2017 was a historic year for our University. A year in which we widened and deepened access to higher education for those from challenging backgrounds, including those with experience of being in care, at home and overseas. Overseas we did this especially through our partnerships in Africa. In total, we graduated nearly 5,000 students globally and at home, 97% of our graduates were in employment or further study within six months of leaving us.
As the top modern University in Scotland for research power, we increased our research grant funding in our key areas of excellence including our research on health, climate justice and the environment and, importantly, we used the United Nations Sustainable Development goals as the framework for our new Research Strategy.
Of course, we became the first University in the world to receive a charter to award degrees in New York City, taking our experience in education and research in Fair Fashion and Fair Finance into the heart of the commercial capital of the world.
We also said, not goodbye, but au revoir, to our Nobel prize winning Chancellor, Professor Yunus who completed his five-year term with us, but who wishes to remain a lifelong friend by becoming our Emeritus Chancellor.
And we welcomed our new Chancellor Dr Annie Lennox OBE who delivered such a passionate and powerful message at Davos’ World Economic Forum in January this year about the need for women’s voices to be heard and acted upon in all our societies. At GCU we feel it’s important for our women’s voices to be heard and last year we passed a milestone by achieving 40% of female professors in the University community, one of the highest proportions in the UK, and we embraced transparency in our gender pay gap which, although one of the smallest in the sector, we are still determined to reduce year on year.
As I reflect on 2017 on the anniversary of the day women first received the vote in the United Kingdom, I am proud of the many and varied achievements of all of our staff and students and of the ways in which all the women and men of our University community have actively delivered benefit to the many communities we serve at home and overseas.