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The Government is 'addicted to models now dangerously outdated', Gordon writes for Politics Home, in his role as Labour Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills.Headshot.jpg

The context for this year's A level results - for all the achievements of tens of thousands of young people with achievements that bring them and their families pride and joy - makes progression into Higher Education (for them and universities and FE Colleges hoping to receive them) look more problematic than ever.

Some of this might be attributed to specific concerns post-Brexit - the fall in EU applicants & general fears of universities about a hard-Brexit making matters still worse - hence universities now warning Ministers to allow EU staff to remain in place and not have to reapply for settled status, as well as worries about post 2020 research funding.

There are also concerns for post 92 universities that have benefitted from EU structural funding to the communities in which they operate, in terms of jobs and contracts, where Government has yet to spell out how or if they will replace such funding post-Brexit.

But the evidence is mounting that much of this weakness is the cumulative effect of Tory ministers' actions since the tripling of tuition fees in 2012 - now becoming both socially and economically destructive. Two recent reports, from OFFA and the Social Market Foundation, point to growing dropout rates, especially of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly at the end of their first year. The most recent Sutton Trust survey shows the poorest stats on school students planning for HE in 8 years, with two thirds citing money worries, yet Universities Minister Jo Johnson remains in denial.

The July 20 report commissioned from London Economics by UCU, suggests thousands of graduates will suffer a midlife tax crisis through repayments of accrued interest on student loans, which now with a nine fold increase in inflation from 0.3% in April 2016 will get radically worse. Under this Government's current formula, interest on those loans rises to 6.1% this autumn, and who knows where thereafter? None of this exactly hangs out a welcome sign to this year's A level students.

To compound this, measures put in place by David Willetts in 2012, to allay fears about the impact of trebling tuition fees, have been systematically stripped away. A triple whammy - freezing the student tuition loan repayment threshold, scrapping maintenance grants and bursaries for loans- was described by the IfS last month as 'increasing the burden of student loans the most for low and middle earners'.

Throw in the disastrous fall in numbers of part time and mature students- on which the Government so far only offers derisory initiatives too little too late - and you get a sense of how the nudge factor so beloved of Tory theorists is now working to push would be students away from HE, not towards it.

Competition from so called 'earn as you learn' degree apprenticeships and the potential for higher level skills apprenticeships with top employers to remove the debt factor for those fortunate to get them, adds further to the challenges for traditional HE entries.

Instead of looking rapidly at reversing the changes on grants, the threshold and NHS bursaries, as we have been urging, the Government have just ploughed on regardless. Wedded to an outdated market driven Thatcherism stuck in the late 20th century, not understanding the changes of the 21st Century and our international competitors, Jo Johnson has shown both arrogance and complacency in failing to adjust.

He pins his hopes on an explosion of new private providers, while all around him the threats to our existing world class HE institutions are piling up. It will be they and the local economies (as well as the UK economy) to which they contribute, plus would be UK students and graduates who will suffer if there is no change from this Government's addiction to models now dangerously out of date.

Politics Home: Government 'arrogance' is hampering students progression into Higher Education

The Government is 'addicted to models now dangerously outdated', Gordon writes for Politics Home, in his role as Labour Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills. The context...

With the school holidays in full swing, Gordon has been down to one of the Blackpool FC Community Trust’s summer camps to give his support.Community_Trust_2017_2.jpg

He met up with the Trust’s Chief Executive Ashley Hackett at the Marton Academy camp where over 90 children were attending, with a further 60 also up the road at Hawes Side Academy. As well as football, there were a range of activities for the children to take part in from hockey, dodgeball and also arts and crafts.

Gordon said: “I’ve been going down to visit the summer camps now for the past three years and it’s always great to see what is happening. The children attending are always having a lot of fun but also learning lots of new skills with the wide range of activities run by the Trust’s staff and volunteers.

“The summer camp numbers are growing year by year and that is a testament to the hard work of Ashley and his excellent staff. I was delighted to hear they have been recognised for this work with a nomination at this year’s BIBA awards.”

As well as chatting with the children, Gordon was updated by Ashley on the work being done by the Community Trust to engage with people more widely across Blackpool. He told Gordon, how they were working with different groups such as other local junior football clubs but also with faith and other third sector organisations across the town.

Gordon added: “The Community Trust are now delivering over 60 different programmes, including work with organisations such as the National Citizens Service. I am pleased to see them engaging with people of all ages in Blackpool and the work they are doing is making an important difference to the local community - I will continue to support them in the work they are doing to improve people’s lives.”

Ashley said: “It was great to catch up with Gordon again and we really appreciate him showing his continued support to all our very important projects delivered across Blackpool.”

Gordon joins in with the fun at Blackpool FC Community Trust Summer Camp

With the school holidays in full swing, Gordon has been down to one of the Blackpool FC Community Trust’s summer camps to give his support. He met up with the...

Gordon has teamed up with the charity Anthony Nolan to thank the 502 people in his constituency who have registered with them as stem cell donors.Portrait_3.jpg

Young men aged between 16-30 are the most likely to be asked to donate to give someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder a second chance at life. The average age for donors in Blackpool South is 34 with 36% of donors in the community being male.

The figures come from the Anthony Nolan’s “Communities versus Blood Cancer” campaign, which celebrates the people who have already registered as donors. It also aims to raise awareness of the shortage of donors that still exists.

Gordon is now encouraging more local people, particularly men aged between 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds (where there is a real shortage), to register as stem cell donors.

He said: “I am very proud that there over 500 people in Blackpool South who have registered as a stem cell donor and selfishly volunteered to give someone a second chance at life. Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I strongly hope that more people from across the town will be inspired to sign up and show that together, our communities can provide a cure for blood cancer.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “We’re grateful to all the registered donors in Blackpool South for helping us in our goal of saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.

“Anthony Nolan’s pioneering research, dedicated nurses and patient-focused services mean we have increased the support patients receive at every stage of their transplant journey – but without the contribution of selfless donors, our vital work would be impossible.”

For more information about Anthony Nolan, visit

Gordon thanks stem cell donors in Blackpool South for Blood Cancer campaign

Gordon has teamed up with the charity Anthony Nolan to thank the 502 people in his constituency who have registered with them as stem cell donors. Young men aged between...

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