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York Festival of Ideas 2018

The Future of Higher Education Day is taking place on 8 June


The award-winning York Festival of Ideas will take place from 5 to 17 June at venues across the city of York. One of the biggest free festivals in the UK, it is led by the University of York in collaboration with more than 80 cultural, social and business organisations.

Last year’s festival was enjoyed by over 32,000 people, with a further 153,000 listening to the opening night on BBC Radio 3 and downloading festival and BBC podcasts. It was also named Best Cultural Event or Festival at the York Culture Awards.

This year’s programme features over 200 diverse and inspiring events under the banner of ‘Imagining the Impossible’. One of the many highlights will be a Festival Focus Day on ‘The Future of UK Higher Education’, presented in collaboration with the UPP Foundation.

The Focus Day will take an in-depth view of the value of UK universities, their place in the economy, university funding and the role of universities in post-Brexit Britain. It will address questions including: What are universities for? Who are they for? And how do they enhance society?

Expert speakers include Lord David Willetts, former Minister for Universities and Science; William Whyte, author of Redbrick: A Social and Architectural History of Britain’s Civic Universities; Margaret Gardner, Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Australia; Lee Elliot Major, Chief Executive of The Sutton Trust; Nicky Morgan MP, former Secretary of State for Education; and Amatey Doku, Vice President (Higher Education) of the National Union of Students.

Taking place on Friday 8 June, the Focus Day is split into five sessions:

The Impact, Value and Future of UK Universities, 11am to 12 noon

What are universities for? Who are they for? How do they enhance society? Introduced by Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, and chaired by Rosemary Bennett, Education Editor at The Times, speakers will include:

  • Lord David Willetts, former Minister for Universities and Science
  • William Whyte, author of Redbrick

Lessons from Australia: What can UK education learn from Australia? 1pm to 2pm

What lessons can we learn from the Australian higher education sector? Margaret Gardner, Vice-Chancellor of Monash University and Chair of Universities Australia, will discuss education in the age of disruption and innovation with BBC News Education Correspondent Sean Coughlan.

Social Mobility, Skills and an Inclusive Economy, 2.30pm to 3.45pm

What is the value of UK universities and what is their place in the economy? Chaired by Koen Lamberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, speakers will include:

  • Kate Barclay, Institute for Apprenticeships
  • Claire Crawford, University of Warwick,
  • Lee Elliot Major, The Sutton Trust
  • Andy Westwood, University of Manchester

Brexit, Culture Wars and Universities, 4.15pm to 5.45pm

What is the role of universities in post-Brexit Britain? Have universities lost public trust in the aftermath of Brexit? How can they better engage with the public? In a session chaired by Louis Coiffait, Associate Editor at Wonkhe, and featuring a keynote speech by Nicky Morgan MP, former Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, speakers will also include:

  • John Denham, University of Winchester
  • Conor Gearty, LSE
  • Clare Melhuish, UCL Urban Laboratory
  • Paul Whiteley, University of Essex

UK Tuition Fees: The future of university financing, 6pm to 7.15pm

What is the future of university financing? In a session chaired by Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor of the Daily Mirror, speakers will include:

  • Lorenza Antonucci, University of Birmingham
  • Diana Beech, Higher Education Policy Institute
  • Jack Britton, Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Amatey Doku, National Union of Students

All the events are free to attend for the public, so why not come along? You can sign up via the links above.

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