Monday, 13 June 2011

Chris Bonnington and Helen Skelton back local Uni's special Week

Helen Skelton is backing the University of
Cumbria's part in Universities Week
Monday 13th to Sunday 19th June is national Universities Week, celebrating the ways in which universities and higher education can benefit everybody.

It's also hoped the Week will serve to highlight the range of economic and research roles which the country's higher education sector currently plays.

The University of Cumbria is supporting the Week and has already opened its doors to more than 620 people in Carlisle, Lancaster and Newton Rigg, as part of the Open Day on Saturday 11th June.

The Open Day gave prospective September 2012 students and their guests the opportunity to look around the campus, visit and chat with course leaders and lecturers, seek advice on admissions and funding, and get a feel for life at university after looking at accommodation and meeting student ambassadors.

Universities Week 2011 follows a successful pilot in 2010, which saw 110 universities, 30 major organisations and 35 celebrities taking part in showcasing the work of the higher education sector, offering a variety of local, regional and national activities designed to demonstrate the extraordinary, life-changing work of universities.

This year’s week looks to be an even bigger success with a series of high profile celebrities, such as Patrick Stewart, Philip Treacy and Professor Brian Cox, helping to highlight the benefit of higher education.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, which is co-ordinating the Week, said: “In the media maelstrom which currently surrounds higher education funding, it’s easy to lose sight of the huge social, economic and cultural impact of universities.

“The idea behind this campaign is to tell some of the amazing and inspiring stories of why universities matter to the UK, and how they benefit everyone in the country. We were absolutely delighted with the positive response to the Universities Week pilot last year. We are looking to build on that success and urge universities and wider organisations to get involved with the campaign this year, to make it even bigger and better.”

Universities Week 2011 will focus on five key themes including the value universities bring to their communities, the value they bring to local businesses and how the research currently underway will benefit UK society in 20 years’ time.

The University of Cumbria already has some celebrity supporters who champion the work carried out in Cumbria and beyond, including Mountaineer and Honorary Fellow Sir Chris Bonington and former student and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton.

"There has never been a more challenging time to begin a university education, yet the opportunity it provides can open doors for a lifetime of achievement," feels Chris. "Reaching the highest point on earth requires teamwork, self-motivation and confidence, together with leadership and communication skills. The university provides support to undertake the degree programmes that will start to develop in [students] these practical skills and the academic knowledge that a leader needs. I am delighted to observe the nurturing of young talent of the future, and I hope that they can be equipped with the skills needed to climb their own Everest, whatever the scale of their aspirations.

"The creative industries are hugely important to the UK," argues Helen Skelton, "not just for economic health but for our overall sense of wellbeing and their importance is growing.   The University of Cumbria prepares its students for life as well as work and its strong links with industry are key to ensuring that creative graduates are provided with the right managerial and leadership skills to transform them into creative entrepreneurs. 

"As a graduate of Cumbria Institute of the Arts (a legacy institution of the University of Cumbria) the main thing for me was the practical nature of my course and support from people who were still working within the industry which helped give me a realistic appreciation of working life that made moving from full-time studies into employment possible."

Johnny Rich, editor of the independent university guide, noted that the week will emphasise the positive impact of higher education on society as a whole when it launches later in the month.

"If it were not for universities, we would not have the entrepreneurial inventiveness of the country," he feels, "we wouldn't have the research, we wouldn't have the highly qualified workforce."

• For more information about Universities Week, visit: or follow the campaign on Facebook at

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