Sussex celebrates postgrads’ success at winter graduation

More than 1,800 degrees and diplomas – mainly Masters and PhDs – will be awarded at the University of Sussex’s winter graduation ceremonies this week.

The four ceremonies, on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 January, will largely celebrate the achievements of the University’s growing postgraduate population.

The University’s Chancellor, the actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, will lead the ceremonies and confer the degrees at the Brighton Dome.

Sussex has bucked a nationwide decline in the number of people studying for postgraduate degrees by introducing a range of sector-leading scholarships. These include the Sussex Graduate Scholarships for Sussex students who get a 1st or 2:1 in their undergraduate degree and are accepted onto a Masters. In its first year, this doubled the number of such students progressing directly onto a Masters degree at Sussex.

The University also created the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship – for top students joining from other universities – and a host of international scholarships.

Around a quarter of those picking up a Masters this week received one of these scholarships – our highest-ever proportion.

Recognising the importance to the UK of a strong postgraduate sector, the government is making it easier to study at Masters level by introducing student loans of up to £10,000 from this autumn.

With graduands representing more than 100 countries and the ceremonies streamed live to their friends and families around the world, the event this week is set to be a truly global affair.

Many of those graduating are already making an impact in their chosen field, in the UK or abroad, including:

  • Narciso Mahumana (Global Studies), who came to Sussex from Mozambique to study for a PhD in indigenous healing and has since returned to home to set up a university for local development
  • George Lengyel (EngInf), an MSc student who has designed a popular, location-based social networking app being used by local businesses
  • Connor Scott (EngInf), an MSc student who won a bursary from Sussex to work on a software idea and is now working in Silicon Valley as a software engineer for Amex
  • Wesley Goatley (MFM), who co-created an exhibition about the hidden infrastructure of ships, planes and trains during Brighton Digital Festival. He is now a doctoral student in Sussex Humanities Lab
  • Dorothy Glover (ESW), who is already using her PhD to co-ordinate a project, funded by the World Bank, to improve secondary education in her native Ghana
  • Jennifer Wathan (Psychology), whose PhD research showing horses share similar facial expressions to humans and chimps has gained worldwide media attention
  • Hani Al-Nabulsi, who worked on crowd management at the Hajj in Mecca. After witnessing a crush that killed 346 pilgrims, he came to Sussex to research crowd psychology under expert Dr John Drury
  • Amelia Roberts, a primary school teacher who was shortlisted in a young people’s creative writing competition and coached two of her pupils to become finalists in the 8-10 year old bracket of the same competition.

Professor Michael Farthing, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Gaining a postgraduate degree is a tremendous achievement in itself, especially as so many of those graduating have had to juggle jobs, childcare, and other responsibilities alongside their studies.

“But it’s also a passport to many other great things and, most importantly for me, sends our students back out into the world as well-rounded, global citizens. I wish them all the best for the future.”

The University’s international outlook will also be reflected in the awarding of honorary degrees to four remarkable individuals who epitomise these values of global citizenship.

The University has awarded honorary degrees for six decades as a way to recognise extraordinary achievements beyond the world of education, and to inspire graduating students as they embark on the next stage of their lives. A selection of these - including musician Sir Paul McCartney, civil liberties champion Shami Chakrabarti, and humanitarian Terry Waite - will feature in a special exhibition at the Dome during the graduation ceremonies.

By: James Hakner
Last updated: Monday, 18 January 2016