UCLan could play a major role in an effective post-pandemic solution

30 April 2020
UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has today endorsed a national campaign for the Government’s consideration to protect and support key public service provision at universities post Covid-19.

The campaign Strengthening and enhancing UK public services in response to Covid-19 has been launched by Universities UK (UUK) and MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities. UCLan is a member of both organisations.

Working with universities, the plan outlines how the Government could take a major stride towards mitigating against future capacity shortfalls with a simple three-pronged approach:

  • Supporting students and graduates to become key workers in public services, by offering a maintenance grant of up to £10,000 for all students in training, removing any recruitment caps, and providing fee-loan forgiveness for those remaining in the relevant professions for at least five years.
  • Strengthening and enhancing key public service HE capacity in universities by increasing the funding to the Office for Students to reflect the added costs while creating a new Public Services in Higher Education Capital Fund to enable universities to invest in simulation equipment, additional staff costs and other infrastructure.
  • Retaining and developing key workers in public services, by increasing general staffing budgets and creating a new professional development programme focused on enhancing skills of current key workers in public services and the new NHS volunteer reserve.

In a letter to the region’s MPs and senior figures within public sector employers such as local NHS trusts and police constabularies, UCLan’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin explained how the University could play a major role in an effective post-pandemic solution.  The University’s vision would help recover the region’s vital public services, drive regeneration and enable civic leadership in the towns, cities and regions of the North West that are most in need.

“As a University we consider our role in Preston, Lancashire, Cumbria and the wider North West region to be one of indispensable responsibility to the communities we serve,” Professor Baldwin explained. “The UUK/MillionPlus proposal would future-proof the creation of a sustainable and suitably skilled public service workforce, including medics, nurses and other healthcare practitioners, so vital towards the current fight against COVID-19 and the proactive preparations for any future resurgence or new pandemics.

“Our Medical School in particular is primed to make a substantial contribution towards the future healthcare workforce needs of the North West having received General Medical Council accreditation for our Doctors’ programme earlier this year.

“Additionally, our Schools of Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Social Work, Care and Community all contribute significantly towards civic life and community prosperity across the North West. We are therefore uniquely positioned to work in collaboration with our partners in the recovery effort. Indeed, it is our duty to do so.”

The UUK/MillionPlus proposal has been shared extensively, including with the Departments for Education and for Health and Social Care.

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