University of Bristol Postgraduate Welcome Ceremony 2019

University of Bristol Postgraduate Welcome Ceremony 2019

October 9, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


Good afternoon and welcome to the
University of Bristol. My name is Hugh Brady and I’m the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University. I have overall responsibility for
running of the institution. It’s a sort of a combination between headmaster and chief executive. I joined the University five years ago. I’m a clinician scientist by background so I graduated as a medical doctor from University College Dublin in Ireland and then trained and specialized in nephrology, so kidney disease, dialysis and transplantation at the University of Toronto. Most of my academic research career was at Harvard Medical School in Boston and then I returned to Europe to lead UCD in Dublin before keeping the very best wine until last so taking over as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol about five years ago. What attracted me to Bristol? Probably some of the same things that attracted you to Bristol. It’s a university, obviously one of the world’s top research-intensive and civic universities, but a university particularly with a great sense of combination of tradition with individuality and edge. This wonderful Great Hall in which we find
ourselves today gives you that sense of tradition. The people in it, including yourselves,
hopefully give you an illustration of the diversity of our
community at Bristol. For over a century, the University has attracted the brightest and best students from around the world and virtually all of them have graduated on the stage behind me as you will do in the near future. When you arrived today, hopefully you’ve got a little lapel badge. You got a badge? And that is symbolic, symbolizes the fact you’re now part of our learning community. The badge shows our coat of arms which was granted with the Royal Charter in 1909 and its symbols include the open book of
learning and the ship and the castle come from the medieval seal of the city of Bristol. The University mace today, so this is the University mace behind me. It also is decorated by those symbols and it was given to the University in 1910 for its first graduation ceremony and symbolizes our
authority and responsibility in conferring degrees and that mace will be
on that stage when you graduate from the University on completion of your studies. The University, very much like the city, has a unique and a wonderful personality. It has a really independent and creative
spirit, an appetite for innovation and alternative points of view. Bristol I hope you’ll find is brimming with vitality, with diversity and you’ll
always find something surprising, something creative and
something different going on here. Our teaching and our research-rich curriculum is designed to challenge you, to broaden your horizons so that you discover the reach of your full potential and through our research, world-class research institutes and schools we strive to break down barriers, to realize new discoveries and to translate fresh thinking into bold actions that benefit everyone. Students are at the very heart of our University and we’ll be will be seeking your advice on the improvements that we’re making
over the years ahead. Students are represented at all levels of governance and management in the University and we listen very carefully to what you have to say. You join us at an exciting time. We are making or have launched a series of initiatives that are designed to further enhance the
quality of the student experience and student support at our University. For example, you’ll have the opportunity not just to take that deep dive into your chosen subject but also to join our Bristol Futures curriculum which is designed to give you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and to strengthen your future career prospects through a range of innovative learning resources and
extracurricular activities. You will see major new investments in our
student supports. For example our student well-being services which are open to all students but also to our physical infrastructure, our IT infrastructure and our sports facilities. Some of you will take to life at the University of Bristol like ducks to water. You won’t have any problems but for some of you it undoubtedly will take somewhat longer to settle in and that’s very normal. And this is true for postgraduates just as it
is for undergraduates. Some of you will undoubtedly experience some challenges during your time here. Life has a way of throwing the odd curveball and that could be family issues, they could be physical health issues or mental health issues or financial pressures and what I just say to you is that if you run into problems you will be supported. At Bristol there’s always someone on hand to help.
