Prof Rebecca Bunting Grad16
Date: 23rd Sep 2016
Nearly 2000 students will be attending graduation ceremonies at Bucks this week, bringing 5,000 guests with them. It is a time of wonderful celebration for the University, our students and their families and friends.
Bucks New University may have the word ‘new’ in its name but our origins go as far back as the early 1890s when we were established as a Science and Art School. We owe our origins, in part, to a highly unpopular tax imposed on beer and spirits. This was levied to provide a compensation fund for owners of drinking establishments which were forced to close when the drinks trade became regulated. The fund became so large that in 1880, Parliament decided to make it available for education purposes. Monies from this education fund and Buckinghamshire County Council jointly provided the necessary finance to build the new institution at its original site in Frogmore Gardens in High Wycombe.
Today, 125 years later, we are a very well established university with locations in Wycombe, Uxbridge, Aylesbury and Great Missenden. Our students come from across the country and the world and when they graduate are sought after by employers. Some 94.5% of our graduates were in work or further study at the latest census point. Our students are highly motivated, creative and innovative. They are also altruistic. This year, 543 students took part in volunteering activities, amassing nearly 8,000 hours over 72 different projects and many others have given their time to projects away from the University and in course representation and society and team leadership. This is a wonderful testimony to our students. I refute the assertion that young people today are only interested in themselves and don’t care about others. The University is very proud of its graduates and their efforts.
Graduation days are a turning point for our students, both looking backwards to all the hard work and things they’ve learned, the friends made and all the wonderful experiences they’ve had, but it’s also a time to look forward to a future which is not entirely known to any of them. Each will go on their own journey and in their own way.
Yet there are things which I hope all our graduates will have in common. Foremost among these is a desire to hold fast to those values which are the bedrock of a good society; honesty, integrity, not accepting what is not right, fighting to right wrongs. I hope that they will respect what is good and true and encourage others to do the same. I hope that they will have the courage to challenge prejudice and discrimination and to strive to make a fairer, more equal and just society where all can thrive.
And I hope our graduates will help to build a more ethical world where moral values prevail, not financial ones, or personal gain. They are the future, and it’s their passion and commitment that will make a difference.
All of our graduates are successes. In the developed world, it is easy to take education for granted, to assume that it is a right. It is a shocking fact that the number of people over the age of 15 in the world who are functionally illiterate exceeds 750 million and of these two thirds are women. There are more than 125 million illiterate children in the world. Sometimes figures like these are so large that they are unfathomable: we cannot grasp them. But each of those numbers is a person whose life prospects are severely damaged by their lack of education and these figures serve as a reminder of how precious education is. It is a privilege to have access to education and with privileges come responsibilities. Education changes lives. It has changed the lives of our graduates immeasurably.
They have all achieved something through hard work and application. That is a wonderful thing. I encourage each of them to not let it go to waste, to go forward and stand up for what they believe in. Be wonderful and make everything they do matter. Be proud of themselves, as we are very proud of them. Never stand still. There is so much to learn and do and they have all that wonder ahead of them.
Many congratulations to all of our graduates to whom we wish a very happy and prosperous future. They are now part of our 125 year history and we welcome them to the community of graduates of the University.