Students at the University of Manchester are calling for George Osborne to lead an open, public and free event before the end of the academic year, including the Chairman of the Conservative Party’s Manchester student wing.
The former Chancellor was appointed as an Honorary Professor of Economics in June of 2017, with Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell suggesting that “students and staff will benefit from all of this experience.”
Osborne visited the University on the 29th of September 2017 to speak to postgraduate Economics students as part of an invite-only event, with just 60 tickets allocated on a first-come-first serve basis.
Speaking to The Mancunion after his inaugural lecture, Mr Osborne said that he was going to be “coming a few times a term, so there’ll be lots of opportunity to meet different groups of students in different formats” but has yet to be involved in another event with Manchester students since.
Siôn Davies, Chairman of Manchester Conservative Future, the student Conservative society of the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, said, “George Osborne’s got a wealth of experience — as Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a local MP for Tatton, and as a driving force behind the Northern Powerhouse. His experience would benefit Manchester students massively.
“I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get to hear him do a public lecture before the end of the semester. I think he’d have a lot to say about the Northern Powerhouse; about how to promote growth and development in the region; and about how local and national government works. I know I’d have a lot of questions!”
Alex Tayler, current General Secretary of the Students’ Union, added: “I think it would be really great if he came again and it would be an interesting event that I’m sure a lot of students would benefit from it.
“I do really think he should come. I’m not going to slate him for not coming but I really think he should probably come about once a year to do a public event. He’s got a lot of insight and I’m sure he would spark an interesting debate.”
Mr Osborne told The Mancunion that he is “planning several visits to Manchester and events open to students” but did not commit to leading another event with students before the end of the academic semester.
Several students were initially critical of Osborne’s appointment and questioned the University’s rationale for giving the now Editor of The London Evening Standard a role at the University.
Outgoing Students’ Union Education Officer, Emma Atkins, had previously described his appointment as a “joke”.
She said: “How can Manchester honour this man whose track record over ‘economics’ was abysmal? I bet Economics students at Manchester would have something to say about being associated with him…”
It has been suggested that Mr Osborne’s appointment may have been influenced by the amount of money that he gave to the University during his time as Chancellor.
Commenting on this, Alex Tayler, General Secretary of the Students’ Union, said: “I know that some people think that he was only given the job because he gave money to the University but I’m not sure if I really believe that.”
Despite the initial debate surrounding his appointment, lots of students appear to have forgotten Mr Osborne’s involvement with the University entirely and have questioned if he has really made the impact that was first marketed by the University.
Conrad Gobrien, a second-year History and Economics student, said: “I had completely forgotten about the appointment. I haven’t seen or heard of any talks, debate or interactions that he’s done. To be honest, it seems like a PR stunt and just plain bull***t really.
“He hasn’t made any attempt to engage with the student population here (par that invite only thing which does not count). To sum up, it hasn’t benefited the students here whatsoever and his appointment seems like a PR stunt by the University hierarchy.”
A University spokesperson said: “we are in discussions about a number of events and engagements, but it is too soon to say when these will be or to give further details. He has already give a lecture to our postgraduate economics students earlier in the academic year.
“Not all events George Osborne will be involved in will be publicly advertised and some will be by invitation only to specific cohorts of students and staff, depending on the topic and purpose. Some events will remain private to students, as in the case of the lecture earlier this year, as we see it as one of the main purposes of his appointment for our students to learn from his vast experience as Chancellor.”
Commenting on a potential public event with George Osborne, Alex Tayler, Students’ Union General Secretary, said: “We should get Jacob Rees-Mogg to come as the bouncer.”
Tayler added: “It would be nice to get Theresa [May]. She did an event in town last week. If she could come publicly that would be nice, and not hide in a hotel.”