2 October 2018

NEON’s Conservative Fringe Event

Open to all? Making the Case for Higher Education

in association with the New Statesman and the University of Essex

In recent years, the higher education (HE) sector has come under attack from many quarters: over the value of certain degree programmes, the cost of courses, the supposed curtailment of free speech on campus and the rise of a much-derided culture of ‘safe spaces’ and over vice chancellors’ pay. Universities have found themselves in the spotlight, with their broader social purpose undermined and called into question. In an era of Trump, Brexit and senior politicians deriding the research and findings of experts, an aura of anti-intellectualism has crept into modern discourse that portrays learned opinion and educational rigour as the preserve of a liberal or metropolitan ‘elite’. And with the data showing the increasing variability of graduate salaries, the argument that there’s “too many students” has gained some traction.

Universities argue though that they make significant contributions to the economy and society at every level, acting as ‘anchor institutions’ in many towns and cities, producing research and innovation which drives economic growth and social innovation. This panel will discuss how universities can develop and promote the relationship between communities and institutions. In particular it will look at the importance of improving access to HE for those from all social groups to this relationship and how widening access can be placed central to policies designed to maximise the contribution that HE makes to the economy and society.


Andrea Jenkyns MP, Co-Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for Education & Conservative Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood
Dr Angus Holford, Research Fellow, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex
Shakira Martin, President, National Union of Students
Dr Graeme Atherton, Director, National Education Opportunities Network

Date and Time

Tuesday 2 October 2018
16:00 – 17:00


Novotel Birmingham Centre Hotel
70 Broad Street
B1 2HT

*Details, date and time subject to change

To register for this free event, please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-to-all-making-the-case-for-higher-education-tickets-48835978727

Please note: this event is outside the secure zone.