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Celebrating Birkbeck’s Foundation

Keynote speaker Sacha Romanovitch praised Birkbeck’s ethos of inclusivity and curiosity at the College’s annual Foundation Day dinner.

Birkbeck welcomed Sacha Romanovitch, outgoing CEO of Grant Thornton, to deliver the keynote address at the annual Foundation Day dinner where she joined friends and supporters of the College to discuss inclusivity, curiosity and the importance of lifelong learning.

She reflected on the value of institutions like Birkbeck which create space for curiosity and emphasise collaboration over competition, saying: “Birkbeck's people use their education to make a difference.” She highlighted the need to change the framing of learning as something that stops when we leave university if society is to be fit for the future, explaining how her sons inspired her to think about the importance of lifelong learning.

The Foundation Day Dinner is hosted each year by Professor David Latchman CBE, the Master of Birkbeck, as closely as possible to 2 December - the date of the College’s foundation in 1823. The College was originally founded as a Mechanics’ Institute by George Birkbeck to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working Londoners.

Professor Latchman spoke of how closely Birkbeck has remained to this original mission today, saying: “not many universities have been going for 200 years, and even fewer can say that they still work in a way that their founders would recognise.”

He also spoke about some of the particular initiatives that make Birkbeck such a special place, such as the Compass Project, which provides asylum seekers with fully funded study, and the College’s outreach work in the boroughs of Newham and Haringey, providing advice, guidance and learning opportunities for groups typically underrepresented in higher education.

Hosted at Birkbeck’s Malet Street Campus, the event is an opportunity to update guests on the College’s activities and to build networks with alumni and the community.

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