The Conservative Life Peer, who is also an academic, writer and member of numerous Boards and organisations was honoured for his contribution to higher education.
David Willetts was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating with a First Class degree. His early political career started under Baroness Thatcher, working in the Policy Unit and resulting in his interest in how to deliver policies into the real world of practical application. He was elected to Parliament in 1992 and served to 2015 as the Member of Parliament for Havant in Hampshire. He has worked at HM Treasury and has served as Paymaster General.
He held a number of posts in the Shadow Cabinet and was the Minister of State for Universities and Science from 2010 until July 2014.
He believes passionately that universities and science are great British successes and the challenge is to keep them properly funded.
In recent years, he has focused on inter-generational justice. In 2010 he published ‘The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers took their Children’s Future’, a widely acclaimed book.
As Visiting Professor at King’s College London, he continues to share ideas with a broad community of policymakers, academics, journalists, business leaders and the public – latterly writing about ‘Issues and ideas on Higher Education: Who benefits? Who pays?’ (2015).
He is also Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation. This is a think-tank that works to improve the living standards of those in Britain on low-to-middle incomes by developing effective policy solutions that help shape the debate on economic and social policy. He admits that one of the things that he loved about politics was trying to link up the evidence from social research or economics to real-life policy decisions.
What he most values about Higher Education is being able to engage with the fascinating research taking place and hold conversations with communities of staff and student. He has said that universities are in shape for a good future and that we at Bath are working with optimism to realise the future good.
He said: “It’s a great honour and privilege to receive this honorary degree from the University of Bath.
“I have been deeply impressed with the graduating students I have seen today who I am sure have bright futures ahead of them, and I wish them every future success.
“Our Universities are vitally important for the future of the UK’s prosperity strength, economically and socially. “
President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, said: “Lord Willetts earned great respect as Universities and Science Minister for his thoughtful, collaborative approach to the role and his passionate belief in and support for higher education and science in particular.
“He richly deserves this honorary degree.”