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Winds of change

Labour makes overtures to universities and RF gets a fresh look

Frosty relations between government and universities have become such a fixture recently that research leaders could be forgiven for feeling trapped in an unending winter, with only the occasional boost to artificial intelligence funding for comfort. But with Labour widely predicted to be heading to a strong victory in next week’s election, the party’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has given a glimpse of a different future: one where universities are recognised as “engines for growth across our country—a public good, not a political battleground”.

Such words will bring a warm glow after stoked-up culture wars and a hard-won fight to keep the graduate route visa, as the government’s crackdown on immigration threatened to both repel academic talent and create even more precarity for university finances. Labour’s linking of promised “10-year budgets” for R&D to a pledge to create 650,000 “high quality” jobs has further positioned research as central to the party’s economic plans.

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