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The Business Magazine May 2024
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Former BBC News anchor named chancellor of Bath Spa University

13 May 2024
The Business Magazine article image for: Former BBC News anchor named chancellor of Bath Spa University
Sharanjit Leyl, chancellor of Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University has welcomed Sharanjit Leyl as its new chancellor.

The university’s first female chancellor, and only the second chancellor in its almost 20-year history, Sharanjit will act as an ambassador for Bath Spa on a local, national and global stage.

Her career as a BBC World News anchor and leading business and politics reporter saw Sharanjit travel across the globe for almost a quarter of a century.

She regularly moderates high-level debates for the United Nations, as well as multilateral and financial institutions, and advises companies and educational institutions on media strategy and diversity.

Now living between Bath and her native Singapore, Sharanjit is a trustee for the Bath Fashion Museum and board member at the Holburne Museum.

Speaking at her inauguration last week, Sharanjit said: “I stand here because of the socially uplifting power of education that has transformed my life.

“My late father, Kernail Singh Leyl, was born in Singapore to a poor immigrant family and was one of eight children.

“He excelled academically and made it to the country’s most prestigious school. He did it through sheer grit and hard work.

“So determined was he to be educated, that he studied by streetlamp at a time when Singapore was a developing country and didn’t have reliable electricity coverage.

“Through all his efforts, he won scholarships and became the first person to go to university in my family, which has led to a completely different life for my brothers and me.

“My father’s story isn’t a far cry from many of the students at Bath Spa University.

“More than 40 percent of the BSU student population are among the first in their family to go to university, just like my father did.

“About a quarter of our students are from ethnic minorities, like me, and many more are working their way through university, holding down one or more jobs so they can afford to have an education.

“It shows the sheer grit and determination of the students here at BSU, who are so much like my father – students whom I’m inspired by and so proud to represent.” 

Professor Sue Rigby, vice chancellor of the university, welcomed Sharanjit to the BSU community with pledges, music and performances from students and staff. 

She added: “Sharanjit will be the honorary head of the youngest and most vibrant university in the West of England.

“A university is a community of learners. We live by the certainty that we can make and think the world better, one act at a time, taking on the impossible problems of the age.

“We’re so delighted and honoured that Sharanjit has accepted this role, will take us forward, and be an important part of our brilliant and thriving community.”

Appointed by the board of governors, the chancellor plays an unpaid advisory role at the university.

Sharanjit will be presenting certificates to students at Bath Spa’s summer graduation ceremonies, as well as attending numerous informal and more formal events throughout the academic year.

Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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