John Raine, Chair, updates on the work of the Commission
The MACC met on 26 January for its first meeting of 2023. We noted that, despite the Christmas break, it has been a busy period since we last met. We had the Ambassadors Advisory Committee (AAC) in Washington in December and, in January, the excellent AMS US-UK Legislative Exchange.
The programme for the Exchange was very impressive and it was a great pleasure to catch up with many of you at the dinner and receptions in Oxford and London. The participants on the Exchange I spoke with were all fulsome in their praise of the programme and the quality of the scholars. Thank you for engaging with them so positively. Their political support is very valuable for the programme, and a reflection of how successfully it has built ties and understanding over the decades between decision-makers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The AAC is the annual gathering of the chairs of the US selection committees, hosted by the Embassy in Washington. The summary from Adam, Chair of the Education Committee, provided the basis for our main discussion at the MACC. This year, the AAC set aside an afternoon for a deep dive on the scholar selection process.
To give us a first-hand feel for the process, Frances had kindly arranged a mock interview (I shan’t say who the candidate was, but they were successful) which brought to life the experience, and highlighted areas where we could improve. It was hugely helpful for those of us who haven’t sat on selection committees before.
We concluded that although there are some areas where we can improve by coordination, the interviews by the different panels are conducted to a high standard and assess similar qualifications. This is clearly evident in the quality of scholars who arrive each year in the UK. The MACC noted its appreciation of the huge amount of time the volunteer panellists dedicated to the process.
The MACC looked ahead at the finances for the next selection round and the years ahead. We couldn’t avoid the projected impact of inflation on tuition fees and cost of living. Whilst our core funding is secure, we noted that we would need to consider how we maintain the current class numbers and the quality of the student experience.
As you know the Commission has always benefited enormously from its two Alumni Observers. As one of our Observers, Frances, is now a Commissioner, we have a vacancy. We are keen to have a wide slate of candidates. I know how wonderfully enthusiastic Marshall Scholars have been over the years to pay back to the programme, and very much hope this will be reflected in the applicants. I have already had a few welcome enquiries. Haley has the full details should any of you know of a scholar who might be interested.
I wish you all a successful term and look forward to seeing you at the next Marshall event or when I am visiting your university.
Chair of the Marshall Association Commemoration Commission