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“Going to university has transformed my life” – Professor Andy Long featured as part of #100Faces campaign

15th April 2024

Professor Andy Long, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at Northumbria University, has been highlighted in a new campaign, ‘100 Faces - First in my Family’, which shares 100 stories of how going to university has changed people’s lives.

The national campaign, organised by Universities UK, focuses on the stories of first-generation students and graduates and the impact they have had on our society. It features a variety of contributors, from Nobel prize winners, to politicians, from social advocates to sporting stars and aims to showcase the diversity and talent of first-generation students and how they have improved their lives after attending university.

Andy attended the University of Warwick where he studied applied mathematics and went on to achieve his master’s in computer integrated engineering at Loughborough University. He did a PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Nottingham, where he became a member of staff. He served as Dean and then Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering at Nottingham from 2011 to 2018, when he was appointed Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Andy was appointed as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University in 2022.

Andy’s research interests are on the design and manufacture of polymer composites for demanding applications particularly in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors.  He has over 350 publications including around 130 refereed journal papers, co-authored/edited three textbooks on polymer composites, supervised over 30 successful PhD students, and been principal investigator for research grants totalling around £33million including the EPSRC Future Manufacturing Research Hub in Composite Materials.

Andy was also Chair of the Executive Management Group for Midlands Innovation, a partnership between Central England universities, and of the SAMPE UK & Ireland Chapter, organising conferences and events on materials process engineering.

Because of his own journey into higher education, Andy is passionate about ensuring students from all backgrounds continue to think higher education is an opportunity for them.

“I was the first in my family to go to university, having attended the local comprehensive school and sixth-form college,” he said. “When I went to Warwick I met people from a wide range of backgrounds, who would have different opportunities and perhaps different advantages to the ones I’d had. Going to university has transformed my life, providing me with opportunities that wouldn’t have been available via any other route. It has also given me a love for higher education and the transformational power that it has, which explains why I’ve stayed in and around universities for over 35 years.

“It continues to be important to me that we provide support for people from all backgrounds, giving them brilliant experiences and positive outcomes. As a university, we could decide to focus only on the students with the highest A-level grades from anywhere in the country. But by doing that, we’d leave behind some students with great potential who might be the first in their family to go to university. I want to make sure we reach out and build and maintain relationships with schools and colleges, ensuring students from all backgrounds continue to think Northumbria is a university for them. It really matters to me.”

In 2006 Andy was awarded the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Rosenhain Medal in recognition of distinguished achievement in materials science, and in 2014 was inducted as a SAMPE Fellow for significant contributions in materials and process engineering technology. In 2019 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Andy’s full story is available to read in the Higher Education Trailblazers category of the  ‘100 Faces - First in my Family’.

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