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Message from the President

HE Julia Longbottom CMG: HE Julia Longbottom CMGHM Ambassador to JapanHE Julia Longbottom CMG
HM Ambassador to Japan
Message from the President

It is a great honour to be invited to serve as President of the Cambridge and Oxford Society of Japan.

The world, my world, has changed immeasurably since I first walked down The Chimney, the main entrance to Jesus College, Cambridge to interview for a place to study Modern and Medieval Languages (French and German) in 1981. I had little idea that in the four years ahead of me, I would build friendships for life, meet my future (and present) husband, be inspired by the wit and curiosity of my fellow students, expand my horizons through the teaching of leading academics in my subjects, and succeed on graduation in securing a job in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

In the forty years since then, there is much that has remained reassuringly the same about the two great centres of learning that are Oxford and Cambridge. The college system; the beautiful buildings and courtyards; the excellence of academic output and innovation; the sheer numbers of Nobel Prize laureates, global leaders, and world class researchers they continue to produce; the ceremonial traditions surrounding matriculation and graduation.

Yet our universities have not stood still. Both are working actively to attract the best candidates from all backgrounds and all identities, and are doing more to promote equality and diversity. Around 24% of undergraduates are international students. There are no longer any male-only colleges. My own college elected its first female ‘Master’, Barbados-born Sonita Alleyne in 2019, 40 years after it first admitted women as students. The world has changed, and Oxbridge with it.

I look forward, as soon as it is possible, to meeting the Society’s members. To hearing about your experience at Cambridge and/or Oxford, and how it has shaped your future. And above all, how it has helped equip you to thrive and make a difference in the ever-changing world of today – and tomorrow.

Julia Longbottom, CMG