There are no barriers to what you can do

  • Tuesday, May 30, 2023

“There are no barriers to what you can do” – Alastair Campbell and Sadiq Khan address state school sixth form pupils at University of Roehampton London

 The University of Roehampton London has welcomed the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and former Government Head of Communications and Strategy and leading advocate for mental health, Alastair Campbell, in a campus event that celebrates literature and introduces higher education opportunities to state school sixth form students.

Image - There are no barriers to what you can do

The ‘Introduction to University’ event, held on 24 May, in collaboration with Wimbledon BookFest, gave 600 sixth form students from five Merton and Wandsworth state schools the opportunity to experience and explore higher education for themselves.

In addition to guest speakers Campbell and Khan, students heard from academics in law, economics, English, life sciences, biomedical sciences, film and digital, criminology, nursing, history and politics. Non-academic talks included student finance guidance, the UCAS application process and the experience of being a university student.

Students quizzed both Campbell – following his speech on "Politics but what can I do?", which highlighted how young people can make a difference and the importance being confident in your beliefs  – and Khan, who urged young people to be involved with politics to make a change. Khan also focused on young people's involvement in making London a more innovative, greener city for future generations. Both Campbell and Khan quoted climate activist Greta Thunberg as an example of a young person who has made a real difference.

Wimbledon BookFest was founded in 2006 and focuses on promoting arts, culture and education. As part of The University of Roehampton London's collaboration with Wimbledon BookFest this event allows students in local boroughs, such as Merton and Wandsworth, to discover and ask questions on higher education on-site, including the value of university, higher education and the importance of literature. It also enables students to engage with taster lectures across various subject areas and learn more about student life at the University of Roehampton London. This is especially important as the cost of living crisis continues to grip the country and influences students' decisions on whether to consider higher education.

Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London. Born and raised in Tooting, South London, he began his career as a human rights lawyer before being elected to parliament in 2005. He was elected Mayor in 2016 and re-elected in 2021, with a record number of votes for any sitting Mayor. His book, "Breathe, Tacking the Climate Emergency", published on 25 May, discusses the climate change crisis, air pollution, and its impact on asthma.

Alastair Campbell is a consultant writer, strategist and broadcaster, who was served as the former Government Head of Communications and Strategy and spokesperson, under Tony Blair's leadership from 2000-2003. He is now a leading advocate on mental health and co-host of the "Rest is Politics" podcast alongside Cabinet Minister Rory Stewart. The podcast discusses the political divide in Westminster and offers an insider view of politics at home and abroad. He has also been involved with Wimbledon BookFest, speaking to young people at external events and highlighting his new book "What Can I Do: why politics has gone so wrong and how you can help fix it, " focusing on young people's role in politics.

Professor Jean-Noel Ezingeard, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Roehampton London, said, “It’s a privilege to host students from Merton and Wandsworth schools on our campus and give them a glimpse of the opportunities that are open to them at University. The University plays a vital role in the local community and inspiring school students to pursue further education to develop the skills and confidence they need for a successful career. Through our ongoing partnership with Wimbledon BookFest and this week’s ‘Introduction to University’, we hope to highlight the importance of lifelong development and leave them inspired to pursue opportunities in higher education.”

Regarding the event, Fiona Razvi, Festival Director of Wimbledon BookFest said, “By bringing these students onto campus and having them hear from such inspirational public figures such as the Mayor of London and academics at the University of Roehampton London, we’ve aimed to fan the flames of those interested in University and the opportunities it will present. Many of these students are approaching the crucial stage of deciding whether University is for them or not. This event provides students with an amazing opportunity to experience a university environment first-hand and learn more about the value of higher education for those that are set on going to university and those who are yet to decide."

The Mayor London, Sadiq Khan said, “This has been an inspiring event with hundreds of young Londoners passionate about tackling one of the biggest threats we face in the climate emergency. We need this generation to speak up and be heard on the issues that will define our city and country in the years ahead. I was proud to join authors and academics from a wide range of backgrounds to hear from so many young Londoners as they look ahead to their future careers."