Both the University and the Students Union have a range, a wide range of services designed to support you. So if you find yourself running into academic difficulties or other difficulties, tell us early. Don’t let it fester. And remember that it’s a sign of strength and not of weakness to seek help. During your time at Bristol we expect that you will learn as much outside of the classroom as you do inside of the classroom. The University and Students Union offer a wide variety of clubs, of academic societies, of sports facilities and volunteering opportunities
and I’d urge you to explore these opportunities and immerse
yourselves in them. You’ll learn so much from each other. You’ll have fun doing so and you’ll make friendships that should last a lifetime. To those of you who already have friends at Bristol, please go out of your way to include those who do not. If you leave Bristol with the same friends
that you entered with, you really will have missed an opportunity. To those of you who are from the UK,
I’d encourage you to include and welcome our international
students. Our University, just like our city, prides itself in having a global outlook and we’re privileged to welcome international students from well over 100 countries. So again I just urge you to include those students, learn about their countries, learn about their cultures, share your dreams and aspirations. And if you get to know each other, remember over decades ahead you’ll have somebody to visit and somebody to have dinner with in every city around the world. So please make the effort, you won’t regret it. Some of you I’m sure are very outgoing and make friends really easily but for most of you you’re probably a little bit shy and just as when you entered your undergraduate studies coming to a new university can be a little bit daunting. I just ask you to remember that most university friendships just start with
a very simple hello. In fact, and this might seem a little bit corny, I’m going to ask you right now – we’re going to take two minutes – I’m going to ask you to say hello to the person to your right and to your left, even if you don’t know them,
say who you are, what you’re studying, why you came to Bristol and what you hope to get out of it and I’ll be back to you in two minutes time okay? Okay hello, we’re back. So again I just ask you. Every lecture, every seminar, every tutorial, every laboratory, every
field trip, just make the effort to say hello to the person to your right and to your left. What is the worst thing that can happen? You never want to see them again and you don’t have to. But actually many friendships are born out of that simple hello that truly last a lifetime so just, even if you’re shy, make that effort. Finally I’d encourage you to get to know
our wonderful city. Bristol consistently ranks as one of the
finest places to live in the UK and unlike traditional campus universities, because we are a civic university not a campus university, so unlike traditional campus universities, your lecture theatres and your seminar rooms and your laboratories are literally within a stone’s throw of
wonderful galleries, museums, theatres, music venues, cafés,
shops and sporting venues. And furthermore we find ourselves partnering with the city and its institutions more and more. Many of your degree programs have learning opportunities with the city’s cultural institutions, with its
businesses and enterprises and healthcare organizations to name but a few. The University has a wide range of really innovative research partnerships with the city and its institutions
in areas such as transport, telecommunications and population health. And our students, very importantly our students contribute so much to the city through their volunteering activity
during the academic year. So our University and our city are inextricably linked. They’re part of the package. And the city adds so much to the
University of Bristol experience. So again I’d urge you to explore the city,
get to know it and enjoy it. On that note, we’re going to now have a very short film featuring some faces that may become familiar both across this university and across the city during your time with us and importantly a
message from the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees, so please look at the screen. Welcome to Bristol. Welcome to Bristol University. I’d love to offer a warm welcome to
students that come to Bristol. They’re a huge part of the city’s life.
They contribute to the energy, the vibrancy, the creativity, the innovation,
all those things that people describe Bristol as being. It’s absolutely an essential part of who we are. What I really love about Bristol is
it’s just so diverse and vibrant. You find food from all parts of the world. If there’s a cuisine you like, you can get it here somewhere I promise you. There’s so many things here in Bristol
right on your doorstep. Working together, living together, studying together, it makes it easier for us all to be part of a mixed, diverse, a welcoming community. It’s a big city but with a small community feel. You’ll find a really welcoming community who’s really excited about you being part of it. So I’d really encourage students to explore
the whole of Bristol, experience the fullness of what this place has to offer, not just exploring what there is physically in terms of the parts and the history but the diversity of cultures. 92 languages spoken in Bristol. We talk about 180 countries of origin. For the fullness of your development, interact with the world that is on your doorstep and by doing that you will become richer yourself but also you will make this city richer. I’m a different person to when I first came and it has actually increased my confidence. There’s a really strong focus at the University to promote inclusivity, to help all students access their teaching
without any barriers. Getting around in Bristol’s really easy. There are lots of bus routes and there are loads of cycle lanes. You’ll never get bored in Bristol.
