Hinds is a graduate of the University of Oxford, who attended a Catholic grammar school near Manchester, before spending 18 years in what is described on his constituency website as “the pubs/brewing and hotel industries”.
Since becoming a member of parliament in 2010, Hinds has held ministerial roles in the Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions. He also sat on the education committee in the House of Commons from 2010 to 2012. Education and social mobility are both listed as his interests on his parliamentary webpage.
On Twitter Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, and former special advisor to the government said Hinds had “raised social mobility more assiduously than any other Tory backbencher I can think of”.
Hillman said Hinds is an “interesting appointment”.
Also on Twitter, Damian Hinds himself said he was “looking forward” to the new role, and the opportunity to work with “the great teachers & lecturers in our schools, colleges & universities”.
There has also been a change within the department, as the minister of state for universities and science Jo Johnson has been replaced by Sam Giymah. Giymah moves from the Justice Department, where he was responsible for prisons and probation.
The appointment comes during a cabinet reshuffle by prime minister Theresa May, which has been described as “shambolic” by opposition MPs.
Unrelated to the reshuffle (as far as The PIE News is aware) came to the unexpected resignation of Toby Young, the board member of the newly inaugurated Office for Students. He had come under fire for comments made on social media and in his columns for The Spectator magazine, such as referring to working-class students as “small, vaguely deformed undergraduates”, and commenting on “serious cleavage behind Ed Miliband’s head”, when Miliband (then leader of the opposition) was speaking at prime minister’s questions.
It is reported that a petition signed by 200,000 people may have been the immediate trigger for his resignation. In his letter, posted on the Spectator website, he thanked Justine Greening for his initial appointment and congratulated Hinds on his new role.
“These schools have already done a huge amount to raise standards in some of England’s most deprived areas and the next challenge is to extend those benefits to every area of educational underperformance.”
Young had been supported by then-universities minister Johnson, who said the criticisms levelled at Young were equal to a “caricature”.
Chair of the Board at the OfS Sir Michael Barber said in a statement that he thought Young had “reached the right conclusion”.
Barber added that Young was “right to offer an unreserved apology… and he was correct to say that his continuation in the role would have distracted from our important work”.