“Universities should do more to support ex-service personnel and the children of servicemen and women who have lost their lives during duty, the UK Government has urged today (18 April).
The participation rate for young people from military service families in higher education is 24 per cent, according to research by the University of Winchester.
In a joint letter to all UK universities, the Universities Minister and Defence Minister have called on institutions to step up and support those that have sacrificed the most, by signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant.
“We want everyone with the talent and potential, no matter their circumstances or background, to go on to university and thrive.Universities Minister – Chris Skidmore MP
The scholarships offered by these two crucial higher education schemes empower those who have fought for our country, or whose parents have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Nearly 60 of our universities have signed up to delivering the Armed Forces Covenant, which provides rights for veterans and their families to access education, and I know universities such as Winchester have long had outreach programmes with their local armed forces communities. I’m sure all universities will wish to consider the benefits of being a civic university that supports armed forces families in their communities, which is why I have written urging them all to actively consider signing up to the Covenant.”
The Armed Forces Covenant aims to remove barriers faced by members of the armed forces community in accessing public services, including education. Only 57 of 136 UK universities have signed up to the Covenant to date, with just 3 of the 24 Russell Group universities pledging their support.
The Ministers are also calling on universities to establish armed forces champions within each institution, which would be empowered to uphold the commitments of the Covenant, and to act as a first point of contact for the military community, service charities, and local businesses.
The call comes as the Department for Education confirms £5 million in continued funding for higher education schemes in England for the armed forces. The Service Leavers Scheme pays the tuition fees for ex-service personnel who have not studied higher education before, and the Armed Forces Bereavement Scheme provides university scholarships for children of those killed in the line of duty.”
“Signing the Armed Forces Covenant is a fantastic way to show support for our former and current service men and women, as well as their families. Thousands of businesses and organisations have already pledged to make a difference, and I’m pleased that so many of this country’s universities have already followed in their footsteps – with the Universities of South Wales and Lincolnshire and London South Bank University receiving awards last year for their work supporting the military community.”Minister for Defence People and Veterans – Tobias Ellwood MP