2 days / 60 speakers
Be inspired

26 – 27 June 2019

We’ve had great feedback from all of our Festival of Higher Education delegates who told us our range of debates and talks were what they enjoyed most about the event.

One of the most popular debates was Rt. Hon David Willetts and Lord Adonis on the subject of fair funding but many also enjoyed the HEPI debates and the Claire Fox, Director of the Academy of Ideas panel. We were extremely pleased to receive positive feedback about all our speakers.

Other comments were that guests enjoyed being able to mingle and network in the beautiful riverside university campus experiencing the friendly festivalesque atmosphere, delicious food and live-band. The informality and style of sessions allowing guests to interact with a wide range of speakers with dedicated time at the end of each session for a Q&A, was something that appealed to a lot of delegates.

Comments included:

“I really enjoyed the discussions and learnt a lot from them. Interesting people with interesting views.”

“The festival was interesting especially because of how the sessions were structured. Unlike HE conferences with just ‘one theme’ it was valuable to hear different topics about issues effecting the sector.”

“What I liked most about the festival was the informality and chance to hear from a wide range of speakers on a variety of topics.”



Following his vow to tackle student mental health at the Buckingham Festival of Higher Education, Sam Gyimah, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, has come up with a plan to address the serious issue of student suicides.

At Buckingham he said action needed to be taken to make it easier for universities to contact students’ parents when they have a serious mental health issue.

At a summit for universities, national bodies, charities, students and local leaders at the University of the West of England, he proposed plans for students to decide if they want to opt in to an alert system that will notify their parents if staff feel they are struggling with a mental health crisis.

At the session at the Festival of Higher Education, James Murray, whose son took his own life whilst studying at University, was given the chance to share his views to senior higher education staff and Sam Gyimah, about how he would like Universities to relax data protection rules and allow them to be able to contact parents if they feel their child’s wellbeing is at risk.

In a conversation between Sam Gyimah and Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, it was agreed that “nothing matters more than preserving life. We need porous walls to save lives.”

The new mental health charter is not compulsory for Universities, however, the Minister said: “We want mental health support for students to be a top priority for the leadership of all our universities. Progress can only be achieved with their support – I expect them to get behind this important agenda as we otherwise risk failing an entire generation of students.”

Nancy tucker, student and author, spoke openly and honestly at the festival about her struggles with eating disorders and mental health. She discussed an email she received from a first year student, who had recently taken an overdose and was in hospital unable to submit an essay for a deadline later that week. The student explained their struggles with stress and depression in an email to their tutor, only to have the short and abrupt response of “Extension until Thursday? Sent from my iPhone”.

The latest Office for National Students UK university suicide figures show there were 95 recorded suicides for the 12 months leading to July 2017 in England and Wales.