On Friday 9th February, Sam Gyimah, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, visited the University of Birmingham (UoB).
Gyimah met with the Vice Chancellor (Sir David Eastwood) and the Guild Officer Team, and held an audience with students in Elgar Concert Hall.
The Universities Minister is undertaking a tour of some of the country’s higher education institutions after he recently took over the position from Jo Johnson in January’s cabinet reshuffle. UoB is the first university the minister has visited outside of London.
Writing on Facebook, Guild President Ellie Keiller said she and the other officers ‘talked to him about the Teaching Excellence Framework, Postgraduate Students, Freedom of Speech and the cost of living driving students out of higher education’. She added, ‘It was great to be listened to at this stage and I hope he comes back to speak with us and takes on board what we had to and have to say!’
Postgraduate Officer, Rose Bennett, similarly wrote a post on Facebook saying that she was ‘Looking forward to seeing what he has planned for Higher Education and hope we can continue to work together’.
Following the audience with students, Keiller commented on a Facebook post praising the ‘great questions from students in the audience’. Gyimah also commented on a post shared by the Guild of Students, thanking students for ‘thoughtful feedback on government policy and how it’s impacting students’.
A second year student in attendance was impressed that Gyimah asked questions of the students; ‘He made it seem like he actually cares, like he wanted to listen and act on what he was hearing’. She added that Gyimah said politicians spoke about young people, but did not talk enough to them.
In a longer statement posted to his official Facebook page, Gyimah described the day.
‘A superb visit to University of Birmingham today to meet with the Vice Chancellor and speak directly to students about the issues they care about and had a really thoughtful meeting with the Guild of Students, University of Birmingham about the impact of Government policies on students’.
‘Thank you and looking forward to visiting again and carrying on the discussion’.
Gyimah also noted some ‘interesting’ facts about Birmingham, including the fact that Old Joe is the tallest freestanding clock tower in the world at 100 meters.