There’s just so much going on. At the Students Union we have over 400 clubs,
societies and sports clubs. This is a great way for students to engage
in fun activities or organize campaigns for things that they believe in. There are lots of beautiful green spaces in Bristol
to escape the city and it’s really nice to go there and clear your mind. While you’re here, think about your social life, think about your social networks participate in physical activities, get out in
the city and volunteer. Times are going to be challenging. That’s what a degree is, but you’re going to learn so much. This is a fantastic platform, a fantastic
opportunity and we as a city will do everything we can to make sure that these are some of the best years of your life. Good, well this week you take your next
steps on a journey of academic, professional and yet personal discovery
and like all such adventures, what you get out of it will depend on
what you put into it, so we look forward to supporting you and
guiding you on your journey over the weeks, months and years ahead. At the University of Bristol we have a
wonderful Students Union who work tirelessly to represent and support students and it’s now my pleasure to welcome one
of their seven sabbatical officers, Julius Ogayo, to the podium to welcome you – Julius. Mr President and Vice-Chancellor, Sir, to my fellow students, good afternoon. My name is Julius Ogayo and I’m from Kenya. I just completed my Masters in Public Policy
here at the University of Bristol and I will be your International Students Officer at the University of Bristol Student Union. My role is to support international students to integrate into the University of Bristol community and to ensure that they have the best experience and so I look forward to interacting
with you over this year and please feel free to chat me any time. Also you are free to add me in your
social media accounts. I’ve said my role is as International Students Officer. This one does not mean that I only represent or maybe work for international students. As elected student leaders, the seven of us, all of us work together to ensure that students’ issues are addressed and so feel free to reach me out even if you are home student. It is exactly one year since I was seated in this arena just as you, the great Wills Memorial Hall, as a new student in an occasion such as this to welcome my cohort to the University of Bristol. I never imagined that I will stand
here today to welcome the cohort of 2019 / 2020 new cohort and
returning students having been elected the first International Students Officer seven months after my arrival to this university. Globally, University of Bristol is renowned for its academic excellence, by the caliber of its graduates and a
very dedicated and distinguished teaching and non-teaching staff. In this regard, the University continuously attracts talented students both within the UK and internationally because of its
excellence and reputation. Therefore I want to assure you and especially those of you who are new to Bristol that the University and the Student Union have faith in your academic capabilities just as your families have in you and that’s
why you are here. But hold, hold on and wait. I want to bring to your attention what you may not know about this University. Barely one month after arriving in the UK
and Bristol in particular I was elected a course rep for my class,
MSc Public Policy, and seven months later I ran for the position of International Students Officer in March this year. And I won against five other worthy competitors, whom some had been here for four years. What am I trying to say or to communicate here? In this university, you can achieve anything that you set yourself to achieve, regardless of your background, the duration you’ve been here, your gender, your race, your disability or any other identity group you identify yourself with. Let not your background, identity, attitude or others’ attitude limit your dreams, aspirations and ambitions. You are here, you are equal to the task and you can achieve all that you want. With over 400 student groups at the Student Union, Bristol is rich in clubs, societies, sports, student support framework and a lovely community where anybody
from any part of the world can find something or a group that will meet their other needs such as making friends, getting involved in other extracurricular activities to develop your social networks and to feel at home. We also provide volunteering and
sustainability programs, an academic advice service, a letting agency and of course the cheapest Bristol bar. Also we represent your views to the University through our seven elected full-time officers,
myself included. Also our part-time network chairs, faculty reps and hundreds of course reps here are your voice. We are there to represent your interest. In discharging our responsibility, we
closely work with the University to ensure you have the best experience that you may wish to have while studying here. Whenever faced with any challenges, please feel free to engage the University staff, the Student Union and fellow students and
I know you will get help. Also I know the University and the Union is open to new ideas and suggestions and so please feel free to share with us
through various touch points because our main objective is to make University of Bristol home away from home. Besides academics, the city of Bristol is
full of music, culture, art, political movements, community organizing, science, engineering and a
fantastically diverse population. In my opinion, one of the worst thing you could do while studying at Bristol is to leave Clifton, is not to leave Clifton sorry! While Clifton is very pleasant with its
Victorian terraces and artisan bakeries, Bristol is so much more than Clifton. So, go down the hill, explore Bristol’s
many green spaces, rows and rows of independent shops, markets, museums and community events. Visit the famous Bristol Suspension Bridge,
the Harbourside, Bristol Zoo, to get the gist of what Bristol offers. Finally, as you embark on your academic work,
I want to assure you that you made a great choice to come to Bristol. I know your expectations and those of
your family and friends are high on what the University of Bristol will offer you
at the end of your studies here. However, I want to challenge you today. What are you going to offer the
University of Bristol in return? What contribution will you be proud of, to have made after your stay in Bristol? Is it volunteering in the community, exceptional academic research which will
reconfigure human thinking and transform human life a thousand years to come or contribute in developing the student experience for the generations and cohorts coming after you? The power is in your hands.
You can do just that from today. Lord Bilimoria of the UK House of Lords said
and I quote, luck is when hard work and determination
meet opportunities. I repeat, luck is when hard work and determination
meet opportunities. Your hard work has brought you to Bristol. The opportunities, endless opportunities, are here to consider yourself lucky by the end of your studies in the University of Bristol. Thank you. Thank you Julius. It just falls to me now to
close this event. I look forward to seeing you around the campus and around the city over the weeks and months ahead and of course I’m really looking forward to
seeing you on this stage at your graduation in the not-too-distant future. So please enjoy your time with us,
work hard but have fun and find your place in our Bristol community. So welcome to the University of Bristol family.
Thank you.