From education to employment

Chris Skidmore is new Universities Minister – Sector Response

Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore MP

Chris Skidmore was appointed as a Minister of State jointly at the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today (5 Dec), after Sam Gyimah resigned over Brexit earlier in the week.

Chris Skidmore was Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office from 17 July 2016 to 8 January 2018. He was elected Conservative MP for Kingswood in May 2010.

Responding to the news that Chris Skidmore is the new Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation: 

Nick Hillman100x100Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), said:

This is an interesting appointment. No one predicted it, but it’s not a radical departure. Chris’s impressive bibliography as an author of Tudor history, his past experiences elsewhere in Whitehall and his firm loyalty to his party – when such loyalty is seemingly in short supply – must make him a pretty good fit for the post.

He will need all his many talents in the role. The number one challenge he faces is getting to grips with his brief before the Augar review of post-18 education and funding lands on his desk early next year.

He’ll also need to become an expert in accounting over the next fortnight, given the forthcoming ONS review of student loans.

And, if he wants the confidence of the sector, he’ll need to steel himself for renewed battles with the Home Office over staff and student mobility.

Alistair Jarvis100x100Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

There is no doubt that Chris is taking up the role at a particularly challenging and busy time for universities with uncertainty about Brexit and immigration, the ONS student loans review and the post-18 review of HE and FE funding all major issues requiring skilful handling.

His knowledge of the sector – in part from his academic background, but also from his work on student voter registration in his former role as Minister for the Constitution – means that we have a minister who will be able to get to grips quickly with this demanding brief in preparation for the crucial months ahead. We look forward to working with him.

University and College Union (UCU) head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said:

The minister comes in at a crucial juncture for higher education. We have the highest fees in the world, an admissions policy which embeds inequality and are suffering on the global stage because of a hostile environment and Brexit.

In the face of much political uncertainty, what the sector needs is a champion who understands the huge contribution universities make to our economy and society.


Chris was educated at Bristol Grammar School before studying history at Oxford, where he continued with postgraduate research.

Political career

Chris was elected as the Conservative MP for Kingswood in 2010. He sat on the Health Select Committee from 2010 to 2013, and the Education Select Committee from 2012 to 2014. In 2013, he was appointed to the Number 10 Policy Board, and in September 2014 he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Number 10 Policy Board. In May 2015, he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Career outside politics

Chris has written several history books including ‘Edward VI: The Lost King of England’, ‘Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart’ and ‘Bosworth: the Birth of the Tudors’. Recently, Chris published ‘Richard III: Brother, Protector, King’. Chris is also a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Personal life

Chris is married to Lydia and has 2 children, Clementine and Henry.

Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation

The minister’s Department for Education responsibilities include:

  • universities and higher education reform
  • higher education student finance (including the Student Loans Company)
  • widening participation and social mobility in higher education
  • education exports (including international students, international research)
  • review of post-18 education and funding
  • tackling extremism in higher education

The minister’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy responsibilities include:

  • industrial strategy
  • science and research
  • innovation
  • intellectual property
  • agri-tech
  • space
  • technology

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