The last month has been a challenging one as we review our financial position having received our grant letter for 2011-12 and, more importantly, improved our understanding of the likely budget changes over the next two to three years. University Council will be discussing our tuition fee levels for 2012-13 at length in mid April and this has been a subject of discussions in a number of other meetings including School Boards and Senate. It will also be explored at a Staff Assembly meeting on April 13.
It will be a difficult decision because of a concern I (and I suspect many of you) have about the high cost of a university education. We need to balance the need for a strong, sustainable University, with funds to invest in our teaching and research, against putting off many potential students from coming to university because of the likely levels of debt. I welcome the discussions I have been able to have with staff and students on this issue and hope that we can reflect these at our forthcoming Council meeting. Wherever we set our fees we will need to ensure we have strong mechanisms in place to support the diverse range of students we currently welcome to the University.
I was delighted to attend the first ever Student Awards event recently. This event celebrated the contribution of teaching and support staff to supporting students and was organised entirely by the Students’ Union. There were 14 nominations for teaching awards, all nominated by students, and a number of other awards to support staff. I’d like to congratulate all those staff who were nominated for awards for such exceptional service and a big thank you to all the students and the sabbatical team who worked so hard to make the evening such a success. The music, video presentations and food made for a really enjoyable evening.
A full list of winners is included below in ‘Celebrating Success’.
Research and Knowledge Transfer
There is a showcase event to highlight the research and knowledge transfer (RKT) activity of the University on April 13 and I hope as many of you as possible will be able to view the work. At senate last week we spent some considerable time discussing the importance of our RKT work. There are significant financial challenges in supporting this work particularly given the reduction of research funding from HEFCE announced in the grant letter and the increasing trend towards research concentration in fewer and fewer universities.
Research is vitally important to academic staff, it helps to enhance the reputation of the University and can greatly enhance the student experience and we are proud to have world class research and researchers at Bradford. But keeping that research and growing it sustainably will be one of our big challenges over the next few years and I know that the work being done for the ‘mock’ Research Excellence Framework within Schools is highlighting both our strengths and the challenges we face. Continuing success at generating research council and other external funding has never been more important.
Progress on our major estate projects continues apace. It has been remarkable to see the speed with which The Green, our new student village, is developing and those of you who have seen the apartments and townhouses will testify to the quality of the facility. The environmental rating for the building continues to be outstanding and the reaction from our potential students has been really positive.
In addition the School of Health Studies building is progressing on schedule and we are currently planning for major improvements to create new flat-bed teaching spaces in Chesham which will allow us to be more innovative and creative in the way we configure our large teaching areas. Our low-carbon strategy continues to lead the sector and we are genuinely being seen as a beacon of good practice both nationally and internationally.
The RKT Centre for Polymer Micro and Nano Technology is a facility within the University’s world class Polymer IRC laboratory. This Centre allows access to equipment and expertise required for companies of all sizes to develop a successful micromoulding or nano-scale surface feature moulding process. Three new staff were appointed in the autumn, which has allowed the centre to progress significantly in the last six months. The centre has eight live industrial projects ongoing with an income in excess of £100,000, one of which has resulted in the centre receiving a prestigious US-based Medical Device Excellence Award. They have had three successful research grant bids awarded with a total value of over £700,000. This includes a project (worth £518k) working in collaboration between the RKT Centres for Polymer MNT and Visual Computing within the University, (led by Dr John Sweeney, with Dr Ben Whiteside and Prof Hassan Ugail as co-investigators) and the Manufacturing Excellence Centre based at Cardiff University.
Congratulations to the commercial services team who have secured £260,000 in National Lottery funding from Sport England for the Active Bradford project. Active Bradford will offer joint sporting opportunities for students at both the University of Bradford and Bradford College. A variety of innovative programmes, including ‘Street Sports’, will encourage more people to get involved in a wide range of individual and team sports. The University and college are targeting 2,080 new participants over the three years of the project.
Theatre in the Mill has been awarded a 95 per cent increase in its funding from Arts Council England from 2012 to 2015 as part of the new National Portfolio funding scheme. With no arts faculty at the University, I am very proud that we have three fantastic art venues on campus that produce work of such high standard. These venues add great value to the diverse student experience that the University offers.
Pete Twigg, Engineering, Design and Technology, has received a research grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering worth £8,017 for ‘Integrated work-based learning in clinical engineering’.
Jo Neill in Pharmacy is working with a leading Japanese pharmaceutical company on a contract worth £130,000 to test novel compounds, with a European pharmaceutical company on a contract worth £10,000 to carry out behavioural and cognitive studies on test compounds, and with an American pharmaceutical company on a contract worth £12,500 to research the effects of novel compounds on b-neuro’s validated behavioural models. B-neuro are also undertaking collaborative research with a leading American company in the form of a joint PhD studentship worth £40,000.
Mark Van Hoorebeek in the School of Management has been successfully awarded brOME OERP Funding of £1,000 by the Higher Education Academy.
Owen Greene in Peace Studies has received a research grant worth £19,966 from Saferworld for ‘Assessing States conflict prevention performance’.
Finally the winners of the UBU Student awards were:
Teaching Excellence Awards:
- Dr Caroline O’Brien for the Management of people with cardiovascular respiratory conditions module, School of Health Studies.
- Dr Liz Carpenter for the Renal System and other modules, School of Life Sciences.
- Dr Alex Gibson for Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain module and placements, School of Life Sciences.
UBU Partnership Awards:
- Graham Hill, Director of IT Services and Chair of UBU Shadow Trustee Board
- Alison Carass, Academic Development Unit, and Amanda Hughes, Offices of the Vice-Chancellor
- Sara Marsh, Director of Student Support Services, and Priscilla Preston, Head of Library Customer Services
- Sue Baker, International Students Advisor
- Becka Colley, Dean of Students
Congratulations to all.