Join US for Universities Week!

Knight Crew in performance at Glyndebourne

The University of Sussex is backing the first Universities Week - What's the Big Idea? (14-20 June 2010) - a nationwide celebration of the key role played by universities in the UK today.

During the week, organised by universities representative body Universities UK, Sussex will be hosting fun events on and off campus and featuring in some top television shows.  The aim of the week is to raise awareness of the ways in which university knowledge and know-how enrich everyday life - from groundbreaking research and community events to staging opera and exploring the history of comedy.

What's the Big Idea will follow on from the University of Sussex open day (Saturday 12 June), during which 5,000 of the next generation of students and their families are expected to visit the campus and the University's new teaching building hear from lecturers about their work in.

More than 100 universities and linked organisations across the UK will be involved in What's the Big Idea, highlighting the essential role that universities play in sustaining our society, culture and economy.

University of Sussex Chancellor, the writer and actor Sanjeev Bhaskar, has sent a message of support to the campaign. He says: "I believe that my University experience has been essential to my life journey.  It's so much more than simply an academic exercise and despite me dramatically changing career from marketing to acting, writing and directing, the self knowledge that I gained in those four years has, I feel, made me better placed to adapt to the fast-changing world we live in.

"There is no point in our lives that we find ourselves surrounded by as many people of our own age as we do at university.  The social, emotional, moral and intellectual lessons, all under the safe umbrella of a higher education institution, become an indelible part of our character for life.

"Universities are not for everyone but everyone in society benefits from them. They are an investment in all our futures."

Events involving the University of Sussex next week include:


  • ARK! Community arts splash (June 16) - a day of art installations, performances, walks, talks and eye-catching displays, inspired by the story of the Ark. Local schoolchildren, community groups and artists will be taking part and the event is free and open to the public.   See:


  • ARK! co-organiser Julian Broughton, who is convenor of Music in the Centre for Community Engagement, will see his new work, 'Symphony in E', premiered on Saturday 19 June at 7.30pm in the Capitol Theatre, Horsham.  The work was commissioned by Horsham Symphony Orchestra with financial assistance from the PRS for Music Foundation and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust.



  • Innovate - the Product Design Degree Show  (16-19 June).  Innovate has an impressive line-up of emerging designers in a degree that has a strong reputation for consistent delivery of excellent work.  Projects range from wearable blood monitors for diabetics, communications technology for scuba divers to a makeover for a London Underground Tube train. The show will be opened by celebrity designer Oliver Heath. See:


  • Media and Film academic Andy Medhurst will be talking about the saucy history of British comedy on BBC 4's Rude Britannia series (Mon 14, Tues 15 and Weds 16 June, at 9pm on BBC 4).


  • Aimhigher Sussex Taster Sensation Day, University of Sussex: The Taster Sensation Day (16 June) is an unusual opportunity for 150 Year 9 Aimhigher participants to experience science, technology and maths in a university environment. Aimhigher supports learners who might not otherwise consider higher education, especially students who have no family experience of university.  The event is held at University of Sussex in collaboration with the University of Brighton and the Open University.  The day starts with an interactive talk on 'The 300 Million Year War: How Plants Bite Back' by University of Sussex biologist Professor Sue Hartley, who delivered this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. The students will then enjoy two different workshop tasters, ranging from the Collective Intelligence of Ants, to Advanced Sports Imaging, and Car theft and Forensic Science.  The day finishes with a demonstration by Dr Jonathan Hare from BBC's Rough Science on the Science of Mobile Phones. See:


  • Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne (9pm, Thursday 17 June) begins on BBC 2. The television show features Gareth Malone as Chorus Master for Knight Crew, an opera written by Music DPhil student Julian Philips and Glyndebourne Composer-in-Residence. Commissioned by Glyndebourne Education, the opera is designed to put youth and the community centre stage, nurturing new talent and reaching teenagers who would never normally get the chance to appear in an opera. In March this year Glyndebourne staged four performances of Knight Crew on the main stage at Glyndebourne. Gareth's journey, from auditioning the young chorus through to the final performances at Glyndebourne, was filmed by the BBC and will form part of the three-part documentary to be broadcast on BBC2 on three consecutive Thursdays, beginning Thursday 17 June. See:

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing says: "We are extremely proud of the value the University of Sussex adds to Brighton and Hove's culture and economy.  Brighton has been identified as one of the leading cities for the future in the UK, and that's due in part to our highly-qualified graduate workforce.

"Universities have direct and indirect economic benefits to the UK's economy, amounting to some £59 billion a year.  Leading research universities such as Sussex also bring in income through overseas students studying and living here, adding £5bn to the UK's economy.

"And the research which we undertake not only generates new business ideas and opportunities, but can provide ground-breaking ideas that directly benefit people - helping to find new ways to treat cancer, tackle climate change and produce new forms of clean energy."

Notes for Editors


A full list of events taking place can be found at

Supporters can also find out more about the campaign by joining the Universities Week Facebook fan page

The UK's higher education institutions have a tangible effect on our economy, generating almost £59bn of output every year.  They are some of the largest employers in their regions, and nationally create over 600,000 jobs either directly through higher education, or via knock-on effects.

The campaign is being co-ordinated by Universities UK, the representative body for all UK universities, with support from a wide range of higher education stakeholders including:

Arts and Humanities Research Council

Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services

CASE Europe

Council for Industry in Higher Education


Higher Education External Relations Association


National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement

Research Councils UK

The 1994 Group

The National Union of Students (NUS)

The Russell Group

The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association

The University College Union


University Alliance

University Marketing Forum

For further enquiries about What's the Big Idea and Universities Week, contact    

Ian Morton 020 7419 5424.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

View press releases online at:

Last updated: Friday, 11 June 2010