The Oxford Forum

The Oxford Forum is a student run organisation which encourages discourse and debate within Oxford, allowing students to engage with a diverse range of issues.

Past Presidents

Starting a new society in Oxford is not easy; it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, build a loyal support base and run world class speaker events. Making this last is even more difficult. Yet, due to committed and passionate committee members, the Oxford Forum continues to go from strength to strength.
— Kes Daood, Founder and President for Michaelmas 2015

+ Kes Daood (Christ Church) - Michaelmas 2015

“Some speaker highlights include Hugh Pym (Health Editor at the BBC), Michael Cockerell (distinguished political journalist), Jess Phillips MP (Labour Party politician), Jonathan Isaby (Chief Executive of TaxPayers’ Alliance) and Sir Andrew Wood (former British Ambassador to Russia). All provided extremely insightful commentary, which was often particularly relevant for the time in which they were speaking.”

+ Guy Butler (St Edmund’s Hall) - Hilary 2016

“We had a very well attended panel on Syria co-hosted with the PPE Society, a fantastic student debate on tuition fees, a challenging but effective Brexit debate, and a brilliant discussion about artificial intelligence. Being the President of the Forum will always be challenging, but I'd encourage all those who take on that role in the future to reflect back on what the Forum was created for.”

+ Wojciech Woźnicki (Christ Church) - Trinity 2016

“During my term as President of the Forum, we organised four panel discussions. The first event was on “The Modern Face of Terrorism” and it dealt with changing threats to the West and how to counter them. Amongst our panellists were the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner, and former high-ranking MI6 officer, Sir Richard Barrett.

Our second panel, titled “Sex & Gender”, discussed the scientific context of the distinction between the two, and featured, amongst others, Gina Rippon, Professor of Psychology at Aston University, and Dr Andy Greenfield from the Medical Research Council.

Our third debate on “The Story of Mass Migration” featured distinguished panellists discussing the ethics of migration, with a focus on the then-ongoing refugee crisis. The panel was chaired by the philosopher, David Miller, and included scholars specialising in human rights, demographics, and citizenship.

In our last panel: “Islam & Feminism”, our guests, Professor Masooda Bano, Professor Shabbir Akhtar, and Sheikh Fahimul Anam, discussed the compatibility of various Islamic traditions with modern western feminism, and feminist traditions within Islam.

Additionally, we also hosted an event with Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Head of Diversity, discussing the reasons and ways in which technology companies should diversify.”

+ Ben Evans (University) - Michaelmas 2016

“In my term we held several panel events on topics ranging from the value of democracy through to immigration and climate change. We also held a couple of individual speaker events featuring Jon Cruddas MP, amongst others.”

+ Louis McEvoy (Christ Church) - Hilary 2017

“In my term we held four panel events on topics ranging from globalisation and mass immigration to the changing relationship between the media and democracy. Speakers included former Guardian Editor-in-Chief, Alan Rusbridger, Stephen Kinnock MP, and Steven Woolfe MEP.”

+ Brian Wong (Pembroke) - Trinity 2017

“In my term, the Forum primarily focused on structural reforms, such as introducing its first ever Women's Officer and an access-centric report on the quality of representation and diversity of the Forum's panels. We saw panels convened on issues ranging from populism and radicalism (featuring panellists such as the established political sociologists James Tilley and Matthias Dilling), to the role played by private education and grammar schools in rectifying socioeconomic inequalities, to discussions on the future of Europe. In terms of individual speakers, we hosted Larry Sanders, local councillor in Oxford and brother of Bernie Sanders, for a talk on the importance of green and progressive politics in the Trumpian era.”

+ Altair Brandon-Salmon (Wadham) - Michaelmas 2017

“In my term, we held seven events, featuring a diverse array of speakers, from Bill Kristol to Christopher Le Brun, and Sir Ivor Crewe. Subjects spanned from the future of British universities to the rise of the 'New Right', and we had a mixture of speaker and student panels.”

+ Benjamin van Laar (University) - Hilary 2018

“As President I oversaw a number of panel discussions on topics ranging from women’s education in the developing world, to the #MeToo movement, to whether social democracy was in crisis. We also hosted a student debate on the motion “This House Believes That Oxford Merely Serves to Perpetuate an Elitist Groupthink”, which I was delighted to chair at my own college, University. Throughout the term, we hosted leading academics such as Professor Masooda Bano and Dr David Johnson, as well as exciting young journalists like Julia Rampen. We were particularly grateful to have Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, speak on our women’s education panel. The Forum also teamed up with Schools Plus to deliver a panel on educational inequality in Britain, and with the Oxford Israel Forum to host human rights campaigner Hillel Neuer.”

+ Edward Ford (St Peter's) - Trinity 2018

“The primary aim of the Oxford Forum has always been to facilitate engagement with public policy on a deeper level than is usually possible. During my term as president, the Forum shifted our key focus to areas of public policy which often remain under-discussed at Oxford. In an event on the future of work, we were privileged to hear from Anneliese Dodds, the MP for Oxford East, and Grace Blakeley, IPPR Research Fellow and economics commentator at The New Statesman. Meanwhile, the New Statesman’s digital assistant editor and former editor of sister site CityMetric, Jonn Elledge, was one of the guest speakers on our panel on the UK housing crisis.*

+ Jake Davies (Queen's) - Michaelmas 2018

"In my term as President, the Forum put on a wide range of events in terms of the format and the subjects that we covered. Our guest speaker panel discussions were on topical issues from the financing of higher education to the US midterms; the former panel featured the special adviser to the Universities Minister who trebled tuition fees in the UK, Nick Hillman, while the latter included world-renowned Financial Times journalist, Gideon Rachman. The Forum also led in organising the termly three party debate between students of the Oxford University Conservative Association, Oxford University Liberal Democrats, and student members of the Labour Party. As a big New Statesman fan, I was also delighted when the magazine’s deputy editor, Helen Lewis, came to speak to us about a book she’s writing on feminism; for this speaker event, Helen was in conversation with our Women’s Officer, Anisha Faruk. Finally, the Forum offered something entirely different this term in the form of a CV workshop catered to the career minded amongst us."

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