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Robert Halfon MP, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships & Higher Education, visits Queen Mary

The Minister met with students and senior leadership from Queen Mary to discuss universities’ role in giving young people better life opportunities and developing key skills.

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In conversation with staff and students, Minister Halfon spoke of his mission for universities to help advance social mobility, and the need for students to build their technical skillsets alongside the traditional university degree. Both he and representatives from Queen Mary highlighted the role of degree apprenticeships and how they can facilitate this.

Among the students at the event was Harriet Spoor, a politics student who is currently undertaking an internship at the House of Commons. Harriet said: “It was a pleasure to be a part of the day and meet Minister Halfon. Naturally, I’m hugely passionate about politics, so it was great to be able to discuss what I’m learning as part of my degree and hear from someone in government.”

Also in attendance was Haleema Rabeea, a final year dentistry student at Queen Mary. Haleema said: “I’m glad that I was able to speak about what studying dentistry is like at Queen Mary. It’s very hands on, which is important for a subject like mine and for me it’s the best way to learn. I also got a chance to speak about my interests in academia, having undertaken an intercalated degree in global public health and policy during my time at Queen Mary. I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching and academic research opportunities.”

Robert Halfon MP, Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships & Higher Education, said: “It was great to meet staff and students at Queen Mary to discuss the work they are doing to support more young people climb the ladder of opportunity.

“Higher education is key to building a skills nation and my mission is to put our universities at the leading edge of social mobility.”

Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal of Queen Mary University of London, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to meet Minister Halfon with some of our students, who I know shares our passion for ensuring that anyone able to succeed is given the opportunities to do so. Queen Mary was the first Russell Group University to offer degree apprenticeships, and these programmes form a vital part of our mission to open the doors of opportunity for anyone with the potential to succeed.”

In 2021, Queen Mary was named the country’s top university for social mobility in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in partnership with the Sutton Trust and Department for Education. And the Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 recognised Queen Mary as the most inclusive Russell Group University, noting that “Queen Mary continues to prove that social inclusion and academic success are not mutually exclusive.”

Queen Mary has also recently launched, in partnership with Newham College, the London City Institute of Technology to deliver, employer-led higher technical education. Working with key employers, the University will be able to react quickly to the current and evolving technical skills needs and widen opportunities through offering flexible and affordable qualifications to learners.

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