 universities.

    Delays to diagnosis and treatment can lead to crisis situations among young students, who are burdened with increasing financial stress from huge debts and uncertain career prospects after leaving university, according to experts.

    It comes after a study by the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) revealed that a record 134 students killed themselves in 2015, while the number of first-year undergraduates reporting a mental health concern rose fivefold to reach 15,395.

    New figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests to more than 100 universities reveal a postcode lottery of waiting times for treatment.

    One of the longest waits in the last five years was experienced by a student at Glasgow University, who waited 146 days for treatment. However the university stressed that there are many reasons why a delay can occur, including a student's choice to defer their appointment.

    A spokesman said: "Our most recent statistics (1 August - 1 November 2017) for general counselling appointments show that 88 per cent of referrals were seen within three weeks, and that 55 per cent more students have been assessed compared to the same period in the previous academic year.

    "Our figures also show that almost 40 per cent fewer students are waiting for assistance compared to the same time in the last academic year."

    Other universities reported long waits including Sheffield Hallam with 148 days, 127 days at Southampton Solent and nearly four months at University of Exeter.

    Liberal Democrat former health minister Norman Lamb, who obtained the figures, said it was "disappointing" that some institutions were lagging behind, pointing to figures that show nearly 60 universities have increased their funding for mental health provision in the last year.

    Mr Lamb said: "Every university has a duty to provide decent support to its students. Any that fails to do so must be challenged. It can no longer be tolerated.

    "Moving to university can be a particularly challenging and stressful time for many young people, with some struggling to adapt to moving away often from home, family and other support networks.

    "That is why it is doubly important that universities provide easily accessible support to those struggling with mental health conditions."

    The analysis shows 58 universities having increased funding for mental health provision in the past year while 12 have slashed spending.

    Meanwhile 41 universities have cut the number of counsellors on their books over the past year.

    Rachel Boyd, information manager at Mind, said: "We are happy to see that some progress is being made to prioritise student mental health.

    "However it is deeply concerning that in some universities, students are having to wait up to nine months to access mental health services.

    "There are lots of different reasons why students might experience a mental health problem, but university life does pose some unique challenges.

    "Today's students also now face an unprecedented financial burden with student loan and tuition fee debt higher than ever before.

    "On the other side of this is the financial stress and uncertainty around employment on graduation. Both of these can be major contributors to mental health problems like anxiety and depression."

    A spokesperson for Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, said: "Universities take student mental health very seriously. For some students, an unfamiliar higher education environment can be stressful, particularly for those who already have an underlying illness.

    "Dealing with mental health is an issue for society as a whole, not just for universities. The challenge for universities is to build on the support services and external links that exist already, enabling referral to the NHS where necessary.

    "Universities UK issued guidance to all universities in 2015 with advice on dealing with students with mental health issues. Universities UK has also launched a new framework for university leaders, aimed at embedding mental health and wellbeing across all university activities."

    A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We expect universities to support students.

    "That is why we have issued guidance encouraging universities to focus on this important issue and we have worked closely with Universities UK on its ongoing programme designed to significantly improve the mental health support available to students."

  • Vince Cable
    Article: Jan 3, 2018
    By Vince Cable

    It's about time the government dropped its completely self-harming approach.

    It has been reported that Theresa May will be forced into dropping foreign students from official immigration figures.

    For years Theresa May has stubbornly refused to accept that international students are not immigrants, while the Home Office has wildly exaggerated the number of those who overstay.

    This absurd policy has fuelled concerns over immigration numbers and done serious damage to our universities.

    It's about time the government dropped this completely self-harming approach.

    International students generate over £25 billion for our economy and support thousands of jobs across the country.

    We should be encouraging more students to come and spend their money in the UK, instead of needlessly hampering one of Britain's most successful export industries.

  • Disabled Children - Vince
    Article: Dec 1, 2017
    By Kirsten Johnson in Liberal Democrat Voice

    Yesterday, the Disabled Children's Partnership campaign was launched in parliament. Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable came along to show his support, as well as many other MPs, peers, charities and family representatives. I was also pleased that former Care Minister Norman Lamb MP, was also able to come meet families.

  • Layla Moran (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Nov 22, 2017

    Teachers and police officers will be left £3,000 worse off by 2020 due to the Chancellor's refusal to lift the public sector pay freeze, Liberal Democrats have revealed.

    Liberal Democrat research based on OBR figures shows that:

    • A newly qualified teacher on £22,970 will be £3,032 worse off by 2020 as a result of the public sector pay freeze.

    • A newly trained police officer on £22,962 will be £3,031 worse off by 2020 as a result of the public sector pay freeze.

    • A prison officer starting on £23,572 will be £3,112 worse off by 2020 as a result of the public sector pay freeze.

    • A private starting on £18,488 will be £2,440 worse off by 2020 as a result of the public sector pay freeze.
    Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

  • Vince Cable (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Nov 10, 2017
    By Kirsten Johnson in Liberal Democrat Voice

    The papers today have been full of Vince Cable's proposal that all 16-year olds should have access to an £18,000 endowment for education.

    Here is an extract from The Sun:

    Teenagers should get £18,000 to spend on further education to re-balance inequality between the generations, Sir Vince Cable has said.

  • Rebecca Taylor - Candidate for Morley & Outwood Constituency
    Article: Nov 8, 2017
    By Rebecca Taylor in Liberal Democrat Voice

    It is widely recognised that the UK has a mid-level skills gap, which means employers can struggle to recruit for medium skilled occupations. At the same time, it can be hard for established workers (those over 25) to retrain or upskill if they aren't supported by their employer or can't self-fund.

  • Swinson conference
    Article: Nov 7, 2017

    Talking about periods apparently is still taboo. In fact we have had to wait until this month, in 2017 for the first ad ever in the UK to show a hand pouring a test-tube of blood-coloured liquid onto a sanitary towel, in lieu of the standard sterile-blue.

    The advert, which forms part of a new campaign called 'Blood Normal', attempts to get rid of the embarrassment around the 'Aunt Flo' after a recent survey found that nine out of ten women attempt to hide the fact they are on their period, and 56% of girls said they would rather be bullied at school than talk to their parents about periods.