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Sir Nigel Thrift

This lecture looks at how the status of a university has been redefined over the last 20 years. It covers the strands of activity that universities have found themselves engaged in, and considers the shift in what is classed as a ‘university’.

There’s an insight into the conflicted values of a modern university, and the tensions that arise as a result of that conflict. How should universities restructure themselves to tackle these conflicted interests? Should free rein be given to new strands of activity, or should institutions exert greater control?

We also hear, after these unpredictable years in higher education, whether there’ll be a reinstatement of a certain kind of honour in the lives of universities.

Professor Sir Nigel Thrift

Professor Nigel Thrift was Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick from 2006 to January 2016. Having launched an ambitious strategy for Warwick’s future, he led the University in: implementing an extensive capital plan; achieving a large increase in research income; producing high levels of philanthropic income; establishing high-profile partnerships and research collaborations and rapidly increasing Warwick’s international profile. Professor Thrift was instrumental in building on Warwick’s strong links with business and industry, both nationally and internationally. He was previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Oxford.

Born in Bath and educated at Aberystwyth and Bristol, Nigel is one of the world’s leading human geographers and social scientists. His research spans a broad range of interests, including international finance; cities and political life; non-representational theory; affective politics; and the history of time. He was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003. He has Honorary LLDs from the Universities of Bristol and Monash and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands in 2014. He was knighted for his services to higher education in the New Year’s Honours List 2015.

Philip Collins

Philip Collins is a columnist and chief leader writer for The Times. He is also the chair of the board of trustees at the independent think tank Demos. Before joining The Times he was the Chief Speech Writer for the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, the Director of the Social Market Foundation think-tank and an Equity Strategist at two investment banks.