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Press release

  • 18 July 2006

Summer graduation celebrations for University of Sussex students

More than 2,000 students, together with their families and friends, will be attending the University of Sussex graduation ceremonies this week at The Dome, Brighton.

The degrees, diplomas and certificates will be conferred by the University's Chancellor, Lord Attenborough at the four ceremonies, which start at 10.00am and 3.30pm on July 20 and 21.

Among the graduands will be England cricketer Rosalie Birch, who receives a BA in linguistics and English language, and award-winning ethical inventor Joshua Seal, who studied engineering design.

Those receiving honorary degrees this year are:

  • Donald Winch, Doctor of Letter, who is Emeritus Professor of Intellectual History in the University's School of Humanities. He is chiefly known for his work on the history of political economy from its origins in the eighteenth century to its modern manifestations in the twentieth.
  • Julian Le Grand, Doctor of Letters, who is the Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics(LSE). He is widely recognised for his distinguished contribution to the academic study and practice of public policy, health systems and social exclusion.
  • Calestous Juma, Doctor of Science, who is a Professor and Director of the Science, Technology and Globalization Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He is a former Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and an internationally-recognised authority on sustainable development.
  • Aaron Sloman, Doctor of Science, who is now widely recognised as among the forefront of those exploring the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI) and philosophy. |He was born and raised in Southern Rhodesia and attended university in Cape Town, South Africa,before obtaining a Rhodes Scholarship to study mathematics at Oxford and subsequently a DPhil in philosophy.

The University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Alasdair Smith said: "Graduation day is an opportunity for our students to celebrate their achievements and reflect on their time at Sussex. It also allows them to express their thanks to those family and friends who supported them throughout their studies."


Kim couldn't have passed her BA without the support of her children

There were times when Kim Dack never thought she would be able complete her BA in English education studies.

Divorce, the death of her mother, moving house, working and looking after three children - twins Richard and Becky, aged 12, and 15-year-old Chelsea - were among the major challenges she faced during the three-year University of Sussex course.

But, as she looks forward to receiving her degree certificate at the university's graduation ceremonies this week, she is thankful that she didn't give up.

"It was hard work, not just the studying, but coping with the unexpected things in life," says Kim, 49, who lives in Eastbourne. "For a while I was living with my parents and the three children in a tiny house. I couldn't start using the computer until 10pm at night and regularly did my studying until 1am.

"My children were great. They had to make lots of sacrifices - especially giving up time with me. But they were so supportive and really wanted me to get the degree."

The qualification now means that Kim, who has been working as a specialist teaching assistant for children with hearing difficulties, can go on to train as a teacher in English and drama."

"I feel that it has all been worth it," she adds. "I can now progress in my career, teaching a subject that I really love."

Sean aspires to academic career after recieving first alumni bursary

Sean Carroll, who graduates on Thursday (July 20) with a BA in English and media studies, was the first recipient of a special "alumni scholarship" by the University of Sussex to encourage students from non-university backgrounds into higher education.

The experience for Sean has been so positive that he now hopes to take an MA at Sussex and continue into teaching and research in higher education.

Sean, 21, who lives in Brighton and attended Longhill School in Rottingdean, says: "I hadn't thought of university at all when I was at school until one of my tutors suggested it. My A-level grades were quite good - I got two As and a B - and I applied for the bursary."

His scholarship of £1,500 per year for his three-year course came from the Sussex Fund, which is supported by donations from alumni, current and former staff and friends of the university.

"I probably couldn't have completed the degree course without the scholarship," says Sean. "I took out the maximum Government loan, and I worked as a waiter during my studies. The scholarship money meant that I could actually enjoy being a student and getting involved with things without constantly worrying about money."

Howzat! Rosalie scored with linguistics degree

Rosalie Birch combined studying full-time for a degree in linguistics and English language at the University of Sussex while playing cricket for England.

The 22-year-old, who graduates at the Dome in Brighton on Thursday (July 20), played in the women's cricket World Cup in South Africa last April, toured India last autumn and was expected to keep up training and practice whenever she was back on home turf. She also returned to India in March to make a programme for Sport Relief

"I couldn't have done it without being very organised and having understanding tutors," says Rosalie, who received a University of Sussex sports bursary to help finance her three-year degree. "I still had to do the work, but I was given some flexibility with deadlines.

