Another year ends with so much to celebrate

UCLan's Prof  Mike Thomas
UCLan's Prof Mike Thomas
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Our graduation ceremonies are the highlight of the university year.

An opportunity to showcase the many successes and achievements of the past academic year, we are delighted to share a selection of their success stories in this special graduation supplement.

The past academic year saw great progress where we are now estimated to be among the top 3.7 per cent of universities by the Centre for World University Rankings and, as the first modern university in the UK to be included in the prestigious QS World Rankings, we retained our kite mark of four out of five QS Stars for excellence.

It always gives a real boost to everyone connected with the university when they hear of an initiative or an individual who has received recognition for their work and this academic year saw some notable achievements.

In November UCLan won the ‘Excellence and Innovation in the Arts’ category at the Times Higher Education Awards for its Global Sound Movement project, a unique digital arts initiative which captures the sounds of rare and exotic musical instruments from remote villages across the globe for commercial use with profits donated back to the communities.

At the end of 2016 Professor Caroline Watkins, the only nursing stroke care professor in the UK, was recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List when she was made a Dame.

In January we officially inaugurated our new chancellor, Ranvir Singh, into the Central Lancashire family.

The Preston-born TV journalist graduated from our university in 2000 and took over the role from Sir Richard Evans, who served us with distinction and commitment as Chancellor since 2001.

It was a day I will always remember and one that symbolically signified the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our university’s development.

In Ranvir we have someone who is hugely committed to the university, the city and the region.

She will relish the challenges ahead and I look forward to working alongside her in the coming years.

National media attention came to the university in March when Lubaina Himid, the university’s Professor of Contemporary Art, was shortlisted for the world famous Turner Prize.

April saw the university and Lancashire Constabulary enter into a strategic partnership to set up a forensic science academy, the first collaboration of its kind within policing and forensic science in the UK where forensic experts and students will work alongside each other to research, investigate and deliver forensic science services in Lancashire.

We have also received national recognition throughout the past year.

The Guardian named us one of the UK’s most improved universities while The Sunday Times highlighted UCLan ‘one of Britain’s largest and most inclusive universities’ and ‘one of the most enterprising’.

It added, ‘it takes very seriously its mission to make higher education available to the biggest possible audience and is one of the few universities that betters all its benchmarks for widening participation’.

Our Medical School is a great example of how the university is creating opportunities for talented people from a diverse range of backgrounds, who would love the opportunity to study medicine, become a doctor and help solve some of the health inequalities our local communities face.

We will continue to help talented people from all walks of life to make the most of their potential; moulding informed leaders, creative thinkers and bold business minds.

We are a university where committed people are inspired to develop their ideas and dreams and that includes self-employment via graduate start-up businesses.

UCLan continues to be ranked the leading UK university for incubated start-up businesses still active after three years of trading so any graduates with an entrepreneurial idea or two, come and talk to us - there is no better place to get your plans into sustainable reality.

Helping our students and graduates realise their personal and career aspirations is incredibly important to us and for graduates today the good news is that the latest Government employment statistics show 93.9 per cent of UCLan graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduation, our highest performance to date.

Behind every one of our graduates is a record of sustained hard work and commitment in an increasingly competitive environment.

I pay tribute to everyone who has helped support our new graduates, including families and friends, without whose moral and financial backing, success would not have been achieved. University, staff both academic and specialist services, also played a key role in helping our students to achieve their goals and I salute their hard work and commitment.

The university is extremely proud of its graduates and I hope you, as readers of this supplement, will join us in congratulating them on their success and wishing them well for the future.