Virtual Festival of Higher Education Looks at British HE post-COVID

The University of Buckingham, in association with the Higher Education Policy Institute, in bringing the fifth festival of Higher Education online with two days of sessions on ‘The new landscape: the shape of British HE post Covid’. The festival occurs on Tuesday, July 7, and Wednesday, July 8. A ‘wider context’ talk by Universities Minister Michelle Donelan takes place on July 21.

“Universities are rightly spending much time on the immediate and short term,” writes Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor at the University of Buckingham. “The festival this year looks at the medium to long term. COVID is the biggest threat and challenge that universities have faced in their history. It is also the biggest opportunity, and the festival attracts some of the biggest names in the UK and internationally to offer 20 provocations or challenges.

“Speakers will,” he added, “produce their own ideas about solutions.”

All sessions are free and will be cybercast on the Microsoft Teams platform. To attend, click HERE or to attend specific sessions, click on the links below. Seldon wrote that he expects to see an audience in the thousands drawn from Britain and abroad.

Academic publisher Pearson is sponsoring the festival.

Schedule (all times BST)


Day One | Tuesday, 7 July | Morning Session
Challenges, provocations and proposals to high education: Part One

TimeSpeakerTitle of talk
10.40-11.20Jo Johnson (ex- Universities Minister)A provocation to universities
11.20-noonRachel Wolf (ex-No.10 Policy Unit)The challenge of relevance
Noon-12.40Glyn Davis (ex-VC, Melbourne)The challenge of  homogeneity and providing genuine choice
12.40-1.20Daniel Susskind (author, World without Work)The future job challenge
Click here to attend the morning session (10.30 am to 1.20 pm)

Tuesday, 7 July | Afternoon Session
Transition into University

TimeSpeakerTitle of talk
2.00-2.40Simon Wessely (ex-President, Royal College Psychiatrists)The mental health challenge
2.40-3.20Paul Johnson (Director, Institute of Fiscal Studies)The financial challenges
3.20 -4.00Roland Rudd (Chairman, Finsbury)The public relations and media perception challenge
4.00-4.40 Michael Crow (President, Arizona State University)The digital curriculum challenge
4.40-5.20David Willetts (ex-Universities Minister)The leadership challenge
Click here to attend the afternoon session (2 pm to 5.20 pm)

Day Two | Wednesday, 8 July | Morning Session
Twelve challenges to higher education: Part One

TimeSpeakerTitle of talk
9.30-10.00Richard Brooks (ex-Deputy, NUS)The challenge of student expectation
10.00-10.30Martha Lane Fox (digital champion, Chair OU)The Digital/AI challenge
10.30-11.05Sam Gymiah (ex-Universities Minister)The BAME and green challenges
11.05-11.40Stephen Bush (Political Editor, the New Statesman)The Political Landscape challenge
11.40-12.20Nancy Rothwell (VC of Manchester and Chair of the Russell Group)The research challenge
12.20-1.00Ian Goldin (ex-Head of the Oxford Martin School)The challenge of the future
Click here to attend the morning session (9.30 am to 1 pm)

Wednesday, 8 July | Afternoon Session
Transition into University

TimeSpeakerTitle of talk
2.00-2.45Clare Marchant (Head of UCAS)University entrance in 2020 & 2021
2.45-3.30Barnaby Lenon (Chair, ISC and author)What will A level grades actually mean in 2020
3.30-4.15Steve Smith (VC, Exeter University)Options for HE in 2020 & 2021: how choices might change
4.15-5.00Rosie Bennett (The Times) Sean Coughlan (BBC) Andrew Jack (Financial Times) Will Hazell (the ‘I’)  What the education editors think about university choices for 2020 & 2021
5.00-5.40Rohan Silva (ex-Policy Head at No.10)How EdTech will transform sixth forms and HE by 2025
5.40-5.50Nick Hillman (Head, HEPI)Closing comments
Click here to attend the afternoon session (2 pm to 5.50 pm)

Tuesday, 21 July | Closing Session
The wider context

TimeSpeakerTitle of talk
10.00-10.40Michelle Donelan (Universities Minister)The Minister responds
Click here to attend the session (10 am to 10.40 am)
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