Who Is Theresa May?
The new leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister, Theresa May was the longest serving Home Secretary until she ran for leadership a few months ago. She’s also served in several other cabinet roles during her time as an MP including Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities
What’s Her History with Education?
Due to her previous roles within government, Theresa May has had an input in several key decisions within higher education. Here are some of the campaigns she’s either backed or been a part of:
Free Schools Supporter
She has often spoken about “fairer funding” for schools and supported a national funding formula for new schools and academies. In 2009 she said she wanted to allow, “educational charities, philanthropists, existing school federations, not-for-profit trusts, cooperatives and groups of parents to set up new schools in the state sector”.
She’s also previously suggested that police commissioners should open alternative free schools to prevent children from “falling into a life of crime”.
In 2004 Theresa May had initially voted against raising both tuition
fees and the tuition fee cap. However, she changed her mind in 2010 and voted to raise the cap.
During her time as Home Secretary, Theresa May criticised UK universities who had international students overstaying their visas and felt the rules needed to be enforced better. As a result, when universities and ministers appealed to remove students from net migration targets, she rejected it.
What Will She Be Dealing With?
Stepping into David Cameron’s shoes means Theresa May will have a few things on her to-do list when she steps into Number 10. This includes…
The White Paper is a government paper that’s currently being discussed which is all about improving higher education. Its main aim is to ensure university is accessible and providing graduates with relevant and employable skills.
From allowing universities to charge higher fees if they offer high quality teaching and creating a single university watchdog to oversee everything, to increasing protection for students whose courses have to close unexpectedly and more course transparency, there’s lots being proposed in the White Paper. However, the main topic is the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework which would assess teaching quality on a number of factors, including student experience and job prospects.
Theresa May will not only have to go through each proposal and assess how useful it would be, but she’ll also have to implement any changes that she agrees with. No pressure then…
Although May backed the remain campaign, becoming PM means she’ll have to deal with the
This is likely to involve figuring out whether EU students in the UK are treated as international students. If this happens they may have to pay more fees, won’t have access to the same loans and could even have a completely different application process. She’ll also have to oversee what happens to UK students who want to study in the EU and what restrictions they may or may not face.
As well as student implications, she could have to figure out if anything will happen to academics from the EU working in the UK and vice versa. She’ll also have to oversee and perhaps even negotiate on things like EU funding for UK universities.
A recent report of technical and vocational education by the
Department of Education and Department of Business Innovation and Skills recommended getting rid of over 20,000 vocational qualifications and replacing it with 15 new technical education pathways.
If successful, in the future you’ll have to choose between studying ‘academic’ qualifications for university or taking technical, more vocational qualifications rather than taking a mixture of the two. There would also be ‘bridging’ qualifications that would link academic and technical routes of study. Not only could this affect sixth form education, but also universities, who currently have a quarter of their admissions coming from students with vocational qualifications alongside or instead of their A Levels.
Theresa May will have to consider this report and decide whether to approve it.