Mature student leads biggest university

February 7, 1997

A WOMAN who entered academia as a mature student has been appointed head of Britain's largest university. Alexandra Burslem, deputy vice chancellor and academic director of Manchester Metropolitan University, is to take over the top post when Sir Kenneth Green retires in September.

She will be only the seventh female vice chancellor in the country. Her salary has not been decided. Mrs Burslem, aged 56, was born in China and spent her early years as a Japanese wartime internee. She returned to England aged five.

She became a mature student at Manchester University in 1971, graduating with a first-class honours degree in politics and modern history. She followed this with two years' postgraduate research into Government/industry links before moving to Manchester Polytechnic as a lecturer in politics and public administration.

Over the past 24 years she has progressed to head of the department of applied community studies in 1982, assistant director and dean of community studies and education in 1986, and eventually academic director and deputy director. When the poly gained university status in 1992 she was made deputy vice chancellor. "Like many women I have a family and husband and women tend not to be as mobile in their careers as many men," she said.

She wants to maintain the university's teaching and research balance, promoting academic excellence and access to education for a wide range of people.

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