About Professor Simon Haslett

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Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Professor of Physical Geography and Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Speech delivered by Professor Simon Haslett at the 'Study in Wales' reception on Wednesday 3rd February 2016 at the residence of the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Washington DC, USA.

Noswaith dda, diolch I chi am y croeso.

Good evening, and thank you for your welcome.

I am delighted to welcome you on behalf of the Welsh universities and to also thank the Welsh Government and British Embassy for hosting this reception, and also to thank the GREAT Britain campaign for their support of Study in Wales through the GREAT UK Challenge Fund.

Spanning the length of the country, Welsh universities offer a diverse range of locations and learning experiences – from world-class cities to breath-taking coastal locations. As part of the world-renowned UK higher education system, Welsh universities offer quality higher education qualifications that are respected by employers and academics worldwide. 92% of graduates from Welsh universities find employment within the first six months of leaving one of our universities.

Wales, the learning nation, has a long and distinguished heritage in higher education from the oldest Royal Chartered higher education institution in England and Wales after Oxford and Cambridge, to new universities only established within the past few years.

Wales, the learning nation, offers many advantages:
Wales is part of the UK’s world class higher education system, and offers a distinct experience with a diverse range of universities.
Wales offers a safe and welcoming university community, with a supportive and highly rated student experience.
Wales offers internationally recognised research, excellent learning and teaching, complemented with high class facilities.
Wales offers an affordable and more cost effective standard of living that enables students to experience a more varied lifestyle, and become immersed in the culture and landscape of our country.
And Wales’ universities are situated within easy reach of the UK’s main transport hubs, in a country that boasts outstanding natural beauty and heritage.

Wales is also justly proud of its high proportion of ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ research, which makes our universities such exciting and dynamic places to study. We know that the HE sector in Wales is part of a world-leading UK science base which is second only to the US for its share of global citations. But, did you know that no other country’s HE system has shown the ability to deliver more for its level of investment in research and development over the past 10 years? Or that the overall quality and international standing of Welsh research has increased at a faster rate than the rest of the UK?

The results of the recent Research Excellence Framework exercise in the UK has cemented Wales’ position as a leading academic destination for world class research. But what does this mean for the people of Wales? Well, the results showed that Welsh universities have the highest percentage of ‘world leading’ research in terms of its impact of any part of the UK, with almost half of it considered to be having a transformational effect on all walks of life beyond academia.

Higher education in Wales offers opportunities to individuals to fulfil their potential and maximise their earnings that not only allows them to benefit personally but also to contribute effectively to society and the communities within which they live. This personal transformation is crucial on many levels and universities in Wales are fundamental in this positive force for change. Challenging paradigms by exposing students to different cultures, belief systems and ways of thinking, is how we nurture and encourage the leaders of tomorrow. 

That is why we as a Welsh higher education sector value our international partners and none more so than our friends in the US. We take great pride in the achievements of our alumni, a number of who are here this evening, and encourage student exchange with partner institutions, some of who are also here this evening, and seize the opportunity whenever we can to learn from one another and to collaborate on ground-breaking research projects.

Students who study in Wales become ambassadors for Wales, the learning nation, building relationships and taking Wales with them across the World.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the Study in Wales brochures that are on display and to highlight that the Study in Wales website contains more detailed information about all of the Welsh universities.

It’s a real pleasure being with you here in Washington this evening.

Mae’n bleser bod gyda chi yma yn Washington.

I would now like to introduce the next speaker, Paul Smith, Director of the British Council in the US.

Thank you very much!

Diolch yn fawr!