Is university still worth it?

Tuesday 5th October | 10.15 – 11.15

As graduates flood the jobs market, a degree no longer bestows the prestige it once did. Campuses are increasingly in the news for free speech controversies, not academic excellence, and the pandemic has exposed pre-existing concerns in the way universities are run and funded. Does the UK need to take another look at our crumbling higher education system?

Emily Carver (Chair) | Emily Carver is the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Head of Media. A regular on broadcast media, Emily is responsible for growing and managing the IEA’s media output. She has a regular column for ConservativeHome and often writes on education matters. Prior to joining the IEA in 2019, Emily worked as Policy Adviser to a Conservative MP and previously spent a year at public relations agency, Edelman. She has a degree in modern languages from Bristol University and an MSc in European Politics from the LSE.

Dr Steve Davies | Dr Steve Davies is the Head of Education at the IEA, facilitating our outreach to students and young people across the country. The author of numerous books and publications, he has recently contributed to the IEA’s collection of free speech essays discussing censorship on campus and in 2020 wrote “To a radical degree: Reshaping the UK’s Higher Education for the post-pandemic world” in which he argues the pandemic has bursting the bubble in universities and higher education, exposing the fundamentally unsound nature of the policy of successive governments and of the entire array of HE institutions.

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP | Rt. Hon. Robert Halfon MP has been the Member of Parliament for Harlow since 2010 and is elected Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee. Prior to this role, Robert served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, attending Cabinet, from May 2015 to July 2016. Robert was then appointed as Minister of State for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Careers in the Department of Education, a role he held until the 2017 General Election.

Professor Andrew Westwood | Andy Westwood is Professor of Government Practice and Vice Dean for Social Responsibility in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Manchester. He is a Visiting Professor of Further and Higher Education at the University of Wolverhampton and a Governor at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Andy has recently worked as a specialist adviser to the Select Committees on Economic Affairs and Digital Skills in the House of Lords. He has also been a special adviser to ministers on education, skills and science policy at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and a senior adviser at HM Treasury and in the Departments for Education and Communities and Local Government. He writes regularly for Wonkhe, the Times Education Supplement, the Times Higher Education magazine and The Guardian.