First Minister recalls student days in Aber

First Minister and Aberystwyth alumnus Carwyn Jones speaking at the Founders event at the Pierhead, Cardiff

First Minister and Aberystwyth alumnus Carwyn Jones speaking at the Founders event at the Pierhead, Cardiff

04 November 2016

The First Minister shared memories of his days as an undergraduate at a special event to celebrate the Founders of Aberystwyth University on Thursday 3 November 2016.

Carwyn Jones was the guest speaker at a reception in the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay which brought together Aberystwyth University alumni and friends.

The event was officially sponsored by the Presiding Officer Elin Jones AM who also graduated from Aberystwyth University.

It was the first time the University has held a Founders’ celebration in Cardiff but it is hoped this will now become an annual event.

Dathliad Sylfaenwyr Prifysgol Aberystwyth / Aberystwyth University Founders Celebration

The event was an opportunity to commemorate how the University has been making its mark in the world since the 1850s, when a small group of patriotic scholars led by London Welshman Hugh Owen raised enough money through public and private subscription to establish the first college of university status in Wales. 

Aberystwyth University reintroduced Founders’ Day in October 2015 with a community breakfast celebration to mark the day when the first 26 students arrived at the Old College back in 1872.

The First Minister told a packed audience in the Pierhead that his experiences at Aberystwyth University had "shaped his life", providing him with an "excellent education" and "friends for life".

Carwyn Jones arrived as a fresher at Aberystwyth University in 1985 and graduated with a degree in Law in 1988 before going on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London.

“As an Aber graduate, I have been proud to see the university go from strength to strength. Over the past 144 years the institution has come a very long way, from a half-finished seafront hotel building with just 26 students in 1872, to one of Wales’ leading universities.

“I greatly enjoyed my time at Aber Uni and so the Founders’ celebration is a good opportunity to reflect on the many ways my university days influenced my life,” he added.

Acting Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth University, Professor John Grattan, said: “The story behind the founding of Aberystwyth University is an inspiration to us all. The wave of public support and the ‘pennies of the poor’ which led to the opening of the College by the Sea almost 150 years ago shows the emphasis which Wales as a nation has always placed on high quality education.

“Aberystwyth University has gone from strength to strength since those early days but learning and living in an exceptional environment has been a constant feature of student life here. Our student satisfaction rating is currently the highest in Wales according to this year’s National Student Survey and the latest Good University Guide puts us top in the country for teaching quality.

“As we reflect therefore on the achievements of our founders, we also take pride in the success of our current family of staff, students and alumni across the world. We are delighted that the First Minister as one of our foremost former students has been able to join us for this special celebration and we thank the Presiding Officer for officially sponsoring our event in the Pierhead, which like Old College represents one of the great moments in our nation’s history.”   

During the event Andrew Guy MBE and Chairman of the Coaching Inn Group was conferred as an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University by the Chancellor Sir Emyr Jones Parry.