Students Staff
University of Essex

July 28, 2017

Farewell and thank you to our Chancellor, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti

Our Chancellor, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, has attended her final Essex graduation ceremonies before stepping down. Our Vice-Chancellor described the incredible impact she has had on our community, in his speech. 

You can hear Shami talk about her experience as Chancellor in our video

This is the final graduation ceremony that Baroness Shami Chakrabarti will preside over as, after today, she steps down as Chancellor of the University.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti.

I’d like, if I may, to say a few brief words of thanks on behalf of the University.


Since becoming our Chancellor in 2014, you have made an incredible impact on our community just as we knew you would. You have served as our Chancellor with distinction and we thank you.

You have been a perfect match for us, a wonderful ambassador representing the Essex spirit and personifying the values that the University holds dear.

You have always been prepared to speak out, to challenge inequality and injustice. You are curious and creative. Critical and questioning. You champion what is right, and challenge what is wrong. That spirit is what you brought to us, what you did whilst with us, and what I know you will continue to do.

You have been a fantastic role model and an inspiration to our students and to us all.

But this is not goodbye. Just like our graduates, you are part of Essex now. A member of the greatest club on earth.
A member of the University of Essex family for life.

A day of celebration – Graduation 2017

Our Graduation ceremonies were a time for celebration. Here you can read the full speech as delivered by our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster.

graduation 3 300x200Today is a day of celebration

Graduation is the absolute high point of the academic year and is a wonderful occasion to celebrate your hard work and achievements. On behalf of the University, I would like to congratulate you on the successful award of your degrees.

I know that you have worked hard during your time here but knowing Essex students as I do, you will have had a lot of fun along the way and will leave with fond memories of your time here.

Many of your families, friends and supporters, have travelled from over 130 countries to be part of this celebration – which perfectly demonstrates that at Essex you really do find the world in one place.

For those of you graduating whose loved ones have not been able to make the journey, the ceremony is being streamed live around the world. So, I would like to extend a warm welcome to those watching and listening remotely and hope that you too feel part of this special day.

You have every reason to be proud of having earned a University of Essex degree

I am delighted that the reputation of the University continues to grow. In June we were awarded the highest rating of ‘Gold’ in the government-led assessment of the quality of our teaching – the Teaching Excellence Framework and we are ranked 11th overall in the UK for teaching excellence. I am equally delighted that in the other government led review of research quality we are ranked 19th in the UK and we are in a select group of 11 ‘dual intensive’ universities excelling in both education and research. And we are delighted to be ranked 30th in the UK in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The University is home to very talented academic staff but just as important is our role in nurturing new talent and we are every bit as proud of you and of your contribution to our community and to our success. Many of the most wonderful achievements of the University over the past year are yours.

graduation1 300x200Together we launched the One Essex’ campaign and student-led events have raised the visibility of the University’s cosmopolitan and inclusive values and championed the benefits of our global community. This year alone you have dedicated more than 24,000 hours of your time to volunteering projects – that’s double the amount of hours spent last year and 741 students working with over 50 local schools, charities, care homes, and refugee centres and directly helping people in our local communities. Your clubs and societies have won amazing awards and prizes, and gained national recognition – from the Enactus Student Society’s project to help poorer young people in Mali to get access to education – to our sports stars, who won nine league titles in volleyball, basketball, badminton, golf, rugby, squash and tennis. And this year, our societies and sports clubs have raised an amazing £41,000 for charitable causes.

Essex is not just about getting a degree it is about getting an education and, as your Vice-Chancellor, I am incredibly proud of what you have learnt, and the impact that you have had, outside the lecture theatre, seminar room and laboratory.

Graduation marks the end of one part of your life and the start of the next

Some of you will already be clear about what you want to do next. Many of you will be starting jobs. Others will be considering postgraduate study, and, if you choose to go onto further study, we are very keen to welcome you back and we have generous alumni scholarships to help you. If you have not yet decided what’s next, we’re here to help. We have 200 opportunities for you – ranging from paid graduate internships to short intensive postgraduate certificate courses, and financial support and guidance packages for those wanting to set up their own business. I particularly want to draw your attention to our paid three month graduate-level internships – so, if you are interested, and want to find out more about some of these opportunities, our Employability and Careers team are here to help you. Talk to them today at their stall outside the Silberrad Centre by the red bus, or over the coming weeks and months. The journey from student to citizen of the world is not always easy but we want you to know that you are not alone and that we are here to support you.

As you graduate, you are joining one of the best clubs in the world … an extended global family of more than 95,000 Essex graduates, with members in nearly every country in the world

It has never been easier to stay in contact with the friends that you have made at Essex. Please also keep in touch with the University, starting today by visiting the alumni team, who will be just outside in Square 5, and collecting your memory box. This is just the start of your lifelong membership of the University of Essex.

I’d like to end by reflecting on our University’s founding vision, and what having received an Essex education means for your life

graduation2 300x200Essex was founded as a University with an equal commitment to excellence in education and research. We have built our University on the idea that students and staff are ‘members’ with a licence to shape what goes on around them – by exploring and questioning; by having the ideas, the freedom, and the courage to challenge the status quo.  We are a University that embraces inclusivity, internationalism, and inter-cultural understanding – a place where all staff and students are accepted for who they are.

The University of Essex is unashamedly a community led by values, a place where we believe in truth, and in doing the right thing – and right now this matters more than ever. I hope that your time here has contributed to your understanding of who you are, of what you can achieve, and what you can change for the better.

Be the vanguard of a movement to make the world a better place, be kind to others, listen to views that are different to your own, disagree agreeably – and as our wonderful Chancellor says – aspire to be everyone’s equal and no one’s superior.

Go out from here; be excited; be brave; be scared; be amazing, be yourselves. And make the world a better place, in whatever way you can.

Thank you.