Express & Star

'Stop attacking us – we are an engine for transforming lives': Wolverhampton university vice chancellor responds to PM

So-called 'worthless' degrees have become an election issue. University of Wolverhampton vice chancellor Professor Ebrahim Adia explains why higher education is important.


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This week sees the main political parties publish their manifestos ahead of next month’s General Election.

As they do, it feels like an important time to remind politicians and voters of the vital role universities such as Wolverhampton play in their regions and indeed nationally.

Wolverhampton is the very definition of a civic university.  Its origins date back nearly 200 years when it was established as a Tradesmen and Mechanics’ Institute in 1827.

These origins continue to influence the University’s mission to make a positive difference to our students and staff, our city and region, and the nation and globally.

Our region is a true engine of social mobility and the statistics here at the University of Wolverhampton clearly demonstrate this.

The University makes a disproportionate contribution to levelling up the West Midlands – 71 per cent of our students are the first in family to go to university and over three-quarters live within a 20-mile distance of our three campuses in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Telford.

We upskill and reskill residents and place an emphasis on graduate outcomes – 89 per cent of our graduates are employed or in education 15 months after graduation, and 77 per cent choose to stay and work in the West Midlands region.

Achievement – Students pictured at their graduation ceremony

In short, the University is an engine for creating opportunity, transforming lives and delivering a more inclusive productive and sustainable society.

And if we turn our attention to the question ‘is a degree worth it’, recent research conducted by Universities UK provides an insight into the pure financial impact of a degree.

This includes:

* Graduates earn at least 20 per cent more compared with those without a degree once they are in their mid-20s.  By age 31, graduates typically earn 37 per cent more, and the gap is 38 per cent for graduates from deprived areas.

* Once over age 30, the salary gap continues to widen considerably, although the difference is lower for women.

* Graduates over age 30 are more likely to be in work, and far less likely to be claiming benefits, than those without a degree.

Professor Ebrahim Adia

Universities are a force for good and make an important and significant contribution to UK.

The University of Wolverhampton helps to raise aspirations in our communities, provides the widest possible educational opportunity and delivers a more inclusive, productive and sustainable society.

We need the next Government to urgently address the funding crisis in higher education to ensure universities can continue to create opportunity and transform lives.