WATCH: Attention university students – meet your new chancellor

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Price of school meals in Hampshire increases

Karen Blackett

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EVERYONE should be able to study at university, regardless of their background.

That is the philosophy of the new chancellor at the University of Portsmouth, Karen Blackett, OBE, who has taken over the role from TV presenter Sandi Toskvig.

Karen Blackett, OBE, right, with, from left, her mother Juanita Blackett, her  brother Julian Cumberbatch, and her son Isaac Blackett-Best

Karen Blackett, OBE, right, with, from left, her mother Juanita Blackett, her brother Julian Cumberbatch, and her son Isaac Blackett-Best

Karen is chairwoman of MediaCom and was also number one in the 2015 Power List of the UK’s 100 most influential black people – as well as being the first chancellor to be a university alumna.

She said: ‘I graduated with a degree in geography 25 years ago – university life has completely changed since then.

‘All of the courses have improved significantly and the other things the university is doing are amazing.

‘I am really excited to rediscover the city as well.’

After receiving an honorary doctorate from the university, Karen chose to stay in touch, before being told that she had been selected for the next five year term.

She said: ‘When the university reached out to me, I was absolutely thrilled.

‘The first person I told was my mother – she has stuck beside me all this time, so it just felt right to tell her.’

During her term as chancellor, Karen is aiming to both boost student resilience and make the university more inclusive, irrespective of their background.

She said: ‘In the current economic climate, the students are going to have to be very resilient to get into their chosen career.

‘Resilience in such a changeable and volatile world is huge – so as a university we must show them how to be like that.

‘I also believe that people who have the talent to come to university should not be put off by their personal background – that should play no role in their future.

‘We will be introducing an outreach project, and really want to focus on bringing people into the university to achieve what they have earned.’