As students and staff settle in to the new term, I am pleased to report that our recruitment this year has been very buoyant. This is a reflection of our success in securing additional numbers, particularly in STEM subjects, and our continuing efforts to raise the profile and academic reputation of the University. We are continuing to recruit well internationally, whilst our national recruitment pool has also grown and it is encouraging to see a steady growth in postgraduate students.
My thanks to all of you, who worked so hard to recruit, enrol and support our new students and ensure that induction went smoothly. It is always an exciting and challenging time for students and the campus had a real buzz and energy this year as students arrived. I think we can be justly proud of our continuing ability to recruit and support students from such a wide and diverse set of backgrounds and give them the first-class education they deserve. I have worked in (and visited) many different universities in my career, and I always feel both excited and somewhat humbled at the fantastic mix of students that we have here. There is genuinely nowhere else like it in the UK!
I hope that everyone has found time to visit Student Central. After more than a year of renovation the new building looks fantastic and provides the sort of facilities that our students deserve. There was an alumni reunion with myself and Khaled Amdullah from the Students’ Union, showing guests around the building, and I’d like to thank UBU for their input into the design and organisation of the building.
I know that it is being well used throughout the day and I was able to spend some time there last week as part of a ‘job swap’ with Matt Wysocki from the Students’ Union. It was an opportunity to look at what staff do in Student Central and the Library and get a sense of how the area will work. The jobswap also included trying (and failing) to help with student queries in the Library, selling hoodies in the Union Shop and pulling a pint. The latter went well and, when I cease being a VC, I’m told I have a future behind the bar!
When the new Student Village opens next September the 1000-bed accommodation close to Student Central will make the campus a vibrant and busy place throughout the day and night. Coupled with the new School of Health Studies building opening next summer and the very successful Sir Titus Salt Building recently opened at Emm Lane, I hope staff are proud of the transformation we are making at a difficult time for the HE sector.
The research activity of the University is more important than ever to our reputation and our ability to attract good students and staff. The University recently played a major role in the Shanghai Expo 2010, hosting a series of events to demonstrate the work of our Science Bridges programme. The programme, led by Professor Phil Coates, draws on our expertise across Life Sciences and Engineering, in a range of collaborative research programmes with Universities, businesses and public bodies in China. Our strong presence and input in Shanghai will help to strengthen our research activity and reputation. By continuing to work in partnership with other universities, we can ensure that the research activity of staff in Bradford has maximum national and international impact.
Over the next month there are a number of significant announcements due on student tuition fees (the Browne Review) and on overall public spending (the Comprehensive Spending Review). There has been significant debate and discussion about the likely impact on higher education. At a recent meeting of Universities UK that I attended, a range of scenarios were discussed, around both fee recommendations and spending cuts.
Whilst we continue to look at likely scenarios at Bradford, I have been uncomfortable with trying to second guess too closely what is likely to happen. When each of the reviews reports next month we will be looking hard at their implications and I will communicate to you as soon as I sensibly can about the likely implications for us, and how we might respond. I would wish to understand the views of as many members of the University and Council as possible before launching into public pronouncements on what, for me, are issues of both principle and policy that go to the heart of what we do here at Bradford.
The University has been chosen to host two prestigious events. The British Science Festival will bring over 350 of the UK’s top scientists, engineers and commentators to Bradford in September, to discuss the latest developments in science and technology with the public. At the end of November, we will also host the Ellen McArthur Foundation’s TEN+ONE Conference where ten guest lecturers will talk on one key perspective on the transition to a sustainable economy.
The Learner Support Services team have recently launched the new ‘AboutUOB’ mobile service, bringing a wealth of information to student’s mobile phones. It’s a great example of supporting students and communicating with them through channels we know they have ready access to. I look forward to seeing the system develop.
The new Community Partnerships website has been launched. It coincides with the completion of our Community Partnership Strategy which gives an outline of the University’s vision, approach and strategic objectives and commitment to working with local partners.
Congratulations to Daniel Neagu and Mick Ridley, from the Department of Computing, and Jason Gill, Institute of Cancer Therapeutics who have secured £480,624 within the five-year, €7m FP7 HEALTH-2010 Alternative-Testing large scale integrated project COSMOS, co-funded by the European Commission and The European Cosmetics Association. The University of Bradford team will lead the work package for the creation of novel, open toxicological databases, collaborating with 16 research teams from eight EU countries and the United States.
Kambiz Ebrahimi, Andrew Day, Felician Campean, and Byron Mason have been allocated £493,918 as lead participants in a £4m technology strategy board contract for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Technology & Supply Network Development (CO2 reduction through emission optimisation). External partners include Ford Motor Company, Land Rover, Johnson Matthey, ITM Power (Trading), Revolve Technologies, Cambustion, University of Liverpool, and University of Birmingham.
Geraldine Boyle, Dementia Studies and two external partners have secured a research contract worth £16,500 with the Department of Health for the evaluation of Mental Capacity Act Best Interests Decision-Making.
Mei-Na Liao from the School of Management has secured a short knowledge transfer partnership worth £26,600 with Emerald Publishing to develop the company’s strategic marketing ability, extend its knowledge and approach to a diverse product set.
Nick Richie from Social & International Studies has secured a research contract worth £68,374 from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for Nuclear-armed Britain: Getting to Zero. He has also recently been awarded £90,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council to examine “The Political Challenges to ‘devaluing’ nuclear weapons in Britain”.