University history celebrated at House of Commons

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Date: 7th Jul 2017

Paralympian and graduate Naomi Riches MBE and High Wycombe MP Steve Baker were among the guests at Bucks New University’s 125th anniversary celebrations at the House of Commons on Wednesday.

More than 100 dignitaries, business leaders, staff and guests gathered at The State Rooms in Speaker’s House on the banks of the Thames to mark the occasion.Picture of MP Steve Baker, Naomi Riches MBE and Professor Rebecca Bunting

The University was established originally as a Science and Art School thanks 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. Money from this education fund, Buckinghamshire County Council and local fundraising fairs provided the necessary finance to build the new institution at its original site in Frogmoor Gardens, High Wycombe.

More than 10 name changes, and several sites and types of institution later, Bucks achieved university status in 2007 - making this year not only its 125th but also its 10th anniversary of being a University.

MP Steve Baker said: “It was a pleasure for me to host a reception at the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the achievements of Buckinghamshire New University in its 125th anniversary year. The University has developed into an important educational institution not only for Wycombe but also further afield, winning a number of important awards. I congratulate the University staff and students past and present for their many achievements and hope for further success in the coming years."

Vice-Chancellor Professor Rebecca Bunting thanked Mr Baker for making the event venue possible and added: “For 125 years we have been at the heart of education in High Wycombe, and today our reach also extends to our other campuses.

“Throughout our history we have changed lives through employment-focused and skills-based teaching which enables students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their ambitions.

“This may only be our tenth year as a university but we’ve been transforming lives for 125 years, and long may that continue.”

British adaptive rower Naomi, from Marlow, first tried the sport in 2004 while at Bucks New University studying for a degree in Designed Metalwork and Jewellery.

The 34-year-old said: “I am so proud to have graduated from Bucks. The support I received from my tutors and fellow students whilst I was there, and during the early years of my rowing career, is part of what set me on the road to success.”

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