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  • Vince Cable (Vince Cable at Lib Dem conference in Southport. Photo courtesy of John Russell)
    Article: Jun 6, 2018
    By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

    Right from his first conference speech as leader of the Liberal Democrats (and indeed before that too), Vince Cable has talked of the need for a post-18 education policy which isn't just about the minority who go to university but which is also about the majority who don't:

    As a country we have systematically undervalued and disrespected the 60% of young people who do not go to university, and the 80% of adults who never went. That is why I have been working with the National Union of Students on a programme to help all young people.

  • John Marriott
    Article: Apr 11, 2018
    By John Marriott in Liberal Democrat Voice

    It wasn't always Tory v Labour, and it doesn't have to be again!

    State education, particularly at secondary level, is like the proverbial curate's egg, thanks largely to mistakes made by politicians of all parties over the past sixty years - and I include the 2010-2015 coalition as well. However, much of the mess was already in place by the beginning of this decade so I suppose that we could call it a joint affair between Tories and Labour. However, much of the success of state education is down to Liberals, as were the ideas behind the Welfare State, which emerged from the 1942 Beveridge Report.

  • Layla Moran
    Article: Mar 14, 2018
    By Caron Lindsay in Liberal Democrat Voice

    Back in the 70s, Margaret Thatcher was dubbed Thatcher the Milk Snatcher as she introduced cuts to free school milk. Nearly 50 years on, it's another Tory Government, in cahoots with the DUP, who are trying to restrict free school meals, which were introduced due to Lib Dem pressure during the coalition years.

  • Article: Feb 27, 2018
    In Liberal Democrat Voice

    Teachers and professors are amongst the most trusted and respected professions in the UK, so says IPSOS Mori's 2017 Veracity Index. Changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension scheme serving over 190,000 university staff in 92 higher education institutions, have shown no respect for lecturers and professors, alienating a huge number of academic staff and lowering morale on campus by asking them to do the same amount of work for less money.

  • Vince Cable in Twickenham
    Article: Feb 24, 2018
    By Vince Cable

    Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has written to universities minister Sam Gyimah, calling on the government to underwrite the universities pension scheme in order to unblock the impasse that is causing the strikes by lecturers.

    University lectures have started 14 days of strikes due to drastic changes to their pensions. They can expect to be left around £10,000 a year worse off in retirement as a result. The government must move to underwrite the Universities Superannuation Scheme, providing lectures and academic staff with guarantees that their pensions will be safe.

  • Norman Lamb
    Article: Feb 22, 2018
    By Katherine Sellgren BBC News family and education reporter in BBC

    Are you concerned about the impact social media and screen-use are having on young people? If so, MPs are looking to hear your thoughts.

    The Commons Science and Technology Committee has announced an inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people's health.

    The committee says it wants to hear the views of young people themselves, as well as of teachers and youth workers.

  • 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.

  • 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."