Press release

MillionPlus launches election manifesto

12 Nov 2019

In its general election manifesto published today (12 November) MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, is asking parliamentary candidates to commit to six key pledges that will boost the country by embracing, engaging and enhancing what modern universities have to offer to students and the economy.

Bill Rammell, Chair of MillionPlus and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, said:

“Modern universities are hugely important to the UK and offer a wide range of relevant degrees which bring life-long advantages to our graduates in their careers, wellbeing and broader prospects. It’s vital that universities are funded sustainably so that we can continue to provide world-class, 21st century education and student support. Maintenance grants should be restored to ease the burden on those worse off students, so that no one is barred from university study because they are forced to choose keeping the lights on over their education. Our institutions are key drivers of widening access to higher education - without improved maintenance support we risk losing ground in this effort.

“We’re also calling for more to be done to financially support mature and part-time study and reverse the nosedive in participation we have seen from these groups since 2012. As AI and automation begin to bite across the labour market, it will be more important than ever that people can re-skill and re-train at whatever stage of life they happen to be and whatever their other commitments. A system that does not work for these students is one that is simply not fit for purpose.

“We have long called for reform of the student visa process to make it more accountable and less bureaucratic, and we make that call again today. Britain must be an open and welcoming destination for students from around the world if our desire to increase education exports is to be realised. International students make a vital contribution to our campuses, our communities and our culture.

“At the start of a new decade, the UK must show ambition. The goal of investing 3% of GDP in research and innovation by 2027 would turbocharge productivity and re-affirm the country’s status as a global hub for science and technology. Delivering on this would demonstrate that the new government was serious in providing opportunity for all and growth that is balanced across the country.

“Finally, we would ask that the next government respect and recognise the vital role of modern universities as pioneers of technical education and the talent pipeline for thousands of essential public sector workers. The impact on the NHS, schools, and local services would be keenly felt if these universities are undermined.

“This is a critical election campaign for the UK on many fronts. Our future depends on the new government taking forward a highly ambitious agenda to innovate, educate and include everyone. Only by harnessing the talents of our people will we make the 2020s a decade of soaring productivity and prosperity. By agreeing the six pledges in our manifesto, politicians of all parties can help us deliver on our promise as a country.”

The six pledges are:

  1. Increase current levels of investment in line with inflation and guarantee sustainable resourcing for universities to provide world-leading education for students
  2. Restore maintenance grants for students from lower income backgrounds
  3. Reform the student visa system to attract global talent to study across the UK
  4. Invest 3% of GDP in research and innovation to boost our national productivity
  5. Improve student financial support so mature and part-time students can better access higher education in a way that works for them
  6. Recognise modern universities as being at the heart of technical education and pivotal providers for a skilled public service workforce


Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email
  2. The MillionPlus manifesto is available online here
  3. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at
  4. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  5. Modern universities: facts and stats

Download General Election Manifesto 2019: The Soaring Twenties »