Professor Edmund Burke: Speech at Fellows Reception, Bangor

It is a delight to welcome the Learned Society of Wales to Bangor University.

As an institution, we are looking forward to celebrating our 140th Anniversary next year. We, along with a number of our older Welsh Universities, and other ‘national’ institutions such as the National Library and Museum, were formed, to represent and reflect a growing sense of nationhood in Wales, at a time when the country had no official national identity.

Since those early days, our universities have contributed greatly to Wales, and to the world. Where would we be without the skills and knowledge of our graduates who have contributed to so many aspects of our daily lives over the last century and a half?

We could also ask, where would we be without the considerable research produced in Wales or by Welsh-born academics? Our universities are no ivory towers, they are embedded in our communities and undertake world-leading research that brings tangible benefit that has an impact on people’s lives… from education to healthcare to living sustainably. Their research informs government policy, feeds into job creation, helps us to solve challenges and prepares us to face the future…

As a small nation, we often hear that we ‘punch above our weight’, 89% of Welsh research was judged to be internationally excellent or world-leading for impact… and our research and innovation is key to increasing our prosperity.

It’s heartening then, and a mark of Wales’ confidence as a modern nation, that we have our own learned society that reflects and celebrates the best of our academic researchers. I’m delighted to see that this meeting welcomes six of the latest Learned Fellows with a connection to Bangor and to the Learned Society of Wales, where they join over 60 other Learned Fellows past and present, who are connected with our institution.

The Learned Society is doing great work in championing our excellent research and progressing the debate about the value of research to Wales. As a maturing organisation, you have become a neutral, credible authoritative and independent voice, speaking up for education learning and research within the civil life of Wales, and I thank you for that and welcome you all to Bangor University.

Professor Edmund Burke, Vice-Chancellor, Bangor University, 29 November 2023