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Professor Roger Brown tells graduates they are "the lifeblood of society"

Roger Brown Friday 24 July 2015

At the final graduation ceremony of 2015, honorary degree recipient Professor Roger Brown argued for the importance of diversity in education and told Liverpool Hope graduates that they and universities are “the lifeblood of society.”

Professor Brown is an international authority on the application of market-based policies to higher education, and was recognised for his services to Higher Education.

He praised Liverpool Hope for its “holistic” approach to education and for providing “a rich and full curriculum for its students.”

Commenting on the scrapping of maintenance grants for university students from low-income families he said: “British higher education is a success story, and you graduates are a part of that success. The past twenty-five years have seen a huge expansion of the sector. Not only an expansion in student numbers but also in the courses and opportunities available and in the number of institutions offering them.

"One of the particular successes – and one of the main sources of diversity – has been a steady increase in the number and proportion of students from families with no previous experience of higher education. Many of you will be from such backgrounds. But I am concerned that this will continue. The Government’s announcement this week of its decision to replace maintenance grants with loans is a clear backward step. It cannot be right that poorer students should emerge from university with a higher level of debt than wealthier ones. It is vitally important that policy makers do not lose sight of the need for higher education to continue to reflect, and promote, the diversity of our society."

He then recounted a story about a Philosophy professor who came into a classroom with a jar which he filled with rocks. He asked his students if it was full, to which they replied in the affirmative. The professor then proceeded to fill in the gaps with pebbles, and the students again declared that the jar was full. He then filled in the rest of the jar with sand and asked the students whether it was now full, to which they again replied yes. The professor told the students to think of the jar as their life, the rocks as representing their family and friends, the pebbles as representing their house, car or job, and the sand as everything else that happens day to day in life.

Professor Brown concluded that we should all “focus on the rocks, the rest is just pebbles and sand.”     


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