"I took work with me on tours, which was a good thing. I was able to study in my hotel room. In the end, my education is more important because I'm unlikely to make money out of cricket."

Rosalie, who lives in Lewes, is looking forward to touring Australia later this year to play club cricket. She will then be going to India with the England team to compete in the Quadrangular World Series between England, New Zealand, Australia and India in February, 2007.

She is also considering her next career move. "I might take a masters degree in speech and language therapy," she says. "But I've also really enjoyed having some broadcast experience with Sky Sports as a presenter and making the BBC programme for Sport Relief."

It all adds up for Jonathan

Although he spent his career working with numbers, retired bank manager Jonathan Franklin always regretted not having an academic qualification in maths.

This week he is celebrating his special achievement of gaining a first-class degree in mathematics at the University of Sussex.

Jonathan, 55, who lives in Ringmer, says: "I worked for Lloyds TSB until taking early retirement four years ago. I did a lot of statistical analysis for my job and I always enjoyed working with numbers. It was my regret that I didn't have an A-level in maths."

He began to fulfil his ambition with an A-level course at South Downs College in Lewes, and went on to apply for the degree programme at Sussex.

"What I really enjoyed at Sussex was spending time with younger people from all over the world. On my course there were people from Sudan, Malaysia, Russia, Bulgaria. Although I have no plans to go back to a career, I'm quite keen on the idea of doing some maths tutoring in schools."

Jonathan, who has two children, Matthew, 21 and Rachel, 22, and will be attending the University's graduation ceremony on Friday (July 21) with his wife, Anne.

Annie's award-winning work will help children's attitudes to disability

Outstanding psychology student Annie Goddard has produced an award-winning study on how to improve children's attitudes to those with disabilities.

Annie, who will be receiving her first-class BSc at the University of Sussex graduation ceremony on Friday (July 21), used her background of working with disabled children as the basis of her final-year project.

Annie, 22, says: "My aim was to improve children's attitudes towards their peers with disabilities by reading them stories about a non-disabled child in a friendship with a disabled child. I found that my positive intervention did make a difference."

She looked at two different age groups and found that five-year-olds were more prejudiced compared with 10-year-olds, particularly towards children with "visual" disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, rather than hidden disabilities, such as autism.

Annie, who won the British Psychological Society Wessex Branch Dissertation Prize for her project, adds: "These findings have implications for how to develop more positive, inclusive environments, such as in schools, and how to educate children about people with disabilities. This is a highly topical area with the recent inclusion laws being a controversial issue."

For the immediate future, Annie, whose home town is Oxford, will be putting her experience to good practice as a programme specialist at a school in London for children with autism. "I may do a clinical psychology course in the future - or a postgraduate teaching course," she adds. "I'm keeping my options open for a bit."

Her tutor Rupert Brown says; "Annie's outstanding research project shows how, even at an undergraduate level, psychology can make a real contribution to the understanding and solution of social problems."

Joshua's idea makes a difference

Joshua Seal, who receives a MEng at the University of Sussex graduation ceremony on Friday (July 21), is an award-winning ethical inventor,

While studying for a degree in robotics, cybernetics and process automation, 22-year-old Joshua invented a device that can dramatically reduce the power consumption of electrical devices left on standby - and help reduce greenhouse gases.

His idea, now being developed for businesses, won him first prize and a total of £6,000 in the Make A Difference ideas competition, sponsored by SEEDA (the South East of England Development Agency) in June.

He says; "Electrical devices can waste huge amounts of energy if they are not switched off. For example, leaving televisions on standby wastes £88 million a year in the UK and produces 480,000 tonnes of CO2. My device could save the country millions and drastically cut carbon emissions."

Joshua, who is dyslexic, has also been given a place on a highly-competitive fellowship scheme run by the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurs. The three-month fellowship, which involves business placements, will enable him to learn more about how to make ideas commercially viable.

Joshua says: "I want to set up my own company to develop and research pro-social technology. My degree at Sussex gave me a brilliant grounding in developing ideas and in understanding how to go from an idea to a final product."

Postscript: Joshua has now set up Social Concepts Ltd

Notes for editors

For press information, contact Jacqui Bealing at the University of Sussex Press Office. Tel 01273 678 888 or email at


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