A festive message from the Interim Vice-Chancellor and President

An email sent to all colleagues from the Interim Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Hai-Sui Yu on Tuesday 19 December.

Interim Vice Chancellor Hai Sui in graduation gown

Dear colleagues,

It has been a true pleasure to see our campus busy with more than 4,500 graduands and their loved ones celebrating their graduation at our winter ceremonies this week and last. The sight of so many gowns and smiles amid the festive decorations and the campus Christmas trees provided a memorable backdrop for our last week of term. I was honoured, as ever, to preside over several ceremonies and the joyful reaction of our students always reminds me of the part all of us at the University play in supporting them from their first day on campus through to their graduation day – and beyond. 

I was also extremely proud to celebrate a particular group of staff who have made an enormous contribution to our institution over many years of dedicated service. The University’s Long Service Awards resumed last Monday following their hiatus during the pandemic, and it was a privilege to join colleagues at what was our 50th ceremony to recognise the achievements of some of the staff who have worked at the University for 25 or 40 years. Award recipients from 2021, 2022 and 2023 enjoyed a celebratory lunch at University House and received their awards during a graduation ceremony in the Great Hall that afternoon.

Beyond the University, I am sure there was some relief (although possibly little surprise) at the announcement that the next Research Excellence Framework exercise will be delayed to 2029. This is a welcome move which will allow more time to fulfil the complexities and effort required for our submission.  

There was more challenging news last week with the government’s latest announcements on immigration policy. Whilst much of the detail is yet to come, I do want to assure colleagues who may be worried by aspects of the proposals that the University shares their concerns. We will scrutinise the detail of the proposed changes as it emerges and provide clear and timely information for our international staff and students as soon as it is available. 

On the global stage, it was something of a relief to see that the negotiations at COP28 were eventually able to secure a deal that at least commits all countries to move away from the use of fossil fuels – although not yet to fully phase them out. In our own smaller but powerful way, some of the University’s contributions to tackling climate changes were recognised in the latest annual People and Planet university league table for 2023/24. We achieved a “2:1” classification, moving up ten places from last year to be ranked 39th overall. Of course, there is much work to do in reducing our carbon emissions and delivering against our Climate Plan, but this progress shows we are on the right track to overcome the sustainability challenges we face. 

It is just a few short days until our campus will be closed for the winter break, from this Friday until Tuesday 2 January. I know some students will remain in Leeds and that dedicated staff will be working to support them as well as keeping our University ticking over and secure during the break. I offer my particular gratitude for their crucial work over this period, and trust that they will nevertheless be able to spend time with their families. 

However you choose to mark this time of year, I wish you a peaceful and relaxing break with family, friends and loved ones. I thank you all for your hard work, support, and conversations over this term – and look forward to returning in the new calendar year refreshed and ready to continue together our important work at this incredible University.

Best wishes,


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