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The British new Prime Minister Gordon Brown has divided the old Ministry of Education and Skills. Ed Balls, one of Brown’s closest allies is now Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. It is said that this department will be concerned with children beyond traditional schooling.
John Denham is now Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Denham is an MP since 1992 who has held several posts as Under Secretary of State and Minister of State. He has been Minister of Health and also has held a cross-government role as Minister for Children and Young People in the previous government. Although John Denham has been a backbencher for Labour lately, he is no newcomer to government.
Included in Denham’s department is part of the old Department of Trade and Industry with a responsibility for science and innovation. The department should also work closely with the new departments for business and other key departments. The intent is to combine the forces of private and public research and innovation as a new approach to building the knowledge society and, besides, to incorporate the whole of lifelong learning into one department.
The new government is concerned with access to higher education. Denham just announced that the Government will increase the number of students entitled to non-repayable maintenance grants and make it easier for graduates to repay their loans. The PM is quoted stating that “no one should be held back from realising their potential by fears that they will not be able to afford going to university or that they will graduate with unmanageable levels of debt.” It will be interesting to see what impact the reforms will have on higher education in the UK.DIUS