Labour will end war on universities, says shadow minister

Labour will end a “war on universities”, the shadow science secretary has said as he accused the Prime Minister of “talking down” British higher education.

Peter Kyle attacked Rishi Sunak’s comments about “rip-off degrees” while on a visit to Keele University on Tuesday, saying they were “heard around the world in a nanosecond”.

He said: “That war against universities will stop if there’s a Labour government.”

Earlier in the campaign, Mr Sunak had pledged to close down so-called “Mickey Mouse degrees” that did not see graduates secure well-paid jobs and fund 100,000 new apprenticeship places instead.

Talking to reporters, Mr Kyle leaned on his own experience, which saw him apply four times and return to secondary school aged 25 to get the qualifications he needed to go to university.

He said: “The University of Sussex was the first institution that saw something in me that I never knew that I had and it wheedled it out of me and gave it focus and helped me explore it.”

He added: “So the idea that we have a Government that’s trying to retract the access to higher education and everything it gives as one pathway through a life of education and exploring your potential cuts very deep for me.”

The higher education sector has also attacked Mr Sunak’s proposals, with Universities UK chief executive Vivienne Stern saying she was “fed up of people talking down universities”.