I would like to start by thanking all those staff who have been closely involved with what has been a busy exam period for our students. Organising, invigilating and, in particular, marking exams does take up a lot of time and effort and I’m grateful for the supportive and professional way in which this has been done.
At this time of year a range of work is coming to fruition on the estate. The new School of Health Studies (SoHS) building and The Green are on schedule and on budget. Staff will move into the SoHS building in late July and The Green will be fully operational for students in September. Other work to improve teaching areas and vital long-term maintenance is also underway over the summer period. I am also pleased to report that our innovative Combined Heat and Power system on the city campus is now fully operational and delivering significant carbon and energy savings for the University.
The new funding environment
Together with Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) Sue Kershaw, I have been talking with Schools and Corporate Services about the new challenges we face as a result of the major funding changes in the sector. Despite the very significant challenges we face, we are very positive about the ways in which we can continue to strengthen what we do at Bradford in terms of the student experience, our innovative research and the work we do in the community. All are important in ensuring that students continue to be attracted to the University despite the substantial increase in tuition fees from 2012 onwards.
Our discussions have been constructive and have served to emphasise that much of the response to those challenges is in our own hands. We are looking hard at both the student and staff experience at Bradford and fully recognise that the two are closely connected. We want to ensure that the University is a good place to work for staff and our staff group meetings are identifying things we could do to improve how we work and how to better support all our staff.
One of the issues that has recurred in these meetings has been league tables and the way in which the position of the University has slipped. The major league tables are varied in what they measure. They are all imperfect and HEFCE itself acknowledges the dangers inherent in their use. But they are a public measure of some aspects of performance and therefore cannot be ignored.
Whilst some of the measures used in the tables do reflect long-term trends in, for example, spend per student or research performance (which remains based on our 2008 Assessment) others directly reflect the everyday experience students have in lectures and seminars, the support services provided and on campus facilities. This applies both to the general tables and to the individual subject tables that underpin them.
The National Student Survey remains a key data source for the league tables and, whilst we are improving, other universities are improving at a faster rate. I would ask staff to take a little time to understand what the league tables are telling us and how we can directly impact on them through the way in which we work with our students. There is a brief guide to the tables here
British Science Festival
I’d like to remind all that the British Science Festival will be at the University from 10-15 September. Our staff have put in a great deal of work to create an exciting and innovative programme which will be a showcase for the University. I’d urge you to have a look at the programme and pencil in as many events as you can. Visit the University’s British Science Festival website for the latest information on plans for the event.
University of Bradford in the news
Research revealed last month that at least five of the medieval people, whose skeletons were discovered at Stirling Castle, suffered brutally violent deaths. The discoveries were made after a number of investigations including ones from the University of Bradford. After this, Dr Buckberry and team created a model of one of the skeletons using a traditional clay modelling approach. The story received a lot of national media attention and coverage including The Independent, Scotsman and BBC TV.
Whilst in Zurich at the International Security Forum, Professor Paul Rogers spoke to World Radio Switzerland about how Al-Qaeda’s future success depends on whether Arab Spring movements succeed in bringing democracy to countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Jonathan Fletcher, a senior lecturer in microbiology at the University was featured in the New York Times offering his expert opinion on the recent E.Coli outbreak.
A recent letter in the times by Leon Smith, Chief Executive of Nightingale Care Home, referred to the training that all members of his staff have receiving, based on the latest research from Bradford Dementia Group (BDG) in the School of Health Studies. Paul Edwards from BDG also recently filmed an interview for a programme on Dementia by Channel 4.
Tom Gallagher, Professor of the Study of Ethnic Conflict and Peace at Bradford University, joined other experts to explore the reasons for this apparent upsurge in sectarian violence in Scottish football for a Guardian Podcast
As part of the promotion for the forthcoming British Science Festival, the Telegraph and Argus are publishing a weekly ‘Sciences Matters’ piece, previewing events and highlighting the work of many of our academics.
The recently completed Emm Lane Project at the School of Management has won an award in the sustainability category of the RICS Pro-Yorkshire Awards 2011. The prestigious property-based contest celebrates inspirational initiatives in the land, property and construction sectors. From an entry of 69 projects from all over Yorkshire and Humberside, 56 short-listed schemes were hoping to win one of the eight coveted RICS category trophies.
Research Centre in focus
The Centre for Managerial Excellence is being officially launched at an event on 30 June. The guest speaker will be Aleem Sheikh, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, BP and his talk is entitled ‘A Perspective on Sustainable Business – China’s Energy Future and the World’. The Centre, based in the School of Management currently has four priority themes; Entrepreneurship and Innovation, led by Prof Christos Kalantaridis; Strategic Adaptation, led by Dr Sarah Dixon and Dr David Spicer; Leadership and Talent Management, led by Centre Director Professor Jackie Ford and Professor Nancy Harding and Finance, led by Prof Mark Freeman. The centre works across the public, private and third sectors and has already undertaken work funded by the NHS, a local authority and the International Centre for Pension Management. Knowledge Exchange is core to centre activity and we will work closely with individual organizations and students, including those undertaking a DBA in the Centre, and the wider local community.
Caroline Hick, Fellow in Visual Arts is co-investigator on a successful 12 month ESRC ‘Follow-on-Project’. The University will receive £25,658 for a project entitled “Developing Aesthetic of Dementia Activism: Using art to mediate agency” The project will create a touring and online exhibition about people with dementia who campaign for social change, with a view to challenging negative stereotypes and transforming public attitudes. The exhibition content will take inspiration from Ruth Bartlett’s previously funded ESRC First Investigator award, entitled, “ Campaigning for Social Change: Understanding the motives and experiences of people with dementia” The Principal Investigator for this Project, Ruth Bartlett, formerly from the School of Health Studies, will be coordinating the project from her new post at the University of Southampton.
Fun Hu and Prashant Pillia from Engineering Design and Technology, and Pauline Chan from Computing, Informatics and Media have secured funding worth £57,497 for CASASAGRAS2,an FP7 Coordination and Support Action, funded under the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) programme. It is an international network comprising 16 partners.
Anant Paradkar, Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering, Roger Phillips, Institute of Cancer Therapeutics and Jo Neill, Pharmacy have received £46,184 from Changzhou People’s Hospital for research into a nanoparticulate curcumin system with enhancers from traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of Alzheimers disease.
Simon Tait, Liz Sharp and Kirill Horoshenkov from the Centre for Sustainable Environments have received a £417,179 platform grant renewal from EPSRC for Pennine Water Group (PWG): Urban Water Systems for a Changing World.
Des Tobin, Centre for Skin Sciences, has accepted an invitation to join a small group of senior academics and dermatologists across Europe on the Alliance Boots Skin Advisor Panel. This reflects the success of the Centre for Skin Sciences in building its relationship with Boots after securing three pigmentation projects so far this year.
Andrew Wilson, Jo Buckberry and Chris Gaffney, Archaeological Sciences, and Hassan Ugail, Centre for Visual Computing have received a £93,199 grant for a collaboration backed by a distinguished panel of experts from JISC entitled ‘From Cemetery to Clinic’: Digitised pathological data from archaeological leprous skeletons.