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Debora Kayembe elected as Rector at the University of Edinburgh

Debora Kayembe, human rights lawyer and activist who originally arrived in the UK sixteen years ago from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been elected as the 54th Rector of the University of Edinburgh.

Nick Rowland, acting Chair of the Refugee, Asylum and At-Risk Advisory Group and Regional Director (Africa) at the University has expressed the significance of this appointment:

“The election of Debora Kayembe has unsurprisingly generated news across the UK, and in her first home, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Refugee, Asylum & At-Risk Advisory Group looks forward to working with our new Rector to continue the work we do to support staff and students who have come to the UK, often through circumstances beyond their control. It is also of course significant for us all at the University to see people from all backgrounds in influential positions and it is truly significant – and indeed something to celebrate – to have a black, African, former refugee appointed to this position.”

Our best wishes to Debora Kayembe, who started her appointment on the 1st of March at Edinburgh, one of the first two Universities to receive a University of Sanctuary Award in the UK.

Have a look at some news reports of this appointment:

The role of Rector at Scottish Universities:

The position of Rector has a long and prestigious lineage. Originally created in the 19th century by the Universities Scotland Act 1858, the role has developed over time.

The Rector is a member of the University’s most powerful decision-making body, the University Court, playing a presiding role to ensure all voices are heard in making important decisions that affect students and staff. In recent times, Rectors have often seen their role as a point of contact for the University community, seeking to assist with difficulties or issues where they arise.