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New Queen's University Belfast chief says university life is tougher than ever

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

University has never been tougher – but Queen's new president and vice-chancellor is hoping to tackle some of the big issues facing students during his six-year tenure.

Speaking on the first day in his new role, Professor Patrick Johnston from Londonderry told the Belfast Telegraph being a student now is a lot more difficult than when he was studying.

"I think it is tougher," he said.

"I think university life can be much more demanding now and I think it is also tougher for students to stand out.

"So, at the same time, I think the university is gearing itself up now in a way that 20/30 years ago it didn't do in terms of student support, in terms of student mentoring and teaching them life skills, and I think we have to further enhance that."

Professor Johnston was Queen's Dean of Medicine for the last six-and-a-half years and will now be leading the whole institution as president and vice-chancellor.

He is the twelfth vice-chancellor in the University's 168-year history and the first born in Northern Ireland.

"It's special, when you come from Northern Ireland, when you come from Derry, and I lived abroad for a long time, but I've been back now 17 years," he said.

"It's a real privilege to be taking up the role."

Professor Johnston explained his priorities include enhancing the whole student experience, improving the quality of Queen's education programmes, partnering with industry and ensuring students understand citizenship and leadership.

"It's not just about education around a particular subject, but preparing somebody to be a responsible citizen with the potential for leadership in society," he said. "On the research front I want to develop a number of areas of really world-class research."

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