Go back

Election debate: Universities ‘will be removed from culture wars’

Image: crbellette, via Getty Images

Shadow minister pledges universities will not be a political football as UK party leaders clash

Labour’s shadow science secretary, Peter Kyle, has promised that universities will no longer be used as a political football if his party comes to power.

Speaking after an address at Keele University on 4 June, Kyle said he would bring an end to the current government’s “war on universities” if Labour forms a government after next month’s election. He also criticised prime minister Rishi Sunak’s recent attack on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. 

“The war against universities will stop if there is a Labour government,” Kyle said, in comments first reported by the Financial Times.

His words came on the same day that Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer participated in the first television debate of the 2024 election campaign.

Future of skills

During the debate, responding to a question on the future of skills training in the UK, Starmer said the important thing was to have “the education opportunities you need, whether that’s university or technical skills—they’re equivalent, they’re very important”.

His father, who was a toolmaker, “went down the skills route”, Starmer said, while he was the first in his family to go to university.

Sunak said that the country needed “to make sure our young people…have the opportunities they deserve, so that’s why we will introduce the modern form of national service”.

The government’s national service policy would require young people to complete a community programme over a 12-month period, or enrol in a year-long military training scheme.