Speaker vows to champion higher education in new role as university ChancellorAug 04, 2014
John Bercow, MP for Buckingham and Speaker of the House of Commons, took up his post as Chancellor on Friday. He described going to university as “more transformative than even a lottery win”.
Giving his inaugural address after being installed as Chancellor, Mr Bercow (pictured) said that higher education was a “bridge from one route in life to another quite different one” and explained that his passion for widening access to education was one of the key reasons why he accepted the role as Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.
“Greater access to higher education is both a representation of, and a vehicle for, social mobility. I am determined to champion it at every turn and, in particular, it is why I am so dedicated personally to championing this university,” Mr Bercow said.
Speaking to graduating students, academics and local civic dignitaries, Mr Bercow said that the importance of internationalism was something that especially impressed him when he looked more deeply at the University of Bedfordshire.
“Concepts are not the subject of border controls and discoveries require no passport,” Mr Bercow said.
“The academic leadership of this university have been pioneers in international outreach and I could not commend them more sincerely for their endeavours. It is what makes this place so special.”
Mr Bercow has been Speaker since 2009. As Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, he will “stand up for intellectual curiosity in its own right,” he said.
Suggesting that the university experience should not be “reduced to a crude cost-benefit analysis”, Mr Bercow said that a degree course is worth much more than a monetary statistic.
“What price can we place on the stimulation of intellectual thinking?" he asked. "What value should we put on social and cultural strengthening? How can we measure the friendships and contacts made here, many of which will last a lifetime?
Welcoming Mr Bercow, the university’s Vice Chancellor and chief executive Bill Rammell said: “He shares the university’s commitment and mission to open up quality higher education to all who can benefit – so that together we can transform the lives of students, communities and countries.”