Despite it being a short month it seems to have been a very busy one for staff and students. Even after nearly three years in West Yorkshire I still find the weather a challenge and it seems to have been a longer winter than usual!
Whilst many of us have been disrupted by the changes to the roads around campus I hope you will agree that the developments now beginning around the estate are an important sign that, despite the difficult climate for public expenditure, we are confident in investing in the future of the University. Work on the Sustainable Student Village has now begun and, before long, the development of our Sustainable Enterprise Centre and the new facilities for the School of Health will be underway. The Students’ Union members are currently voting on a new name for the Communal Building, which is scheduled to be open in time for the new academic year. It will provide a much needed boost to the facilities we can offer our students.
Developing our fundraising
For the last couple of years we have been busy developing our alumni links and our databases with the intention of embarking on major fundraising initiatives. The first of these began last week with the launch of The Braduate Fund, a project to raise donations for three areas: Scholarships/Hardship Fund, Student Resources/Student Life, or an unrestricted gift, which will allow the University to use the money wherever the need is greatest. Using our students, employed through JobShop, we have combined a postal and telephone campaign to begin to raise funds for this initiative.
Scholarships for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, from countries torn by civil strife and for people who have contributed to the local community are examples of the kinds of awards that we hope The Braduate Fund will be able to provide. Under the Matched Funding scheme, and with current Gift Aid legislation, we are able to almost double the value of our donations. We hope to be able to develop our fundraising capacity in the future in order to help sustain a number of other projects for the University.
Whilst the current economic conditions are challenging it has been especially heartening to get a sense of the esteem in which the University is held by so many people. It is the hard work and commitment of our staff that is at the root of that sense of value.
The University in the wider world
I am grateful to many colleagues across the University whose external work continues to reflect positively on the work we do here in Bradford. At a local level the work of members of staff as school governors, as representatives on a range of representative boards or in a voluntary capacity in many sporting, social and cultural groups are really positive signs of how engaged we are as a community in the work of the district. At a national and international level as well, many staff serve as experts or work with external bodies taking with them a commitment and an expertise which contributes much to the standing of the University.
In the work I do outside the institution it is always heartening to get a sense of how our work is perceived. This month, for example, I have represented both Bradford, and the Higher Education sector more generally, at meetings of groups such as Business in the Community, the regional Sustainable Development Board and a Universities UK group looking at how to protect free speech on campuses. These meetings demonstrate to me how hard colleagues work in external partnerships to develop the work of the University.
My work as a commissioner for the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and a representative on two British Council funding bodies also gives me a privileged position to understand the importance of international links for any university and the exceptionally strong tradition of work in this area that our University has. It is that combination of local commitment coupled with an international reach that makes Bradford such an inspirational and interesting place to work.
This month has seen the official opening of the £1m state-of-the-art Clinical Skills Suite by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, Dr Keith Ridge. The suite provides a range of environments for students, allowing them to contextualise their learning in different clinical settings.
It has been a very exciting month in building on our reputation for high quality work in research and knowledge transfer. Two events in particular demonstrate the strength of our work. The launch of Science Bridges with China at the Royal Society in London at the beginning of the month was led by Professor Phil Coates and involved a range of research and innovation programmes, involving the work of Bradford academics with 11 leading Chinese institutions in the public and private sector. As the largest ‘Bridge’ programme funded by the research councils to date, it demonstrates the strength of the research work in a range of disciplines and its important commercial applications.
A second event was the launch of new National Guidelines for Dementia Care Mapping in which the University of Bradford played a pivotal role. It was an excellent example of how research into dementia can be used to inform practice, with the aim of making fundamental improvements in the treatment of dementia.
Finally, my congratulations to Andrew Wilson and Andy Gledhill in Archaeology for a cover-page story in Nature recently. To have research by Bradford academics featuring on the front page of the foremost science journal in the world is a major achievement.
My thanks too to all those who have worked hard to ensure the continuing strength of research and knowledge transfer in the University.