“So, a university is a place where you will receive an excellent academic education, equip yourself with some of the necessary social skills for life and, for some of you, start a major technical professional development. But somehow I feel as if I haven’t caught the essence of the experience. Throughout your life you are going to be focused on working, the bottom line, profit and loss, meeting targets, outcomes, performance indicators, etc., etc. – a university education is a unique opportunity to learn and develop in a secure environment for three very important years of your life before you start all of that. Perhaps, in the end, it is the multiple informal conversations and discussions with your peers and your academics which are the quintessence of the experience. We joke about students “setting the world to rights” until three-oclock in the morning, but these are defining discussions which help you build the moral and philosophical structures around which you will centre your life.
Although we now embrace lifelong learning, no experience matches that of a residentialthree or four years at a good university – it will change and define you in so many ways that it does, literally, give you the opportunity of a lifetime. Please think about seizing it with both hands.”
– Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, to a meeting of The Bristol Society in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building on 25 September 2002