Lord Mandelson has demanded that higher education must increase its contribution to economic growth, hours after his statement figures were announced by the University if Strathclyde for industry body Universities UK showing that the contribution from higher education had grown from an output of Â£45 billion in 2004 to Â£59 billion.
Universities now account for 3% of the British workforce and generate more economic activity for Britain than the pharmaceutical and advertising industries combined which leaves you wondering why Lord Mandelson is so keen to squeeze the life out of a sector that has shown impressive growth over the past five years.
With the amount of money that the tax payer is throwing at the pharmaceutical industry with the swine flu vaccine isn'tÂ it time that Lord Mandelson approached his friends over at GlaxoSmithKline for a greater contribution to the economy.
At a time when so many sectors in the economy are failing should we be looking to the Universities for inspiration? Consider the fact that comparing their contribution to 2008's GDP they would contribute 2.3% of that growth.
Universities employ around 372,400 workers but the total dependent employees figures stand at around 668,500Â and if you compare that to full-time employment stats in 2007 it accounts for 2.6% off the workforce.
This goes to show that Britain is still a center of excellence in the world and we should be proud of the achievements of our higher educational institutions. How can we develop this further and exploit it on the world stage?
Well we need to keep Peter Mandelson away from comments like he made requesting Universities should start looking for new sources of income for a start.
This would addÂ extra pressureÂ on the Higher education system and potentiallyÂ lead to them cheapening the great institutions of this country when the current model is performing well, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
High investment must given by industry asÂ Lord Mandelson wishes to see further growth in the higher education system but he should be looking towards encouraging said investment and not trying to set them new targets that could lead to universities bringing in a new era where the commercial investors product placement may work its way into the lecture halls.
You get the vision of a Professor of Neurology holding a can of coke in a lecture taking a sip every 2 mins as part of the funding contract.
Investors should invest in the higher education system and receive tax breaks for it, if we are to see further investment in the sector it should not come at the price of reducing the quality within that sector so investors influence should be prevented at all costs.
Oversees students alone add around Â£2.4 billion with their off- campus spending to the economy every year. With a weak pound that figure could quite easily change exponentially with the performance of the currency of their country of origin.
Who says a weak pound is bad all round?