Students headed to De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s Campus Centre on Friday for a frank and honest discussion about the future of higher education (HE).
DSU Question Time was the first event of its kind held in the regenerated building, and featured an expert panel discussing issues as diverse as HE funding, the marketisation of education and the impact Brexit could have on universities in the UK.
The panel was made up of three individuals who represent different stakeholders of HE;
- Professor Andy Collop, Deputy Vice Chancellor at DMU;
- Amatey Doku, Vice President Higher Education, National Union of Students (NUS);
- and Councillor Sarah Russell, Leicester City Council Assistant City Mayor for Children and Young People.
The trio fielded questions submitted by students in advance and live from the assembled crowd.
DMU students and members of the local community were given the chance to grill the expert panel.
Mike Mayes, VP Media and Communications at DSU, played a key role in organising the event and also played host.
He said: “We had some brilliant questions from our student audience, and to match that I think we had some brilliant answers from the panel.
“It was absolutely fantastic to see students actively engaging in a conversation that is so, so important to them and in which it’s more important than ever to hear the student perspective.”
Lauren Thomas, studying a Masters in Performance Practices, grilled the panel on the subject of international student fees.
She explained: “I think it is important that people in general, not just students, look at where other people have it worse than you, really.
“The funding situation for home students isn’t great – it’s not a sustainable system at all – but international students have it a lot worse. They’re paying a lot more for the same degree as me.
The event was also live streamed by Demon Media onto DMU's Vijay Patel-ly.
Matthew Towlson, a second-year Journalism and Creative Writing student, said: “This is my first taste of an event like this. I think there are definitely a lot of positive points coming from it, and it’s nice to see a range of opinions coming from different viewpoints converging on the same agreement; I think that’s quite positive.
“I expected the talk about Brexit to be most interesting to me, but I found the talk about the commercialisation of universities most interesting.
“On the subject of funding, it’s good to see people talking about it and trying to come up with solutions.”
The event comes as the university is running its own #KeepUniversitiesForTheMany campaign, backed by DSU. You can read more about that here.
Each member of the panel was selected to represent key stakeholders in the HE sector.