Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Marshall recognised in the King's Honours list

Categories: University Campus

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, Professor Helen Marshall, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in King Charles’ 2023 Birthday Honours list for services to Higher Education.

Helen Marshall

Professor Helen Marshall was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford in 2015 at a time when the University had suffered significant year-on-year declines in student recruitment and was financially unsustainable. As an anchor institution in Salford, one of the most deprived cities in England, Helen boldly embarked on a turnaround strategy that built on the University’s DNA to meet the skills and needs of industry and drive the education, attainment, social mobility, and economic activity of the city and beyond.

Her vision created opportunities for learners who never felt university was for them. Helen was the first in her family to attend university and she has embodied the transformational experiences and opportunities that higher education can offer. In her eight-year tenure as Vice-Chancellor, as the University of Salford has grown, the University continues to draw students from across the social spectrum. Most recently, initiatives supported by Helen, such as IntoUniversity, have built on the strength of the University’s community engagement to ensure that Salford continues to be a university for all.

Helen also secured the first university-sponsored Institute of Technology, working in partnership with the Further Education sector to offer a suite of new qualifications aimed at attracting students from schools, colleges, and those in work that would not have previously seen higher education as an option for them.

The University has responded to the challenges of the political agenda, diversifying the curriculum offer with Degree Apprenticeships and programmes aimed at addressing the Higher Technical Skills shortages. Under Helen’s leadership, the University has also taken the opportunities of overseas market demand by increasing the recruitment of international students to our main campus, and established an innovative campus in Bahrain, the British University of Bahrain, to provide a regional centre for the study of Salford degrees. Further international partnership opportunities  are already underway in Vietnam.

Helen’s ambition for the University’s research and knowledge to have real-world impact is exemplified in Energy House 2.0, a unique facility that will play a key role in accelerating the progress towards low carbon and net zero housing design and retrofit. Further, her vision about how robotics can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the North to improve their productivity has seen the creation of the North of England Robotics Innovation Centre, a facility to train employees and allow SMEs to test robotic solutions across fields as diverse as manufacturing to in-home healthcare.

Helen has also led and provided strategic direction to the creation of the Crescent Masterplan which will create an innovation park attracting new employers to the region, a new cultural quarter, and a multi-million-pound upgrade to facilities to enhance the student experience.

Despite a decline in the school leaver population, the University has grown its home undergraduate recruitment to its largest-ever intake. The University has gone from strength to strength and is now in a solid financial position.

In November 2022 Helen announced her retirement from the University of Salford and will retire at the end of the current academic year, in August 2023.

Professor Helen Marshall said: “This is a huge and unexpected honour. The opportunity to lead a University such as Salford is not just a job, it is a vocation and in the last 8 years, together, we have transformed the University. We have embarked on a journey of innovation and excellence, fostering an inclusive and collaborative learning environment. We have achieved remarkable milestones from pioneering research to enhancing our curriculum to meet the evolving needs of our students and employers. We have established strong partnerships with industry, ensuring our graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge to thrive in the competitive job market. Our commitment to social responsibility has guided us in creating initiatives that address pressing societal issues and we have actively contributed to sustainable development, championed diversity and inclusion, and supported the Salford and Greater Manchester skills agenda. This honour is an acknowledgement of a collective endeavour and I accept it on behalf of the whole university community.”

The Rt. Hon. Lord Keith Bradley, Chair of Council at the University of Salford, commented: “On behalf of the University of Salford Council, and our entire University community, I am absolutely delighted to congratulate Helen on her appointment. This is thoroughly deserved and is a testament to her leadership of the University through some very challenging times. Her vision, drive and successes are testament to her tenacious character and her commitment to creating opportunities for all. Her achievements have created a social and economic legacy for the people of Salford, Greater Manchester and beyond. Very many congratulations.” 

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