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Vice-Chancellor speaking at podium at Hong Kong event

Over the last few weeks, our Vice-Chancellor and Warden, Professor Karen O’Brien, has travelled to Hong Kong and Australia to catch up with two of our thriving alumni communities and one of our strategic research partners.

Hong Kong – an established alumni and supporter community

Hong Kong eventThe reception at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong was well supported by the established Durham community locally. The Vice-Chancellor hosted the event, enthusiastically sharing highlights from our updated University strategy and offering her perspective on the future direction for the University.

As many of the guests were Business School graduates, it was of particular interest that the Vice-Chancellor was able to introduce Professor Cathy Cassell, Executive Dean of The Business School. Professor Cassell spoke about major developments at The School, including the Waterside, a new Business School building opening in Summer 2024. The city centre location will not only offer state of the art facilities to students and staff, but will also become a centre of excellence for business education in the local community. The opening will be ahead of the School’s 60th anniversary. Professor Cassell was keen to include our global community to be part of the celebrations.

The Executive Dean also shared the great news that our MBA programme has once more been re-accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and  our Online MBA has been ranked 8th in the World in the Financial Times Online MBA Ranking 2023 and our Global MBA 1st in the UK, 5th in Europe for value for money in the Financial Times Global MBA ranking 2023. She also spoke about the diversity of Durham’s international research partnerships. These included the renewal of our prestigious partnership with The Palace Museum in Beijing, which signifies the continuing commitment to promoting joint research, conservation and cultural heritage protection. 

Vice-Chancellor and alumni at Hong Kong eventAlmost 100 guests attended the event, one of whom was Andy Chan (MBA, University College, 1990-94), an enthusiastic member of the local alumni community. He said, “Many new and old faces came to the Hong Kong event, bringing their wish to meet our new Vice-Chancellor as well as other members of our University. While activities in Asia have been suspended for few years, everyone showed great desire to meet together.”

Australia – a developing community

Vice-Chancellor and alumni at Sydney eventThe second part of the trip was to Australia, which afforded a great opportunity to meet up with our growing alumni community in Sydney. The relaxed reception took place in Cruise Bar on the riverside, overlooking the iconic Sydney Opera House. 

Again, Professor O’Brien updated guests on the University’s strategy and her perspective on the future. She thanked our Australian alumni, in particular, the Sydney Alumni Chapter, for their contribution to the University and local alumni activity over the past decade. In that time, the vibrant community has grown significantly, and as Durham is welcoming increasingly more students from Australia, the more engaged and connected the alumni and supporters have become. 

Strengthening strategic partnerships

Matariki members including VCWhilst in Australia, our Vice-Chancellor also attended and chaired the Matariki Network of Universities’ Annual Board Meeting in Perth. The Matariki Network of Universities is a strategic partnership between seven international universities collaborating on research projects and educational best practice. The Board meeting coincided with the launch of a call for research funding on September 25.

Last stop on the agenda for the Vice-Chancellor was attending the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit hosted at the University of Sydney. Professor O’Brien joined university leaders from across five continents to discuss the challenges faced by university leaders today.

When talking about these receptions and engagements, the Vice-Chancellor said:

“We have a younger and increasingly more global alumni community, and as I engage with them around the world, I observe that they are primarily connected with the ethical values that Durham represents. These values are particularly represented in our updated strategy, around sustainability, and around social inclusion and social purpose.”

After a busy couple of weeks of events, engagements and meetings, the Vice-Chancellor returned to Durham in time to welcome in the new cohort of students at this year’s matriculation ceremonies. A true full circle from connecting with our thriving alumni community across the globe to welcoming the next generation who we know will go on to inspire the extraordinary.

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