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    'New beginning' for the Class of 2023 marked at Harper Adams University Graduation Ceremony

    Posted 22 September 2023

    “The world needs Harper Adams and its graduates more than ever before. I know I can rely on you to step up in your own way in response to world events now and in the future.”

    “Today marks a new beginning” graduates have been told, as the Harper Adams class of 2023 celebrated at the University’s annual Graduation event.

    The event comprised two ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and celebrated students who completed their courses in the 2022-23 academic year. Family members, supporters, guests, governors, employees and friends assembled at each ceremony to watch the assembled graduands become graduates.  

    Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan opened both ceremonies with a speech noting his belief Harper Adams had enjoyed a year which ‘marked a further turning point in the University’s history.’

    He noted: “We were named Specialist University of the Year 2024 by the Times and Sunday Times, we were ranked the top Modern University in the UK in the Daily Mail University Guide, and we were placed within the top five UK universities for delivering courses that prepare their students for future careers in the latest National Student Survey.

    “Earlier in the year, at the WhatUni Student Choice Awards, we took the top spot in the Career Prospects category for the seventh year in a row. 

    “Before Christmas, in the Knowledge Exchange Framework, we retained our position within the top 10 per cent of science and technology universities working with business, and were officially recognised as a world-leading specialist English university by the Office for Students, one of only 16 institutions to be granted this status and the only one in our specialism. 

    “These are significant achievements, not least because nearly all of them are based on either the views and responses, or the achievements, of our students. They also reflect the tireless and energetic commitment of our academic, technical and professional service employees.

    “As such, I believe they are the very best measures of how well we are doing as a university and reflect the authentic university experience of those in front of me today.”

    Guest speakers drawn from the Harper Adams alumni community addressed each ceremony, with the morning session hearing from BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing and Practice Management alumna Phillipa Richmond and the afternoon session from Entomology MSc graduate Dr Liam Crowley.

    And the most recent past Students’ Union President, Jess Millbank, also spoke, telling students: “Today we mark the end of this hopefully unforgettable journey, the people you have met, the memories and the knowledge you have gained here, as well as the invaluable friendships that will last a lifetime.

    “It also marks the beginning of a new era, one where we can use the knowledge we have gained over the past few years to shape, change and develop the future we want to be in.”

    The day also marked two decades of collaboration between Harper Adams and Beijing Agricultural University, with Professor Wu Yan, the institution’s Vice-President, addressing the morning ceremony.

    During her speech, she highlighted the two decades of friendship, collaboration, and staff and student exchange between her institution and Harper Adams, noting the 1,000th degree resulting from the partnership was set to be awarded during the day’s ceremonies.

    She added: “Dear graduates, you are stepping into a new experience in your life. There might be challenges ahead that feel like sailing through a giant wave and wind. I hope you will equip yourself with the sail of strong confidence and solid knowledge, to face the future challenges and pursue success in your destinations.

    “With international vision, hardworking, awareness of social and public responsibilities, and stable development with long-term perspective, you will lead a meaningful life.”

    Professor Sloan told the graduands: “Today marks a new beginning. 

    "On graduation, you will be joining a community of over 25,000 alumni of Harper Adams and, like them, I hope you will get involved in our alumni activities including joining the Harper Club, and continue to stay connected with the University, and future generations of our students.”

    However, he noted, they would be graduating into a world which presents a disparate range of challenges.

    He added: “We are witnessing the displacing of populations through climate impacts, war or through desperation. All of these combine together to create conditions where the ability to manage land and natural resources to deliver necessary food security and limit negative climate impacts is getting harder and harder.

    “My tone in that last section may present me as a pessimist. I can reassure you that I am not.

    “I am an optimist to my core. In the face of such complex challenges, how can this be?

    “Quite simply: because of you and the people I work with. Your commitment and determination to make the difference fills me with both optimism and pride.

    “The world needs Harper Adams and its graduates more than ever before. I know I can rely on you to step up in your own way in response to world events now and in the future.”

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