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Three Cabinet Members among fourteen Birkbeck Alumni and Fellows elected to Parliament

New appointments reflect Birkbeck's history as a university of choice for Parliamentarians and policymakers.

Fourteen Birkbeck Alumni and Fellows from across the political spectrum have been elected to Parliament in the General Election.

Birkbeck, which is located in Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer’s constituency, has long been a university of choice for Parliamentarians and policymakers. It is one of only six UK universities that has a Prime Minister amongst its alumni.

A strong contingent of Birkbeck’s friends have also been appointed to office in the new Government.

Birkbeck Alumni and Fellows who have been appointed to the Cabinet are:

  • David Lammy MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, who is a Birkbeck Fellow,
  • Lisa Nandy MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who is a Birkbeck Fellow and graduate of the MSc Politics and Government,
  • Louise Haigh MP, Secretary of State for Transport, who is a Birkbeck law graduate.

Birkbeck Alumni and Fellows include prominent MPs from opposition parties, as well as a significant number of new and returning Labour MPs:

  • Sir Ed Davey MP (Leader of the Liberal Democrats)
  • Kemi Badenoch MP (Conservative)
  • David Simmonds MP (Conservative)
  • John McDonnell MP (Labour)
  • Alison McGovern MP (Labour)
  • Tulip Siddiqui MP (Labour)
  • Laurence Turner MP (Labour)
  • Hamish Falconer MP (Labour)
  • Markus Campbell-Savours MP (Labour)
  • Georgia Gould MP (Labour)
  • Nick Smith MP (Labour).

The remaining ministerial appointments are being monitored to see whether other Birkbeck Parliamentarians are appointed to serve in the new Government.

It is expected that a King’s Speech on 17 July will outline an initial legislative programme for the new Government. This is likely to include legislation necessary to implement commitments around skills and growth which were published in Labour’s pre-Election manifesto, which also stated that the current higher education financial and regulatory system was not working for either students or universities.

It is hoped that an Autumn budget may also include some initial movement on university fees and funding to help students through the ‘cost of learning’ crisis and stabilise sector finances.

Birkbeck is pressing the new Government to provide immediate reassurance to international students that the UK will be a welcoming environment for them, as well as offering ideas on how universities can help the Government deliver educational opportunity that combines academic breadth, quality, accessibility, and employability.

Birkbeck welcomes the appointment of former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as the Minister of State with responsibility for Universities, Further Education and Skills in the Department for Education, and of former Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, as Minister of State in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. The decision to bring two vastly experienced and respected figures from outside Parliament to these key roles is a positive signal.

Birkbeck is writing to the incoming ministerial team with concrete suggestions for initial interventions in university funding and regulation, as well as proposals about a longer-term vision for the sector that would ensure universities play a key role in delivering the Government’s priorities around educational opportunity and economic growth. We are also inviting new MPs and Government advisors to visit our Bloomsbury campus to discuss our ideas. 

Professor Sally Wheeler, Vice Chancellor said: “It is great to see that so many Birkbeck Alumni, Fellows and friends from across the political spectrum have been elected to parliament in the General Election. It is also great to see so many people we know being appointed to office in the new Government.

“I believe this presents a valuable opportunity for us to work with the Government to address the shortcomings of the current system and to ensure that the UK has a vibrant higher education sector that meets the needs of the UK economy, is attractive to domestic and international students, and makes a significant contribution to social mobility and lifelong learning.”

Professor Matthew Innes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor said: “As a university whose mission focuses on facilitating access to higher education and breaking down obstacles to social mobility, it is no accident that at times of realignment in the nation’s politics and Government, Birkbeck’s alumnus have had significant roles in Government.

“A hundred years ago, it was a Birkbeck alumnus who became the first ‘working man’ to serve as Prime Minister. Now that the importance of access to higher education is again a major matter of public debate, Birkbeck’s unique experience and strong links to Parliament make it well-placed to contribute to these discussions through people who understand at first hand the relevance and value of all that it has to offer.”

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