Our Stories: Professor Julie Lydon OBE, Vice Chancellor

Professor Julie Lydon You never quite know what opportunities may arise or what the future holds. In reflecting on my career to date there have been a number of defining moments, though I didn’t know they were at the time!

When I started work in HE, I offered to host some Dutch visitors. I did this partly because my family always enjoy meeting new people and also to get myself more integrated into my department. The visit was to explore if we could establish a partnership with Dutch, and later also Finnish, partners.

This hosting did bring me to the attention of my colleagues and managers who then asked me to be the course leader designate for the development. So within three months of starting as an SL I had the responsibility of designing, in collaboration with colleagues across the partnership, a new course including securing EU funding and recruiting students. It was a very steep learning curve … I vividly remember the mock validation event where I was trying to be very confident with our European partners, for whom the event was completely alien, when in fact it was the very first time I had been involved with such an activity. We went from initial discussions in October to recruiting the first cohort in the following September (initially 24 students in each location)

The course was approved; it went on to be one the largest single exchange programmes in UK HE with an intake of over 150 students across the partnership and an overall student population exceeding 550. We established a business led advisory panel (which was not common practice in the UK) drawn from employers across Western Europe. It enabled my school to increase its overall tariff entry standards as demand for this course was very high; student performance and employment was also good. I remain very proud of this achievement with good memories of the collaborative working and of being course leader and the Deputy Dean who called out the names for our first graduating cohort successfully completing their four year degree.

The outcome was that less than two years after joining the university I had established myself as a very successful course leader, with promotion to PL and the course won the Cable and Wireless Award for International Education. It set the track for my career in HE.