Chris Skidmore may not be in office for long, but his choice of setting and conciliatory tone in yesterday’s inaugural speech suggest there will be changes from the Johnson/Gyimah era.
Not since David Willetts in 2010 has a universities minister arrived in post waving an olive branch rather than a brickbat. “I am not going to be a minister who comes in and beats up or needlessly berates the sector,” Skidmore declared yesterday at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he spoke effusively about also being the minister for the arts and humanities.
There was implied criticism for the view that arts and humanities qualifications are of lower value than science, technology, engineering and maths on the grounds that arts graduates earn comparatively less. “How you define value for money depends heavily on how you envisage the kind of world you want to live in,” he said emphatically.