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UK: New Minister for Universities and Science

In the recent government reshuffle Greg Clark replaced David Willets as Minister of State for Universities and Science after Willets resigned. 

Reactions to this change, in particular concerning the outgoing minister, are mixed. Some commend him as a committed and constructive supporter of education and science whereas others will remember him as too consumer-oriented and as the culprit behind the university fee increase.  Willets is still at the spotlight after a recent proposal to allow universities to buy up their students' loan debts.

The newly appointed minister will keep as well his current position as minister for the cities and constitution. His responsibilities in the new post include higher education, science and research, life sciences, innovation and UK Space Agency. Mr Clark has been MP for Tunbridge Wells since 2005 and Director of Policy for the Conservatives since 2001. In addition to the current duties, he was previously responsible for several areas in the UK government – energy and climate change, charities, social enterprise and volunteering.

Mr Clark’s appointment does not come without controversies either as doubting voices are bringing up his support of homeopathy against his new role as minister of science. It remains to be seen how the UK will play its role at the forefront of higher education and how the new minister will deal with the many expectations already placed before him. Welcoming Mr Clark in his new role, Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance, said that “the coming months will be critical in thinking about the long-term sustainability and global positioning of UK higher education”.

UK Government