Hartpury University recognised the outstanding achievements of almost 400 students who graduated from a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees during its annual graduation ceremonies on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 November 2023. The university also awarded three honorary degrees to individuals who had made a significant contribution to their respective industry or community.
Teaching and support staff joined students, their families, and friends for two glorious days of celebration at Gloucester Cathedral, just weeks after Hartpury University became the only institution in the county to be awarded Gold in all three areas of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
Dr Anne McBride was awarded an honorary degree for her outstanding work within the field of companion animal behaviour. Anne’s passion for understanding why individuals, of any species including humans, do what they do has been at the heart of her career. Her aim has always been to improve human-animal interactions and thereby improve animal welfare, human wellbeing, and that of the environment.
Anne’s passion for more accessible education is evident in her writing and teaching of both theory and practice to various professional and lay audiences, children and adults. Anne has been an active supporter of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council since its inception in 2010. She strongly advocates for standards of knowledge and skills for training and behaviour professionals as the only long-term route to improving welfare for all animals in all contexts.
Mel Nicholls was awarded an honorary degree for her significant contribution to the areas of athletics and sports science. Mel’s story is one of resilience and determination, having been left unable to walk or use much of the left side of her body following a series of life-changing strokes in 2008. Formerly a keen equestrian, runner, cyclist and all-around adrenaline junkie, she was determined to bounce back.
She did just that, taking up wheelchair racing and competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games - just 15 months after taking up the sport. She went on as part of the GB Athletics team to represent her country for the next four years, achieving track world records, European and World major medal success.
Lyn Dance was awarded an honorary degree in recognition for her outstanding contribution to education and specifically special education. Having worked in the sector for nearly 40 years as a teacher, deputy and head teacher in special schools in Surrey, Hounslow and Gloucestershire, she is now CEO of the SAND Academies Trust, an influential group of special schools. Lyn has been influential in helping to create strong leadership in education and is part of several collaborative working groups that all share her values and drive. In October 2020 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her work.
The graduation ceremony saw the first cohort of Hartpury graduates from all streams of the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing including the first and only graduates nationwide from the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Equine Veterinary Nursing.
The event also saw the first students graduate from the FdSc Horseracing Industry degree, delivered in partnership with the British Racing School.
Professor Andy Collop led his second Hartpury graduation ceremony since taking up the post of Vice-Chancellor, CEO and Principal in 2022, and paid tribute to the students and honorary degree recipients.
He said: “It’s always a great privilege to lead a graduation ceremony and I want to thank everyone who worked hard to create such a special day for our graduates and their family and friends. Gloucester Cathedral is the most spectacular setting for the occasion and both days were a hugely joyous occasion.
“Ceremonies like these not only provide an opportunity to celebrate the many successes and accomplishments of our students, but also to mark the handing over of the baton to our graduates as they move into their respective industries. It’s a recognition that they’re equipped with the knowledge and skills to shape their career paths while addressing the challenges we face in our various specialist industries. We look forward with optimism to see the impact our class of 2023 will make.
“I’d like to also pay tribute to this year’s honorary degree recipients whose individual journeys and impact on their respective industries and communities should act as inspiration to us all.”
Ralph the dog, a favourite among staff and students on campus, also attended the ceremony. A total of 43 additional prizes and awards were given out during the ceremonies.
An outstanding year for Hartpury
In September, Hartpury University marked its 5th anniversary. In addition to triple Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework, the university was ranked 6th in the UK and 1st in the South West for Teaching Quality, according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024. Hartpury was also ranked 2nd in the UK for Student Support and 4th in the UK for Teaching Excellence (1st in the South West in both categories), according to the first-ever interactive Daily Mail University Guide.
In August, Hartpury University was named as the number one university in England in the ‘Academic Support’ category, according to results from the National Student Survey (NSS) 2023.
This year’s graduates can have confidence in their employability prospects moving forward, given Hartpury’s strong graduate employability figures each year. 97% Hartpury University graduates are in employment, further study or other purposeful activity, placing the Gloucestershire institution first in the South West and in the top 10% of UK universities for graduate employability (Graduate Outcomes 2023, reflects graduates from 2021).