Shrewsbury University Centre hosted its inaugural graduation ceremony last September and the students deserve tremendous praise for all their hard work and dedication to get to this point. They chose to be pioneers when they made the decision to come to our new University Centre and I believe their trust has been well placed. I also believe that the students and the University Centre have been a positive for our town. The opportunities are not just for those from far afield, in fact I understand half of admissions are from people from Shropshire. For some of them it may not have been possible to leave our County to study perhaps due to financial or family circumstances and this is why I believe the University is such a positive for us all.
At the end of the last Parliamentary term I brought the Provost to meet with the then Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah MP, who was incredibly impressed with the University’s expansion plans and the course opportunities it hopes to offer students in the future. Many of its educational opportunities are specifically designed to cater towards providing long term employment for students but also the skills that the County and region needs.
The Provost and the Ministers team have agreed to continue to work together to make sure the University bids for the available funding that it needs in order to make improvements to facilities and offer more varied courses. I am keen to assist them with this in any way I can.
On the subject of Higher Education one issue that has arisen recently is in regards to free speech at universities. Our universities have a proud history of encouraging freedom of speech and it is vitally important that this right is preserved. Universities should not be just be places of learning, but should also be placed where there can be open debate. Shrewsbury University Centre is and should be a leader in this regard. This doesn’t mean universities can be a hiding place for harassment, discrimination or the preaching of terrorism and that is why universities have a responsibility under of the Equality Act 2010 to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all staff and students. This helps ensure that all individuals are able to express their opinions without fear of discrimination, or harassment by the university.