#loveHE: Deliberate, cogitate, digest

The pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong commitment and an enduring passion for television stalwart Loyd Grossman

June 17, 2010

I am greatly inspired by a quote from the American philosopher John Dewey: "Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself."

Learning is something I believe in and is the reason why I have continued my own higher education experiences throughout my adult life.

I graduated from Boston University with a BA in history and then moved to the UK in 1975 for postgraduate study at the London School of Economics. I decided to stay here for a number of reasons, one of which was the opportunity for continued learning. I feel very lucky that I have been able to experience higher education on both sides of the Atlantic.

Continuously learning new things and being challenged and stimulated by them is incredibly exciting, and it is for this reason that I went back for my third stint as a student, this time at the University of Cambridge. I completed an MPhil in art history there and am now in the process of finishing the first year of my PhD.

Higher education is one of the things Britain does best: it is no coincidence that it is one of the most popular destinations for overseas students and has a disproportionate number of universities in the world's top 100 in all the major global rankings.

It is one of the things Britain is an absolute world leader in and is of immense value. Considering universities only to the extent to which they are useful to the economy is a half-blind way of looking at it; the academy needs to be recognised and appreciated for all the unbelievable benefits it brings to the country and the world.

The variety of British higher education is one of the things that make it so impressive. Quite often, people do not realise just how immense it is.

There are all sorts of establishments, with the world-leading institutions representing only one small part of the whole. There is a lot more on offer, aimed at a variety of people, with innumerable subjects and new ways of learning.

I am committed to continuous education for everyone. The idea that it is just a phase you go through before moving on to something else is insane.

Education is about discovering more about the world and the people around you: the more you know, the more you question and interrogate and the more fascinating things become.

We live in a time when many social ills stem from people not caring about or not understanding other cultures and traditions, so anything that makes people more engaged is going to be of benefit to everyone.

I was on the council of the LSE from 2003 to 2008. One of the great things about the institution is the degree to which academics are involved in running the place. The chance to work with them was fascinating and a great learning experience in itself. It is vital that we defend the role of academics and allow them to play the most prominent part possible in order to keep the sector thriving.

Two years ago I became chairman of the University for the Creative Arts. The arts are a very important part of my life and creativity is important for everyone. The opportunity to help get a new university up and running does not happen too often, and it has provided me with the chance to support the vice-chancellor and other senior members of staff. Representing the institution is a great honour.

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