VC unveils vision for the university and impact on the region at celebration day
11 July 2016
Wrexham Glyndwr University is making its mark at “the centre of today’s world” and will play a major role in developing the industrial and academic potential of north east Wales.
Speaking at her official installation as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Maria Hinfelaar revealed her “pen is poised” ready for the next chapter in her successful career, having guided Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) to become one of the top technological institutions in Ireland.
The Dutch native had previously made an impact as head of Business English atZadkine College, Rotterdam, and later at Leeuwarden’s Stenden University, before travelling to the Emerald Isle to take on the role.
At each location she not only helped to improve the academic surroundings but was critical in supporting wider social and financial prosperity in regions that had previously been struck down by poverty and lack of investment, or “unfashionable” and fragmented in the shadows of larger cities, as was the case in Rotterdam.
Using the ‘triple helix’ methodology – academia, industry and government working in unison – these areas are now booming, and Professor Hinfelaar says while Wrexham is already a county rich and diverse in talent and skill, bringing these three drivers closer together will ultimately power north east Wales on to new heights, with the University at the centre.
“Research suggests that the components of the triple helix can underpin the transition from a traditional industrial economy to a knowledge economy and finally to what is known as an ‘innovation economy’,” she said.
“It is important to note that such mutual collaborative relationships, innovations and linkages are an outcome of their interactions rather than being prescribed by government. It is the job of public policymakers to create the right environment and incentives.”
Professor Hinfelaar added: “It is by no means an abstract concept – it takes sheer hard leg work. As we showed in Limerick, education and R&D can truly transform lives in the community.
“If my experience is anything to go by, much can be achieved here in Wrexham through consciously working along the principles of the model: synchronise the agendas of educators, civic and political leaders and industry and actually make them come together for the benefit of all.”
The message was reinforced by strong showings in the Social Mobility Index - where the University is number one in Wales and fifth in the UK for supporting people from non-traditional backgrounds into a higher education – and the Destination of Leavers Survey (14/15) which was released this week and showed Wrexham Glyndwr is number one in North Wales for employability (92.1%) and above the sector average in terms of graduate level employment.
Professor Hinfelaar welcomed the news, and following her formal investiture at the University’s Catrin Finch Centre, is ready for the challenge ahead.
“At Wrexham Glyndŵr University we see ourselves very much not on the periphery at the end of an imaginary world, but at the centre of today’s world,” she said.
“As the university of and for north east Wales we will be a key driver for regional development – if we blossom, the region blossoms and vice versa.
“We are an ambitious, young university; we have talent and opportunities in abundance to work with the region and internationally. And as I have discovered, we have very many friends.
“My chapter in Wrexham has not been written yet, and my pen is poised.”