Belfast Telegraph

Despite the drama of cuts, a worthy ‘understudy’ praises University of Ulster’s great work

By Lindsay Fergus

University of Ulster Chancellor James Nesbitt will miss this year’s graduation ceremonies due to filming commitments in New Zealand.

Although the Broughshane actor had been due to attend the annual graduations to present degrees, filming of Tolkien’s The Hobbit has been delayed.

>> Click here for full list of University of Ulster graduations July 3 2012

The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett told graduates at Coleraine today: “I’m all too well aware of the excitement that there is amongst the graduating class when they see that they have the Chancellor present to award their degrees. And I’m not that insensitive to be aware of the disappointment that there is when they see that they’ve got me instead.

“For the past year or so our Chancellor James Nesbitt has been filming in New Zealand. He is playing the part of a dwarf in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

“The film will be released this Christmas and filming was due to end last month and the Chancellor was looking forward to presiding at all this year’s graduation ceremonies.

“But filming has been delayed. He is keen for me — as a poor understudy — to pass on his congratulations and best wishes to the graduating class of 2012.” Professor Barnett, the head of the university, described the past year as a “challenging one” due to some £10m cuts in government funding. He said: “So the past year has been challenging. But a time of challenge is no time to sit back and despair. Instead a time of challenge is a time to focus on what it is that we want to achieve and to move ahead with determination.

“This university was born out of difference. We are not, and have never been, an orthodox or traditional university, and do not seek to be. Instead at the University of Ulster we have had the courage to chart our own distinct course.

“We’ve been at our weakest on those fortunately rare occasions when we’ve sought to conform. And we’re always at our strongest and best when we emphasise and promote our distinctiveness.”

Highlights for the university this year included the opening of the Confucius Institute at the university.

Confucius Institute status is awarded by the Chinese Government and they provide funding for the teaching of Chinese and promotion of business development opportunities.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph