Gwilym Roberts, Director of Occupational Therapy and Deputy Director of the School of Healthcare Studies, recalls student life.
Being a native Welsh speaker as a student here in 1978, naturally I was keen to promote the profile of the Welsh language provision. I was heavily involved with the Gym Gym society and a great experience that I can remember in 1981 was that I was the archdruid (the person who gave the crown and chair away) at the Intercollegial Eisteddfod which took place in the Great Hall at Cardiff University. At the time, as trivial as it may sound now, it was quite a significant achievement for the then College of Medicine. Bangor University and Aberystwyth University were always the big guns at this event but Cardiff thrived in that particular year and we did huge amounts of good work.
My Diploma in Occupational Therapy was based half on the Cathay’s campus and half on the Heath Park Campus. When I passed the Biosciences building earlier on this week, the smell instantly hit me and took me immediately back to my undergraduate years. It was a part of my university experience that had left me, but it was amazing that being so close to that building took me back to the 1970s.
I came back to Cardiff as Deputy Director of Occupational Therapy in 2003 and later became Director. Today, all my Occupational Therapy students can complete their degrees through the medium of Welsh and we now have four years of graduates. We also have the only School of Healthcare Studies in the Russell Group of universities and the Welsh language route attracts many students from North and West Wales.
From a social and economic perspective, the University’s role in Cardiff and Wales is crucial. The School of Healthcare Studies provides for a significant part of the NHS workforce and therefore we must provide competent and safe therapists. This is dependent on top quality learning and teaching, which we naturally provide. As we have shifted to a research-led community, we are starting to become more successful in winning research grants and we are starting to reap the benefits.
As for the future of the University I would like it to be more confident in embracing the Welsh language provision. Cardiff University is a very dynamic and powerful organisation and the talent it has, I think makes it very very strong globally. At 125 years, we have reached an important milestone and it has provided us with a great opportunity to reflect on all the significant achievements and innovations that we have achieved so far.