The newly appointed Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, visited Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End Campus this week to see first-hand how the University complements its world-class Russell Group status with a commitment to having a positive social impact.
The visit – the first that the Minister has made to any university since being appointed to her role – gave staff and students an opportunity to talk about their lives at Queen Mary and the pioneering work they are doing together.
The visit, which took place on Thursday 27 February, began with a meeting with Professor Colin Bailey, Queen Mary’s President and Principal. Professor Bailey took the opportunity to impress upon the new Minister the importance of world class universities like Queen Mary and the support they need to continue producing outstanding research, delivering excellent education and having a positive social impact.
The Minister then met with other senior staff and Student Union officers before learning more about two of Queen Mary’s most distinctive programmes: the Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre and the Degree Apprenticeship in Social Change.
At the Legal Advice Centre the Minister met with students providing free legal advice to members of the local community. She heard from centre volunteers about their passion for the work they do and how they gain practical legal skills while helping the East London community.
Declan McLoughlin, a second year law student and volunteer in the Legal Advice Centre said:
“It was great to meet the Minister, and explain to her just how important the Legal Advice Centre is, to not only our community, but also to us as students. At the Legal Advice Centre we're given the opportunity to develop our skills as future legal professionals, and help the community at the same time, gaining so many skills for life in the process."
The Minister completed her visit by meeting with the first cohort of students on Queen Mary’s Degree Apprenticeship in Social Change, a pioneering programme that gives students the opportunity to gain work experience in the third sector while earning a degree.
Apprenticeship Manager, Jamie Hilder said:
“We have worked very hard at Queen Mary to develop and launch the Degree Apprenticeship in Social Change, and I’m incredibly proud of our apprentices and the programme's success to date.
“Being able to share these successes with the Minister will go a long way in promoting similar programmes as an innovative approach in higher education.”
The Legal Advice Centre and Degree Apprenticeship in Social Change are just two examples of how Queen Mary fulfils its social commitments alongside producing world class research.
Professor Colin Bailey said:
“I’m very proud that Ms Donelan chose Queen Mary as the first institution to visit in her new role. The Minister will have been well aware that we are an internationally leading research intensive University, delivering world-class education, but may not have known just how seriously we take our social commitments. I’m delighted that our staff and students were able to spend some time talking to her about this and the work they do in our local community and beyond."
Minister for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP said:
“It was great to hear from the passionate staff and students from Queen Mary about the social outreach work they do engaging with the local community in East London.
“This was my first university visit in my new role, and I also enjoyed hearing the views of students about the issues which are important to them, helping my understanding of student experience which is at the heart of higher education.”
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