Universities need input from businesses

Businesses need to work more closely with universities, according to research by the CBI Higher Education Task Force.

In the face of low public finances and an imbalance in undergraduate skills, the task force recommends that businesses sponsor students studying courses such as science and technology, as well as increase opportunities for internships and provide financial support to new graduates.

Richard Lambert, CBI director-general, says: ‘Businesses should engage more with universities, both financially and intellectually. More firms should help design and pay for courses for the benefit of the current and future workforce.’

The report reveals that the government has already asked universities to make cuts of £180 million. Furthermore, despite a 35 per cent increase in undergraduates since 1997, the number of undergraduates taking science courses has declined by 20 per cent since 1999.

Lambert adds: ‘Maintaining a world-class higher education system is vital to the UK’s future competitiveness and we should sustain current levels of investment in teaching and research, which are low by international standards.’

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