2 days / 40 speakers
Be inspired

26 – 27 June 2019


We will continue to update our programme of workshops, lectures and events. Keep an eye on this page, and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to know.

President of the NUS, Shakira Martin


Shakira Marin and the Festival of Higher Education 2018

Further Education advocate, Shakira Martin who has pledged to “expose and demolish class barriers to education” will talk at the Buckingham festival of higher education. Shakira, who won the NUS presidency in April with 56% of the vote is the first woman from an African-Caribbean background to become NUS president and aims to ensure genuine fair access across the education sector.

Despite reports from the government which show a record number of students from less advantaged backgrounds are attending higher education institutions, she retorts:

“I find that very disrespectful. God save the minister that comes to me and says: ‘Shakira, widening participation has gone up in university.’ Um, excuse me? How many of those [students] are staying in university, how many are getting firsts at university, how many of those are going into quality jobs?”

Not enough. Martin is determined to bring change during her time as president and open people’s eyes to the economic, cultural and social barriers that deter poorer students from going to university, and the poverty and adversity they face if they do. Martin also speaks out about the high mental health rates in students and how depression is cited in far too many cases as a reason for dropping out of university. Shakira is a fresh voice in the NUS and certainly not to be missed at the Festival of Higher Education.

Social mobility will be a topic of discussion at the two-day conference along with many other issues facing higher education including mental health and well-being, freedom of speech and fair regulation in HE – are we getting the right balance between producers and consumers?

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