Join us for our virtual Welcome Event for new Commonwealth Scholars!
The Welcome Event is the largest event in the CSC calendar and an opportunity for new Commonwealth Scholars to come together and mark the beginning of their scholarship journey.
Commonwealth Scholars studying in different regions of the UK will be able to share ideas and engage in critical discussions on their scholarship work in relation to the development agenda.
The CSC Welcome event is also an occasion to hear from inspirational speakers involved in the work of the CSC and the wider Commonwealth. We are pleased to be joined by a host of special guests at this year’s event who will be speaking about the importance of higher education to the future Commonwealth and sharing advice on how Scholars can look after their mental health and wellbeing while they are studying.
Please see the Agenda and Speaker tabs for details of the programme and the speakers who will be joining us on the day.
Welcome Event programme
Richard Middleton, Chair, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK
15.10-15.20 Ministerial welcome
Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
15.20-15.40 Keynote address
Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)
15.40-15.55 Keynote Q&A
15.55-16.00 Tea break
16.00-16.30 Breakout session: Scholar introductions and discussion on the six CSC development themes
16.30-16.50 Staying well in an uncertain world: skills for life
Dr Dominique Thompson, GP, Author, and Director of Buzz Consulting
16.50-17.05 Speaker Q&A
17.05-17.15 Closing remarks
Dr Joanna Newman MBE, Executive Secretary of the CSC and Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
Richard Middleton is the current Chair of the CSC and is responsible for ensuring the CSC makes good decisions (consistent with UK Government priorities) and for ensuring the Commission develops an effective strategy.
Alongside this role, Richard is also Chief Operating Officer (Interim) at University of Southampton. Previously, Richard was Chief Operating Officer at Aston University and has worked at several other universities in senior administrative positions. Prior to this Richard worked in charitable organisations assisting single homeless people in London for 15 years, and contributing to many legislative, funding and service changes.
Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon is the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Lord Ahmad was made a life peer in January 2011. Before his time in Parliament, Lord Ahmad had a 20-year career in the City working in banking and finance, including at the NatWest Group where he was a senior manager in corporate banking and financial markets.
In 2017, Lord Ahmad was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibilities to the Commonwealth, the United Nations, and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and later South Asia.
Professor Rita Akosua Dickson is the first female Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), having commenced the role in August 2020. Prior to this, she served as KNUST’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is an alumnus of KNUST, having completed her undergraduate degree in Pharmacy at the institution.
She was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship in 2003 to complete a PhD in Pharmacognosy at King’s College London and a Commonwealth Academic Fellowship in 2012 at the UCL School of Pharmacy.
Professor Rita Akosua Dickson is an accomplished Phytochemist whose scientific knowledge and research expertise have impacted the international scientific community through training, mentorship and scientific appraisals. Her research work spans the identification and development of bioactive nature products as standard medicines for the treatment/management of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Dr Dominique Thompson is an award winning GP, young people’s mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with over 20 years of clinical experience caring for students, including as a police and expedition doctor, and as Director of Service at the University of Bristol Students’ Health Service. She was named Bristol Healthcare Professional of the Year 2017. In 2019 she was nominated as one of the Top 100 West Women of the Year.
Dom is a Clinical Advisor for NICE, the Royal College of GPs, the Anorexia Bulimia Care charity, and for Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. She is also a regular commentator on student health matters and has appeared on the Today programme (BBC Radio 4), BBC News 24, Sky TV, The Guardian and in the Financial Times.
Dr Joanna Newman MBE is Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU where she is responsible for fostering and promoting the aims of the ACU, as defined by its membership, in developing inter-Commonwealth relations in the field of higher education.
Prior to this, Joanna was the Vice-Principal (International) at King’s College London and has also represented the UK higher education sector as Director of the UK Higher Education International Unit (now known as Universities UK International). Previously, Joanna worked as Head of Higher Education at the British Library.
Joanna is a Senior Research Fellow in the History Faculty at King’s College London and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton. Joanna previously held teaching positions at University College London and the University of Warwick. In 2014, she was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her work promoting British higher education internationally.