Night Waves brings together an outspoken panel at the University of Sunderland to tackle one of the most pressing issues for future generations: What do we really want from universities and graduates in the 21st century?
Cash-strapped and oversubscribed, the pressure on universities and students seems unprecedented. The coalition government is committed to cuts in budgets as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, but the A level results over the summer already revealed a tight squeeze on the numbers of new entrants. So how should universities react? Should they be applying ruthless business models, bringing in evermore lucrative foreign students and forming closer bonds with industry and business?
And what abouit students? With the publication of the Browne report on student funding, must they accept that universities are not the old kind of "seats of learning" and that they should consider themselves customers as much as scholars?
To find some answers, Night Waves presenter Philip Dodd heads to the University of Sunderland which has confidently expanded and is proud of its business links. With the audience at the National Glass Centre, Philip's guests are Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute; local entrepreneur and Chair of the University of Sunderland's Board of Governors, Paul Callaghan; Nicola Dandridge of the body that represents universities in Britain, Universities UK and Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle University, James Tooley.
This edition of Night Waves is one of three programme recorded across the North East ahead of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking festival at The Sage Gateshead in November.
Producer: Kirsty Pope.