A UK Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week saw many senior figures stay at their at their portfolios, but Jo Johnson was moved from his universities and science post to be Transport Minister and Minister for London.
Taking his place is Sam Gyimah, the Conservative East Surrey MP and former prisons minister, who will work alongside Damian Hinds, the newly appointed Education Secretary, according to the BBC. Hinds replaces Justine Greening, after Greening refused to move departments and resigned.
Off to my new role as Universities & Science Minister and looking forward to the challenges ahead – thank you for your excellent work @JoJohnsonUK. A massive thank you to all prisons & probation staff, particularly prison officers, for your incredible dedication & hard work.
— Sam Gyimah MP (@SamGyimah) January 9, 2018
The 41-year-old Oxford alumnus had previously worked with the Department of Education as a parliamentary under-secretary of state in the department between 2015 and 2016, according to Times Higher Education.
Gyimah, who studied philosophy, politics and economics at Somerville College and was president of the Oxford Union, had worked in Goldman Sachs before switching to a career in politics.
He joins the list of promising young stars May is trying to promote in this reshuffle.
Sam Gyimah MP becomes Universities Minister, Minister of State at the Department for Education @educationgovuk and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy @beisgovuk (Minister for Higher Education) #Reshuffle pic.twitter.com/d4bbXnupyz
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) January 9, 2018
HuffPost reported that Johnson’s move comes in the wake of a row over the appointment of Toby Young, a journalist who has also set up free schools, to the new Office for Students.
Farewell unis and science – our greatest national asset & best thing about this country. It's been an honour to have had this role – proud of all our reforms, especially the Teaching Excellence Framework & the Higher Education & Research Act. Brilliant successor in @SamGyimah
— Jo Johnson (@JoJohnsonUK) January 9, 2018
But, not everyone is too pleased with Gyimah as the new universities minister. From his voting record on education to his attempt to obstruct a gay pardon law, these are what some Twitter users have to say:
— sanmeet (@sanmeeet) January 9, 2018
So our new universities minister is Sam Gyimah – who attempted to filibuster the bill pardoning historic gay offenders such as Alan Turing.
Is he really fully committed to supporting all of us in the diverse HE sector?https://t.co/CTxxzJ8p1r#LGBTSTEM
— David K Smith (@professor_dave) January 9, 2018
For Universities UK president Dame Janet Beer, her priorities for the new minister include better post-study work visas for international students, promoting social mobility in universities and securing Britain’s long-term participation in the European Union programmes Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.
Beer said she looked forward to working with Gyimah “to develop policy that supports universities to maximise their positive impact on the economy, society and students”.
“The promised review of tertiary education funding in England and establishing the new regulatory framework and Office for Students will likely be top of the new minister’s in-tray,” Beer said.
In a Twitter thread, Times Higher Education invited users to voice out their questions and opinions to Gyimah using the #DearSam hashtag, which has seen replies on issues ranging from the declining participation of mature students in higher education to the inclusion of international students in the government’s net migration data. Here are some other issues users brought up:
#DearSam how will you redress the falling numbers of applications for health (& social care) programmes following the withdrawal of the NHS bursary. H&SC services need skilled, resilient professionals whose salaries reflect their capabilities
— sian burgess (@mrsmcinburtott) January 9, 2018
#dearSam Will you be listening to the people who care about learning & knowledge – i.e. academics & professional support staff – about the calamitous state of HE, or only to the people who have a vested interest in continuing marketisation?
— Kim Shahabudin (@kimshahabudin) January 9, 2018
— Robyn Bateman (@robynbateman) January 9, 2018