A week-long programme of public events will begin today showcasing the breadth and excitement of English studies in contemporary UK higher education.

From online interviews and conversations with renowned experts and authors to in-person exhibitions and guest lectures, the series of events is being orchestrated by the national #EnglishCreates campaign.

Backed by high-profile graduates such as comedian David Baddiel and poet Patience Agbabi, #EnglishCreates has been showcasing the skills and competencies the subject can offer students, as well as countering ‘misleading myths’ about its contribution to the nation.

It is being led by University English (the English national subject association), in association with English departments at UK higher education institutes, including Oxford, Exeter and Reading.

It comes at a time when some universities are closing courses due to a steep fall over the last decade in the number of young people studying the subject at A level and beyond.

“English degrees today are incredibly diverse, including literature from across the world, engagement with multiple textual forms, and connection with today’s key social and cultural questions,” says Professor Gail Marshall, Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Reading and Chair of University English. “And it remains a high-value degree, producing graduates who are appreciated by employers for their skills of critical thinking, communication and collaboration. They’re independent, engaged with the world, and ready for the flexible workplaces of the future.”

Around 20 events have been scheduled for the campaign week, taking place across the country but with many also being held online to enable as many people as possible to attend. They include a conversation with Oxford alumni Patience Agbabi, journalist Dhruti Shah and restaurant consultant Flo Graham-Dixon, who will reflect on their career journeys since graduating with an English degree.

Other events include: Carol Atherton in conversation with Robert Eaglestone, discussing her critically acclaimed memoir Reading Lessons: the books we read at school, the conversations they spark, and why they matter; a panel on Oracy considering what looks like a key plank of the Labour education platform; Ralph Pite delivering a lecture on the role of the arts and humanities in climate change education; and the University of Exeter hosting its annual Teagarden Lecture, welcoming Dr Christine Okoth, Lecturer in Literatures and Cultures of the Black Atlantic, at King’s College London, who will speak on ‘Race, Mediation, and the Problem of Extractive Reading’. Some events are held in partnership with the English Association, which is a major supporter of #EnglishCreates.

“From AI to climate change, employability to the experience of reading, the week of events is a truly diverse culmination to our campaign,” adds Professor Andrew McRae, Director of the campaign in Exeter’s Department of English and Creative Writing. “And that reflects the deeper purpose to the campaign itself: to hopefully showcase the myriad ways that English underpins our national culture and economy; to correct some of the misconceptions that cling stubbornly to English degrees; and to celebrate the skills it offers graduates.”

Among other national figures supporting the campaign include writers Ali Smith and Jeanette Winterson, and children’s author Francesca Simon.

Professor Andrew McRae talks about the skills offered by an English degree