Coleg y Cymoedd - Professor Julien Baker

Professor Julien Baker receives his AoC Gold Award
Professor Julien Baker (centre) receives his AoC Gold Award at the House of Commons.

Professor Julien Baker was recognised with an AoC Gold Award in June 2015, having been nominated by Coleg y Cymoedd. Professor Baker studied at the college, where he completed a number of courses, between 1971 and 1985, when it was formerly the Rhondda College and later Pontypridd Technical College.

Currently Director of Research at the Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science at the University of West Scotland Professor Baker’s remarkable success is testament to the ability of FE colleges to create a space for students to prosper, where schools have not allowed them to do so.

After completing a one-year pre-apprenticeships programme in 1971 Professor Baker, went on to take up an apprenticeship in engineering as a toolmaker with FSG Ltd. He left his apprenticeship in 1973 without completing it and instead went to Pontypridd Technical College to study GCEs in English Language and Art.

He worked, for a number of years, in industry, before deciding on a career change and returned to Pontypridd Technical College to study for a BTEC in building studies with civil engineering at levels two and three. He progressed to the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff where he graduated with a BA Hons in Exercise Science in 1988. He subsequently gained an MSc in Exercise Science at University of Loughborough in 1989, a PhD in Human Physiology at University of Glamorgan in 2000 and a Doctorate of Science at the University of West of Scotland in 2013.

Professor Baker’s current research interests include the use of high intensity exercise models in the management of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity and the models have been used extensively in both children and adolescent populations.

He has previously held posts at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff and the University of Glamorgan. Currently the physiologist for the British karate team, he served in the same role for the Welsh Rugby Union’s 2007 Grand Slam winning team.

Speaking at the House of Commons presentation ceremony, as someone whose career has followed an atypical path, Professor Baker used his acceptance speech to highlight the vital role FE plays in “picking up people with talent that [other forms of] education neglect”. 

Alongside Professor Baker, Coleg y Cymoedd nominated Calum Haggett, as a student of notable potential, to receive the Association of Colleges ‘Future Star’ award.  Having grown up in the same area of south Wales Calum cited Professor Baker as a “role model [he feels he] can aspire to emulate" and similarly hopes to enter the field of biomedical science by attaining the A Level grades necessary to fulfil a conditional offer from St Anne’s College, Oxford, to study the subject.

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