James Purnell has been the president and vice-chancellor of the University of the Arts London (UAL) since 2021. He joined UAL after a career that included key positions at the BBC (as director of strategy and digital, and director of audio and education) and as a research fellow on the Institute of Public Policy Research’s media project. He has served as special adviser on the knowledge economy to UK prime minister Tony Blair and as an MP and cabinet minister.

This wide-ranging Campus interview draws on Purnell’s wealth of knowledge of public policy, the digital landscape and the creative industries. The conversation covers universities’ social purpose, the potential of online to widen access to a creative education, what AI could mean for the arts and how government policy could be shaped to better support students. He also talks about how urban development in cities can foster an explosion of creativity, and how his experience as a film producer shaped his view of the arts’ potential to make a difference in the world.

Listen to this podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts or Google podcasts.

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