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Lunchtime Reading: The higher education backgrounds of Keir Starmer’s new Cabinet

  • 10 July 2024
  • By Joseph Morrison-Howe
  • This blog was written by Joseph Morrison-Howe. Joseph is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Nottingham and is currently undertaking an internship with HEPI.

As Keir Starmer’s first cabinet begins to govern, HEPI takes a look back to where and what the new cabinet members studied for their undergraduate degrees. Our analysis finds:

  • 96% of the Cabinet went to university,
  • 29% of the Cabinet went to Oxbridge for their undergraduate studies, and
  • 73% of the Cabinet went to a Russell Group university for their undergraduate studies.

The two undergraduate subjects studied by the most members of Starmer’s cabinet are Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics (each studied by four cabinet members).

Only two members of the Cabinet have studied science degrees. Sir Patrick Vallance, former Chief Scientific Advisor and the new Minister for Science, delivered a lecture in 2023 titled ‘Science Matters’. In the lecture, he stressed sciences’ importance in every single department and argued that the principles of science should be embedded in government much like the principles of economics are. The low proportion of science graduates in Starmer’s cabinet, however, does not seem to reflect a greater focus on science in government.

Compared to previous Cabinets, the proportion of members who studied at Oxbridge is lower. Though as every year the number of state-educated pupils getting Oxbridge places has risen, the proportion of the Cabinet that attended Oxbridge is no longer necessarily a reflection of the socio-economic backgrounds of Cabinet members.

The table below gives details of where and what each of Starmer’s new cabinet ministers studied.

Note Cabinet members according to the BBC and Labour’s website on the 8th of July 2024.

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