Professor Nicola Padfield QC (Hon), MA, Dip Crim, DES gave a personal review of the past six years as Master of Fitzwilliam College to an invited audience at London’s iconic Leadenhall Building.
The Fitz in the City event on 6 June saw Professor Padfield reflect on her appointment as Master in October 2013 – a post she will be stepping down from in September. It was the first in a series of new events, designed to bring those Fitz alumni living and working in London together to discuss pressing topics of the day.
The Master described how her time at Fitzwilliam had coincided with a period of significant change in the Higher Education landscape in the UK, including the highly controversial introduction of the £9,000 tuition fee.
She said: “The Augar review of Post-18 Education and Funding, published on 30 May, recommended a reduction in those fees, with no guarantee of how the shortfall would be met.
“I had the benefit of a system of no fees and generous grants. Tuition fees were introduced by Labour in 1998 and we’ve now had £9,000+ tuition fees since 2012.
“In February 2018, Theresa May launched a review of post-18 education funding, including university funding and possible alternatives to tuition fees and loans. I agree with Theresa May that we should reduce the burden of debt on young people, but the future remains very uncertain.”
Professor Padfield also considered the changing political climate and the ambiguity surrounding Brexit, which is likely to affect the University's ability to recruit and retain academic staff, non-academic staff and students. She applauded the way that universities are now being asked to play a significant role in promoting and increasing social mobility in the UK, with unprecedented pressure on the Collegiate University to implement policies and initiatives to widen access. She also explored a number of ethical issues which face the College, from investments to inclusivity, from historic slavery to modern harassment.
Professor Padfield is Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991. She has held a number of posts in the College including President, Director of Studies and Admissions Tutor.