Help us to protect, support and grow public service provision at UK universities
Working together, government and universities can strengthen and enhance public services by boosting education capacity and supporting the retention of key workers in hospitals, schools and local authorities, says MillionPlus | Credit: MillionPlus
Since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, universities, their staff and their students have stepped up.
From manufacturing and supplying vital equipment, offering vital knowledge and expertise, and providing student nurses who voluntarily joined the NHS front line in our hospitals across the regions.
Universities have worked with hospitals, schools and local authorities to rapidly make a huge difference in the national interest, from NHS staff to teachers and social workers.
With a vaccine likely remaining a distant prospect, the ongoing provision of university training and education for those wishing to enter key worker professions will be a vital part of the national effort in what looks like it will be a lengthy battle against the virus.
The pressure created by the pandemic means capacity issues are bound to arise. Doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers; all are highly skilled professions - it takes years to teach and train someone to do them well.
Working together, government and universities can strengthen and enhance public services by boosting education capacity and supporting the retention of key workers in hospitals, schools and local authorities.
This can be achieved with a three-pronged approach:
1. Supporting students and graduates to become key workers in public services, by offering a maintenance grant of up to £10k for all students, removing any recruitment caps, and providing fee-loan forgiveness for those remaining in the relevant professions for at least five years.
2. Strengthening and enhancing key public service higher educational capacity in UK universities by increasing the funding to the Office for Students to reflect the added costs and also creating a new Public Services in Higher Education Capital Fund to enable universities to invest in simulation equipment and other infrastructure.
3. Retaining and developing key workers in public services, by increasing general staffing budgets and creating a new professional development programme focused on enhancing the skills of current key workers in public services and the new NHS volunteer reserve.
These modest proposals could go a long way to honouring the government’s election pledge to boost the NHS and help levelling up public services across the entire country as normality gradually returns and, bit by bit, Britain begins to heal.
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