Report on the 2019 AGCAS Alumni Reunion

11 June 2019

Eighteen members of the AGCAS Alumni Network, travelling from as far apart as Aberystwyth, Cambridge and St Andrews, met together for the 2019 reunion from 15th - 16th May in Newcastle. Following a very sociable and tasty dinner in a local restaurant on the evening of the 15th, the reunion meeting on 16 May was generously hosted by Marc Lintern, Director of Student Experience, at the University of Newcastle. Following refreshments and a good chance to catch up again with fellow alumni, participants were warmly welcomed by Tom Davie, who had pulled out all the stops as local organiser. Margaret Dane and Martin Pennington, as members of the co-ordinating committee, introduced the various issues facing the AGCAS Alumni Network and highlighted the areas for further development. 

The Alumni then enjoyed a varied programme of speakers, starting with Marc Lintern who gave an interesting and entertaining presentation describing the current challenges facing the HE sector and AGCAS Careers Services, including the impact of government policy, changes to the collection of formerly DLHE data, social media and collaboration versus competition. He also referred to the changing focus of Heads of Service towards their institutional management as Careers Services continue to become more central to the university as a whole. There were lively questions and discussions on the various issues he raised. 

Next Marcus Andrews, Head of AGCAS Member Services, who has been providing the Alumni Network with on-going excellent support in and through the AGCAS Office, updated us all about recent developments in AGCAS, echoing some of the topics raised earlier. He covered the growth of AGCAS, the development and implementation of the new AGCAS strategy whose main strands include: Advocacy, Community, Quality, Learning, Research and Knowledge and the reflection of these in the new staffing structure and job titles. The current themes and work focus are: social mobility, regionalisation, graduate outcomes and academic alignment. Marcus then focused on the recent work done by AGCAS staff for the Alumni Network including the dedicated wepages and discussion list available at: and AGCAS-ALUMNI@JISCMAIL.AC.UK
Finally, Marcus also described the challenges and opportunities facing AGCAS and its members including government policy, the graduate labour market and employability as an institutional priority as well as the ever-present need to "do more with less", manage expectations and to engage students. 

After lunch, Dr Jude Murphy, Education Organiser, Workers Education Association Newcastle, spoke about the WEA and its promotion of heritage awareness amongst NE communities in England. Jude illustrated her talk with examples of the WEA'S history, publications and on-going activities. As an excellent singer herself, she also got participants joining in some historic Geordie songs and all were surprised at how good we were, even singing in harmony at one point. 

Afterwards, refreshments were available and there was a final opportunity for socialising prior to departure. Tom Davie had prepared detailed notes for a walking tour, with information about the city highlights and some of the famous people associated with Newcastle. Tom was joined by 11 alumni for the tour which took us round the key city landmarks on what had turned into a beautiful sunny evening. 

Overall the reunion was deemed another great success and votes of thanks were made to all concerned: organisers, hosts, speakers and participants.

If you are recently or about to retire and would like to know more about the AGCAS Alumni Network or how to join, please contact