Meet our City Partner, Solent University

We are delighted to have the support of our City Partner, Solent University. We caught up with Vice-Chancellor Karen Stanton to hear about what Southampton means to her and why Solent are backing the bid.



What are your links to Southampton?

My Dad was a First Officer and Chief Navigator in the Merchant Navy and regularly sailed from Southampton. My first memory of the City was as a school girl when I sailed from here to Europe and the Middle East on the SS Uganda as part of an educational trip for the children of seafarers. When I became the Vice Chancellor of Solent University in March 2020 I relocated to the city and, despite lockdown, have enjoyed living here.


Do you have a Southampton hidden gem or top tip?

I think the Southampton (Old) Bowling Green is a hidden gem. It is an oasis of green and reminds me of long summer days. My top tip is to make the most of Southampton’s Parks and common land to walk, picnic and recreate.


What does culture mean for you?

Art, music, sport, people, place and community and the challenge to make it accessible to all.


As a local business why have you committed to the bid?

Solent University is in and of the City. We are a University without walls and are part of the local community. We are committed to the bid because it will benefit everyone in the City by linking Southampton with creativity in its many forms.


What benefit do you hope to see for Solent University?

The bid will shine a spotlight on the City. The importance of place is at the heart of Solent’s new Strategy 2025 and engaging with our community is one of our top three strategic priorities. The bid will support our work to enhance our reputation, strengthen our commitment to our creative courses, research and knowledge exchange and attract students, talent and funding to the University. We are also launching the Southampton School of Art, Design and Fashion. A perfect fit alongside a City of Culture. Post pandemic I think we will all need to reconnect with our City and our surroundings. Becoming the UK City of Culture would give all of us a much needed ‘pick-me- up’ and a real sense of pride in the City. The benefits of the ‘feel-good-factor’ and having something to celebrate should not be underestimated at this difficult time.

How do you think that UK City of Culture will impact Southampton and the wider region long term?

It will help build the brand of the City as a place of opportunity and as a place that is changing and moving forward. It will attract international attention, create lasting relationships and propel Southampton on to a global stage in recognition of its cultural assets.


Would you urge other business to back the bid and why?

Yes because ‘all boats rise on the same tide’. Collaboration and partnership are key to success. For Southampton to reach its full potential all sectors of the City need to support this initiative. Everyone will benefit from a successful bid. Lets all get behind it.