UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL Laws celebrates 2023 graduation ceremonies

25 September 2023

On 8 September, UCL Laws staff, graduating students and guests gathered at the Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the class of 2023.

group of students in graduation gowns

The first ceremony was held to celebrate the achievements of our graduates on the LLB programmes. Attendees were welcomed by Dr Michael Spence (President and Provost at UCL), who recognised the commitment shown by our graduands both in and outside of the classroom, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Eloise Scotford (Dean of UCL Laws) delivered her opening address, commending both the LLB graduands (including the UCL Law Society committee members) and the teaching and professional services staff, who together navigated various challenges in recent years with determination, ingenuity, commitment to excellence and compassion. Professor Scotford said: “We can’t wait to see what you do next, spreading the spirit and values of UCL Laws across the world. We know that you will do great, innovative and purposeful things and we look forward to watching them with pride.”

The LLB graduands were then presented with their degrees, followed by the student address delivered by Maggie McGarvey (LLB 2023), who offered warm congratulations to the graduating class of 2023. 

Victor Chu (chair of UCL Council) presented the first Honorary Doctorate of Law of the day to Baroness Jo Valentine. In his speech, Victor commended Baroness Valentine’s wide-ranging career, spanning business, politics, regeneration and industry; and her achievements as Chief Executive of London First, where she was instrumental in the creation of Teach First and campaigning for Crossrail and the London Olympics.

After receiving her degree from Dr Spence, Baroness Valentine delivered an inspirational speech in which she shared eight key life lessons. She concluded by encouraging the new graduates to “seize the day”. She said: “You have been to one of the world’s best universities. Welcome and embrace the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead.”

Professor Eloise Scotford presented the second Honorary Doctorate of Law to Professor Toni Williams. Professor Scotford highlighted Professor Williams’ significant contributions to research and to higher education leadership. Professor Williams has carried out pioneering and world-leading research systematically and critically analysing the law’s relationship with social justice, particularly in the area of consumer credit, and has also acted as a senior leader in UK higher education with vision, fearlessness, and a deep commitment to social justice.

Addressing the audience, Professor Williams expressed her thanks and heartfelt congratulations to the graduates; and emphasised UCL’s founding values of openness and equality in accessing education. She said: “Your UCL education is achievement, but it is much more than that: it is an enabler, a privilege, and a superpower.”

Dean of Laws with BAroness Valentine and Professor Williams who were awarded honorory doctorates

The LLM and PhD graduation ceremony was opened by Professor Geraint Rees (UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement)), where he spoke about the values and qualities that are important for graduates in their future careers. 

Malike Kellier (LLM 2023 and Graduate Law Society President) delivered the student address, where he paid tribute to his fellow graduates and acknowledged the invaluable experience of learning with and from students from wide-ranging backgrounds and with diverse viewpoints and expertise.

Victor Chu, Chair of UCL Council, then introduced David Miliband, who was presented with the third Honorary Doctorate in Law. Victor spoke about David’s distinguished political career and his commitment to helping some of the most marginalised people in the world as President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, overseeing the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries.

In his speech, David underlined the importance of the rule of law: “My request to you is that every day and every week of your careers going forward, you will take action to uphold and defend the rule of law…I thank you in advance for what you’re going to do in your careers ahead that show that human beings can learn from their history, and not relive it.”

Dean of Laws with David Milliband, who received honorary doctorate

Jennifer Janes (Laws 1963) has also been awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of her contribution to building UCL’s international community. An esteemed member of the UCL Laws alumni community, Jennifer is joint founder and committee chair of the UCL Israel Alumni Association and initiated the Chevening UCL Israel Alumni Chaim Herzog Award. She received UCL’s Murie Robertson Award for outstanding contribution to alumni activity in 2000. 

The ceremony then turned to the presentation for postgraduate research degrees in law, where six new PhD graduates were admitted formally into the academic community.

Graduation dinner with staff and friends of UCL Laws

Both ceremonies were followed by drinks receptions at the Royal Festival Hall, providing an opportunity for staff, graduates, friends and family to come together one last time to celebrate. Later in the evening, a special dinner was held for Faculty staff, alumni and friends, where Professor Scotford addressed the guests, highlighting the strength of the UCL Laws community, which is sustained by its deep-seated twin values of pursuing excellence with humanity.

Graduation 2023 was a truly remarkable event to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students, who are at the heart of the Faculty’s academic mission. The latest Guardian University Guide, published on 9 September, ranks UCL Laws as the top university for studying law in the UK - a testament to the Faculty’s strengths as a world-leading and research-led law school.

group of UCL Laws graduands

Andrew Ng with two of his mentees

Andrew Ng (LLB 1985, Honorary Fellowship 2014) with two of his mentees on the LLB Law programme, Cartman Tai (LLB 2023) and Jason Wu (LLB 2023).