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End of term


Vice Chancellor Professor Julia Buckingham reflects on her time as president of Universities UK and contemplates the future

When I succeeded Janet Beer as president of Universities UK in August 2019, I expected an eventful time, given the issues on the table and the turmoil in Westminster surrounding Brexit. It never crossed my mind that my presidency would be spent supporting higher education through the most challenging period it has faced since the second world war.

The collective goals of UUK members from the outset of Covid-19 were to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff; to do the very best we could to support our students and ensure that their education continued; to sustain our research and invest in tackling the pandemic; and to support the NHS and our local communities.

We have had to make some tough calls, and the twists and turns of the virus made for a non-stop journey of change. But despite the challenges and the ever-changing policy environment and sometimes confusing political rhetoric, we have continued to teach our students and to do research; our universities never closed. There is much for higher education to take pride in, and I have tried to use my position as UUK president to promote and protect universities in the media and in political discussions with ministers, advisers and parliamentarians. Never have we as a sector been so vital to these debates.

Prof Buckingham's opinion piece was first published by ResearchProfessional News. Read the rest here.