Paul Thandi, CEO of the NEC Group

Paul Thandi

“Education is vital for the future of business. I sit on the Birmingham and Solihull Employment and Skills Board and believe strongly in the importance of skills development and the overwhelmingly positive contribution that it can make, particularly in the face of our current economy.

“By supporting Universities we can ensure bright, young talent is retained in the UK and individuals are given the opportunity to showcase their skills and development through practical work placements.

“Here in the Midlands we have some of the best universities in the country -  Aston University, Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick, and Coventry University – and among them they nurture some of the best talent.

“Universities are equipping students with the necessary skills and experience to become the people that will ultimately drive our future economy – it’s of paramount importance that we all support them.”

Shazia Mirza, Comedian

Shazia Mirza
“I am supporting Universities Week because university has had a great impact on my life and career. I was born and brought up in Birmingham, studied in Manchester, then did a postgraduate degree at Goldsmiths, University of London, before going on to Drama School.

"I worked as a teacher before I went into comedy – it’s all been one long education! Universities can help social mobility, create opportunities for performers and entrepreneurs to flourish, and give self confidence to young people from a range of backgrounds.

"I know that universities like Aston University are at the centre of their community and Universities Week is a great way for more people to find out about the contribution they make to society. Every place of education offers progression, and every person in it, has a chance to better themselves.”

Dr Phil Extance, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Partnerships & Knowledge Transfer

Dr Phil Extance - Pro-Vice-Chancellor
“Businesses need great people and new ideas – and that is what universities provide.  Employable graduates from Aston, mostly with real work experience through placements, are an obvious output from our university but bright young people can also be part of your business through undergraduate placements, Masters projects, research projects, knowledge transfer partnerships and in many other ways – it is worth talking to us about how we can supply you with great new ideas – with legs attached!

"Aston University has a track record of carrying out exploitable research that is readily translated from an academic world into real products and services and that provides a catalyst to businesses to do thing differently.  Bringing together the knowledge base of university academics with real challenges faced by businesses will yield new solutions and new insights – innovation comes from trying new things – give it a go!”

Prof Helen Higson, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Relations

Prof Helen Higson
“The value which universities bring to their local community is not often at the fore, but it certainly is something for which there should be a big fanfare.  Volunteering is, for example, a major part of life at Aston University. It isn’t just a way of making a difference to society; staff and students gain a great deal from their volunteering. For example, developing new skills which will enhance their employability or making new friends and contacts within and outside of the university. Aston’s Centre for Staff and Graduate Development organises a range of staff volunteering activities from gardening to providing help with reading in local schools.

“Our students are even more active. Aston Ambassadors and Aimhigher Associates contribute in a number of ways to local school and community projects. Volunteering Week, organised jointly with our Students’ Guild, is a highlight of the year and 1,700 of our students are involved in mentoring activities. Perhaps the crowning glory, however, is Aston RAG (Raise and Give) which manages to raise one of the highest amounts of money, per head of our student population, in the country - how proud we should be of our students!”