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Confusion arises over education secretary’s degree claim

Image by David Woolfall [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Gillian Keegan said she was offered choice of institution name to appear on certificate

A claim by the education secretary that she opted for her degree to carry the name of Liverpool Polytechnic rather than Liverpool John Moores University has been cast into doubt after the university suggested that this could not have been the case.

Speaking on a panel at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on 3 October, Gillian Keegan said that when she graduated in business studies she was given a choice of which institution name should feature on her certificate.

“They asked me…because halfway through [my studies] it became Liverpool John Moores, actually at the end…and they asked me what I wanted my certificate [to say], and I said ‘Liverpool Polytechnic’,” Keegan told the fringe session, organised by the Policy Exchange think tank. “I was very proud to go to a polytechnic,” she added.

However, according to Keegan’s LinkedIn profile, she graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 1991, when it was still known as Liverpool Polytechnic. The institution gained the university title in 1992. There is also no mention of Liverpool Polytechnic on Keegan’s webpage, which states that she graduated from Liverpool John Moores University. 

According to the university, students who graduated at any point up until July 1992 would have had Liverpool Polytechnic on their award. Only awards made after September 1992 were made in the name of Liverpool John Moores, it stated.

The university confirmed to Research Professional News that there was a “short period” when former polytechnic students could order and pay for an “alumni certificate” bearing the name of Liverpool John Moores University. But there was no suggestion from the university that students had ever been offered a choice of institution on their degree award.

Research Professional News has contacted Keegan for comment.

A version of this article also appeared in Research Fortnight