IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: Universities in medialand: the public discussion of higher education

30 March 2021, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

Person reading news on their tablet. Image: Kaboompics from Pexels

This special 200th Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) seminar will include a panel featuring journalists from The Guardian, The Economist, Times Higher Education and Wonkhe, alongside Peter Scott and Nick Hillman.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Centre for Global Higher Education

Policy is now thoroughly political, and politics is a thoroughly public matter. The media (both journalist-based information and unmediated social networks, and the interactions between them) constitute the ‘public’ in contemporary societies. 

Of the two the journalist-based media has the main role in defining public issues, problems, and shaping – and sometimes slanting – content. As mass higher education systems and research have moved to a more central position in society, inevitably they have figured more in the media.

Routinely, information media and social media open up issues inside the sector. While for their part, university leaders and their organisations attempt to work the media – not always successfully – on their own behalf, all the time with one eye on politicians’ responses to media coverage. 

Much of ‘university engagement’ and ‘research impact’ is normally conducted via both kinds of media. Buried in all of this are core assumptions about accountability and responsibility. 

This event will explore the questions: 

  • When universities are pinged for dissatisfied COVID-afflicted students who want a discount on their tuition fees, who is being held to account, the institutions or the policy makers? 
  • Are universities responsible not just to government but to the public – and if they are directly responsible to the public, can media speak on behalf of the public? If not, who does?


  • Hamish Birrell, The Economist
  • Anna Fazackerley, The Guardian
  • Chris Havergal, Times Higher Education
  • Nick Hillman, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)
  • Debbie McVitty, Wonkhe
  • Peter Scott, UCL Institute of Education


Image: Kaboompics from Pexels