Meet our Place Board – Mary-ann Astle, Staffordshire University
- Tell us about your role at Staffordshire University and any upcoming events you’re looking forward to.
My role as Head of Communications means I oversee several teams: Internal Comms (who manage our corporate level communications to staff and students), External Comms (who manage our relationship with the media), Events (with a focus on corporate events ranging from black-tie dinners to high profile talks), and Social Media (we’re on pretty much every social media platform you can think of).
As a result, my role is vary varied and no day is the same. At the moment, I’m very much looking forward to the University hosting our first TEDx event. TEDxStaffordshireUniversity will take place on 1 February 2023 in our Catalyst building on our Stoke-on-Trent campus. We’ll be announcing the speaker line-up in February, and we can’t wait!
- Staffordshire University opened it’s new Catalyst building this year and has been described as a ‘catalyst for change’. Can you explain more about this?
Before joining the University in September of 2020, I had spent 20 years as a journalist. A Stoke-on-Trent native, my last role in journalism was as Executive Editor of StokeonTrentLive/The Sentinel. I left journalism really wanting to stay local and make a difference – which was why I chose Staffordshire University.
I’m very proud to work for a truly civic university and it wasn’t until I worked here that I fully appreciated just how much this institute is embedded within the county.
As the largest university in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire by student numbers, Staffordshire University has a significant economic footprint both locally and across our region. This is a result of our University’s role as a large local employer, purchaser and attractor of students and visitors to the area. While much of this added value is concentrated in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, it is also driven by our other campuses and locations in Stafford, Lichfield, Shrewsbury and now London.
Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Jones, has a very clear vision for the University to be a ‘catalyst for change’ – a force for social good that transforms the lives of people, who will transform our society and the places in which we live.
When he took over the role in January 2022, he announced that he wanted the University to be known in the same way that people associate Staffordshire with Alton Towers, the Spitfire, Robbie Williams, and Josiah Wedgwood – and as someone who is firmly ‘local and proud’ that’s a mission that I can really get behind.
- What does Staffordshire have to offer to people as a place to study?
There is so much opportunity in Staffordshire – we’re perfectly placed in the heart of England, and we pretty much have every benefit going! We’ve got thriving towns and cities, brimming with history and heritage, and some of the most beautiful countryside in England right on our doorstep.
In terms of education, we have two respected universities that are both committed to helping to shape the workforce of tomorrow. We also have around 440 schools across the county. Staffordshire University is the sponsor of a large multi-academy trust of 20 schools. It’s one of the largest academy trusts in the county and most of the schools are in the south of the county.
- Why do you think the work of We Are Staffordshire is important?
In a relatively short period of time, We Are Staffordshire has become a real champion of our county. One huge advantage is the creation of a thriving network of Ambassadors which brings together people from all walks of life to get our ‘Staffordshire Story’ out to the wider world.
It’s honestly to refreshing to meet so many people who are so passionate about where they live and work and I really hope this network continues to grow so we can use our collective clout to help put Staffordshire on the world stage even more.
I’m very proud to be a Board member and I’m excited for the future direction of travel.
Our next Ambassador Event will be held at the Catalyst, Staffordshire University. Book your place today.