Wednesday 29 January, Rob Lyons

What’s the point of going to university?

Listen to this debate from the Battle of Ideas festival 2019.

A recording of a debate at the Battle of Ideas festival on Sunday 3 November 2019. Special thanks to the Federation of Awarding Bodies who partnered with the Academy of Ideas to produce this session.

More people now attend university in the UK than ever, but there is much less clarity about what university is for. For many, it is simply a step on the career ladder between school and work. For others, higher learning is about pursuing knowledge for its own sake. Do universities even do a good job at preparing people for jobs, or should we make more use of on-the-job training for that purpose? Do vocational qualifications merit the same prestige as academic degrees? Does everyone deserve the opportunity to spend three years at university – or is it an evasion of the ‘real world’?


Kirstie Donnelly MBE
group managing director, City & Guilds Group; commissioner, Labour Party Lifelong Learning Commission

Dennis Hayes
professor of education, University of Derby; founder and director, Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF); co-author, The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education

Jhanelle White
student, King’s College London; founder and chair, Political Sweep

Professor Alison Wolf
author, The XX Factor: how the rise of working women has created a far less equal world; cross-bench peer

Chair: David Bowden
associate fellow, Academy of Ideas






Battle of Ideas Festival 2019

9:30am, Saturday 2 November 2019, Barbican, Silk Street, London

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