WDC Autumn Buffet Supper - 22 November 2012

The future of UCL

David Price

The UCL Women Dining Cub’s autumn buffet on 22 November 2012 was preceded by a very interesting visit to the Wellcome Collection in Euston Road, where a guide took members and their guests round the Life and Death themed exhibition. She also gave us a short introduction to the fascinating winter exhibition which contains a collection devoted to the iconography of death assembled by Richard Harris of Chicago.

Professor David Price was the speaker after the buffet which was held in the Terrace Restaurant. As UCL’s Vice Provost (Research) he is responsible for the college’s research performance and for implementing four ‘Grand Challenges’. David, who came to UCL from Cambridge in 1983, later became the professor of mineral physics and has made outstanding contributions to the physics of the earth's core.

He spoke of the role of UCL as a Global University, not a technical college, and explained the reasons for UCL remaining part of London University rather than breaking away and merging with Imperial College. He underlined the importance of the College maintaining its position in the top 15 universities and, in some classifications, the top four in the world. He highlighted Jeremy Bentham's inspiration that the essence of education was the ability to reform. The four ‘Grand Challenges’ are;                  

1. Global Health - which covers several disciplines to make a positive impact. The correction of defective infrastructure and breakdown of law combines medicine with engineering and economics in cross disciplinary research: climate change being one of the projects at the forefront.                    

2. Sustainable Cities - 80% of the world’s population live in cities and some, such as Mumbai, will not be sustainable.

3. Intercultural Interaction - which includes research by the Departments of Anthropology and Medicine into the cultural mix of North London and its environs. 

4. Human Wellbeing - which links research between economics and psychology.

Professor Price went on to say that UCL receives £375 million in outside grants and one of the new projects is the cutting edge neuroscience facility being built on the old Windeyer site of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. The School of Pharmacy has recently joined UCL.  There are now 26,000 students and discussions are taking place with Newham about the development of an adjacent site to the Olympic Park for student and staff housing.

There are international links with Qatar in the field of archeology and museum curating and with Australian energy and mining.

Ending his talk Professor Price stressed the importance of the need to improve the standard of secondary education locally. He is Chairman of the new UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage - the first intake has started for Years 7 and 12.

Another new project on the horizon is the development of the Francis Crick Centre in King's Cross which will be a world centre for medical research.

The President’s warm vote of thanks to Professor Price was endorsed by all those present.


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