NEON’s Labour Fringe Event

  • Date


  • Time

      11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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.



  • Dr Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Minister for Higher & Further Education and Skills & Labour Member of Parliament for Blackpool South
  • Shakira Martin, President, National Union of Students
  • Dr Angus Holford, Research Fellow, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex
  • Dr Graeme Atherton, Director, National Education Opportunities Network


Date and Time
Monday 24 September 2018
11:00 – 12:00

ACC Liverpool
Kings Dock
L3 4FP


To register for this free event, please go to:

Please note: this event is inside the secure zone of the conference centre, for information on applying for a Visitors Pass, please click here.