Future of Universities and Bloody Brilliant Women: A Source of Fascination

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Gladys Jubane - Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton

British history resonated in a fascinating fashion at the Wimbledon BookFest 2018, from the history, present and future of universities, to the rise in equality.

As modern society grapples with the uncertainty of BREXIT, universities in the UK are relaunching their vision statements by becoming more society focused. On October 6th, the afternoon kicked off with Gemma Malley chairing discussions on the panel of four: David Willetts, Paul O'Prey, Jack de France and Alex Beard. Her first question directed to David on his book, ‘A University Education’ shaped a thought-provoking discussion on the transformation seen in higher education.

Since the 20th century, the influence by Oxford and Cambridge universities controlling who was accepted into higher education programs was by design. Many towns in the cities in the UK only started their campaign as educators for doctorates post the 20th century.

Whichever panellist you resonated with most, the entire session conjured a better understanding for students, getting the best out of higher education in the country. The discussions got heated over tuition fees, loan repayments and how related stress affects today’s new student turnovers. Jack on the purpose of education in today's market said, “Depression is actually a growing phenomenon for graduates worrying about repayments of their student loan repayments”, but more remained unsaid on the subject that would have resonated with today’s students.

Addressing modern day struggles such as the rise in mental health in youth brought about by the huge financial implications at the end of the course remained inadequately emphasised. One in four students suffer from mental health related conditions with 80% feeling overwhelmed by their responsibility according to the American Psychological Association.

On another highly anticipated platform was the interview held by Matthew d 'Ancona with journalist Cathy Newman on her book ‘Bloody Brilliant Women’ which struck a code with the modern female go getter. In her openness on becoming her own woman in her career, Cathy reveals, “When I started in broadcasting I thought I needed to do it like Jeremy to be influential in broadcasting”. However, she closes with accepting that women today can have an impact while still doing things differently. This resonates incredibly with the young generation and is a more empowering movement for diversity.