Pamela Gillies


Principal & Vice-Chancellor



Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian is located in the heart of the City of Glasgow providing undergraduate and postgraduate courses to 16,500 students from 100 countries. With a further 3000 students at our new campus in London and our partnership colleges in Muscat, Jinan, Dhaka and Pune, we are globally networked to allow our talented students find their place as productive global citizens, providing them with real world education that motivates them, fosters their aspirations, and helps them develop skills and capabilities to meet a lifetime of job opportunities. GCU improves access to higher education for individuals living in areas of social deprivation and those whose families have no experience in higher education; and by so doing, the University taps in to the community’s strength, talents, and character. Founded in 1875, GCU builds on a proud tradition of innovation, intellectual curiosity and creativity to deliver areas of international excellence in applied research that produce practical benefits to society, particularly in health, engineering and the environment. Our Business Academies with multinational companies, public and voluntary sector agencies, provide internships for students and collaborations for our world leading research. We are ambitious, transformative and an engine for social change and economic growth.

Glasgow Caledonian University community

The City of Glasgow in Scotland was the powerhouse of engineering invention and manufacture which fuelled the industrial revolution of Victorian Britain.
Following the collapse of the shipbuilding industry in the mid 20th Century, Glasgow declined and poverty, disease and inequality was rife. The City has however rejuvenated itself in the past 30 years becoming a City of culture in 1990 and UNESCO City of Music in 2008. It is now renowned for its creative industries, its medical research and cancer care advances and engineering prowess, delivering greener, renewable and safer energy solutions. The home of 3 Universities in the world top 400 rankings and the site for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the city is globally networked. It still struggles to find solutions to the worst record for health and social inequalities and worklessness in the UK. It is nevertheless second only to London as a leisure and retail destination. Glasgow Caledonian University is committed to the social, cultural and business life of the region, contributing £406 million each year to the economy of the nation and, through its Caledonian Club, is practically engaged in raising the aspirations and breaking the cycle of deprivation of its most disadvantaged citizens.

Commitment to community engagement

The University’s Caledonian Club was established with core funding in 2008 to work in partnership with nursery, primary and secondary schools from the poorest parts of the City of Glasgow to raise aspirations and improve the learning skills of young people and their families from local areas. Children, parents and grandparents from 3 to 93 years old join the club through their schools and become part of the University community with their own matriculation card. This gives them access to University resources and premises where they come to learn using the latest technologies through specifically designed programmes supported by student and staff mentors. Learning and new understandings flow both ways in this arrangement from pupils and families to students and staff and vice versa. And it works. The University has embarked up on a longitudinal scientific study to measure the impact of reaching out in this way on social inclusion, health, self efficacy, the learning journey and parenting techniques. Early data demonstrates statistically significant improvements in communication skills and confidence. This has not gone unnoticed by Heads of schools and nurseries who have noted the projects ability to: “Inspire my pupils.” (Head Teacher, St Bartholomew's Primary School), and engage parents as well as pupils,
because: “The opportunities in the early years are limitless if you can engage families. The children love it.” (Head of Cloan Nursery)

Qualitative feedback capturing the stories of the club’s success is regularly made available to teachers, pupils and parents reinforcing commitment and a sense of pride in the initiative. In 2011 the club membership includes 3,700 pupils and 1,500 parents and it has employed up to 177 student mentors.

The University opened a new GCU London campus in September 2010 and is launching a London based club for the people of Tower Hamlets, the community on our London doorstep, which shares a similar experience of deprivation to our Glasgow based club members.

It is not surprising therefore that this initiative, which the University is committed to delivering for the long term, has won national as well as city-wide awards for its contribution to social justice.