The summer period is rapidly disappearing. I do hope staff managed to find time for research, writing and other things in between the sporting events of the last few months. The Euro’s, Tour de France and Olympics seemed to flash by in quick succession and it was especially good to see how well Yorkshire performed in the Olympic medals alongside some fantastic successes for Team GB.
In the forty years that I’ve been following cycling there has never been such a spell of sustained success. It has also been great to welcome a number of international teams to the city and campus for their preparations for both the Olympics and the Paralympics in the last month.
This year has marked the start of the new HE funding regime with fees at £9,000 and this has meant a lot of hard work by staff across the University to try to ensure our recruitment targets are met. The national trend of a generally quieter clearing period than usual has been borne out here and there have been fewer students recruited through the clearing process than normal.
As I mentioned in my recent update, that will mean that we will have a shortfall against our targets and we are currently modelling the likely impact of that change. Given that we are likely to move towards an increasingly ‘open’ market for students it is important that we continue to focus on the quality of our courses (measured by things such as employability or the NSS) in order to be able to recruit the vast majority of our students outside of clearing. We, along with many other universities, have been growing consistently over the last decade or so and, with the national statistics indicating that significant overall growth is unlikely in future years, we should take stock and review our overall numbers.
National Student Survey (NSS)
The results of the NSS have been released to the University. It is pleasing to note that we have continued to improve on most of our metrics reflecting the hard work of staff in improving areas like assessment and feedback, organisation and management of courses and academic support.
Our position in relation to the whole sector has not changed markedly and ‘overall satisfaction’ at 83% is the same as the sector average. More detailed results are available at school level and I would urge you to look at those and at the qualitative comments which will be available shortly so that you can get a good understanding of areas where the performance is good, and those areas of work where we are well behind sector and subject averages.
It has been especially pleasing to see the continued good performance against national benchmarks of a number of subject areas in the University. Chemistry, Sociology and Media Studies have shown substantial improvements this year and areas such as Psychology, Nursing, Marketing, Forensic and Archaeological Sciences have continued to perform well.
The summer is traditionally the busiest time for developments on the campus and a number of projects have progressed rapidly in the last few months. Upgrades to our general teaching areas and some of our labs have been proceeding to schedule. The new Sustainable Enterprise Centre is really taking shape and will look terrific. It will be the focus for much of our developing work on the ‘circular economy’, a way of looking at design ,manufacturing and industrial and business strategies from a whole product life cycle perspective. The Base Leeds City Region, low carbon built environment and infrastructure event, taking place here on campus next week will provide an ideal opportunity to showcase the centre.
The Library project, which has involved creating new windows onto the Amphitheatre, a more user friendly floor layout, new light openings through the roof and an overall enhanced study environment, remains on schedule. There has been a considerable amount of noise in and around the library during the work and I’d like to thank staff affected for their tolerance. It will make a substantial improvement to the library facility for both staff and students and you can track progress online.
You may also have noticed the hall demolitions in front of the library which will allow us to create two much needed multi-use game areas in that space.
People on the move
There have been a number of changes to the senior team over the summer. Pam Bagley has taken over from Shirley Congden as Dean of the School of Health Studies on a two year secondment which will allow Shirley to concentrate fully on her role as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.
Ian Palmer has stepped down as the Dean of the School of Computing Informatics and Media, his replacement has not yet been appointed.
Finally we wish Sarah Dixon, Dean of the School of Management, well as she moves to a new role at the new joint venture Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China.