LJMU has established a cross-university Armed Forces Steering Group to formalise and drive forward its commitment to supporting students, staff and its wider communities who have a connection to the Armed Forces.
Alongside the steering group, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Power has appointed the university’s first Armed Forces Champion to facilitate this activity across all factions of the university. Dr Gus Ryrie, a lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, who served in the Regular and Reserve Army for a period of 20 years before following a second career in higher education, will take on the role.
The group will be chaired by the Armed Forces Champion and meet every six weeks to identify, build and strengthen its activity to underpin the pledge that it made in 2021 as part of the Armed Forces Covenant. The covenant is a promise from LJMU to support and champion the contributions of serving personnel, both regular and reservists, veterans, and military families.
Better understand and support our Armed Forces community
A group has already met informally over the past 12 months, sharing updates on research projects with a focus on the military and veterans, as well as undertaking work that led to the university achieving bronze status under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) in November 2022.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Power said: “Around ten million people in the UK form part of our Armed Forces community and each year tens of thousands of them require some sort of support services. We know that there are people studying and working here at LJMU from this group, or who are considering joining us, be that as a teacher, researcher, student, or member of our support staff. We need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to better understand and address their needs.
“Under our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, and through the establishment of our steering group, I know that we can have a positive impact and become a leading example for an inclusive organisation which understands how veterans, reservists, cadets and their families can contribute to higher education, and society, and thrive through these opportunities.”
Objectives of the group
LJMU’s Armed Forces Steering Group will concentrate its efforts on:
- Creating mentoring opportunities and implementing better support strategies for students and staff who are veterans, reservists, or family members of Armed Forces personnel
- Pursuing cross-faculty research and knowledge exchange opportunities, as well as collaborations with external partners and organisations, that focus on the Armed Forces community
- Identifying, building, and strengthening links and partnerships with organisations in the Liverpool City Region associated with supporting veterans and with tri-service military organisations to establish tailored recruitment support for both those seeking to work or study at LJMU
- Raising further awareness and understanding about the university’s pledge under the Armed Forces Covenant and encouraging staff and student participation in key national activities such as Armed Forces Day and Remembrance
- Gaining silver and gold status under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme
- Facilitating the development and sharing of good practice across all aspects of the university in support of the Armed Forces Covenant
LJMU’s Armed Forces Champion
Gus Ryrie joined the Corps of Royal Engineers upon leaving school aged 16. He completed 11 years in the Regular Army, serving in the UK, Germany, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Falklands, and Australia, before leaving to undertake his initial HE studies. During this time, he continued to serve as an Army Reservist, alongside further postgraduate study, being deployed to Kosovo during this period and only finishing his military service to concentrate on his PhD and academic teaching role at LJMU.
Gus said: “As a former member of the Armed Forces who transitioned into higher education, I am aware of some of the challenges and potential barriers that may be faced. Personally, it was asking myself, was I doing the right thing? Was I good enough? Did I have the ability to go back to university as a mature student? At times, it wasn’t a ‘simple transition’, therefore, it is important that we as an institution explore the ways in which we can support, guide and mentor veterans and reservists entering higher education, ensuring that they are able to reach their full potential.”
Gus hopes that the formalisation of the cross-university Armed Forces Steering Group will build upon the positive work that has already been undertaken by a small but dedicated team at LJMU.
“We as an institution can build on the current good work that happens across areas of the institution, develop consistent and clear practices, and provide support mechanisms and structures for staff and students in support of key areas already outlined in the Armed Forces Covenant. In addition, we can expand, explore and develop an integrated research portfolio aimed at supporting the wider veteran community, regionally, nationally and internationally.”
Gus added: “We are looking to attract colleagues and students from all parts of the university to be part of the steering group. Therefore, if you feel you could support this work in any way, or have some suggestions or questions, please get in touch.”
Email our Armed Forces Steering Group to find out more and to get involved.
Find out more about LJMU’s commitment to the Armed Forces community.
Note: The figure of 10 million people is taken from the definition of the Armed Forces Community in the Ministry of Defence’sArmed Forces Covenant.