A successful ‘Party on the Amp’ marked the traditional end of term for our students and I know that many staff are now busy with marking, arrangements for exam boards and preparations for July’s awards ceremonies. My thanks to everyone for dealing with what can be a very pressured time. I do hope the rewards when you see our students graduate make the effort worthwhile. The Students’ Union’s new Sabbatical officers will be taking over later this month and I wanted to thank the outgoing team and wish the new officers good luck over the next academic year.
re:Centre and the STEM Building
You will have hopefully seen that the STEM Building is now complete and that we are close to the handover of the new Sustainable Enterprise Centre which will become known as the re:Centre, reflecting the role it will play in coordinating and developing our work on sustainability and the new circular economy.
We are planning a formal opening of the building later in the year and are continuing to work closely with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the delivery of a range of business-focused programmes on a global basis. We also hosted a visit by the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Gregory Barker, last month to showcase our work on sustainability and the role of the re:Centre within it.
The new STEM building will provide facilities for incoming school groups across the district as well as providing first class laboratory facilities for students at the University.
We need to continue to focus on the underlying issues we have in relation to our league table position. You will be aware of the continued focus on both our entry tariff for new students and our good honours rates because they significantly depress our position in all of the key league tables that will appear in the next month or so. We have consistently grown our average tariff over the last four years and need to maintain that trajectory. We continue to focus on improving our good honours. That needs to deliver results in the next couple of years if we are to move back up the tables. We have also been actively recruiting more staff over the last six months or so, both to improve our staff-student ratios, and to help in the Research Excellence Framework submission.
My thanks to staff who encouraged students to complete the National Student Survey this year. Our completion rate was at almost exactly the same rate as last year thanks to some great last-minute efforts by staff. We will get summary results in late-August which will also be an important component of our League table position. We have improved the outcomes over the last four or five years but so too have other universities, often at a faster rate. I look forward to seeing the impact of the the improvements in the curriculum and in Learning and Teaching we are bringing in that will improve the student experience.
The HE sector is becoming an increasingly competitive marketplace. Our work with schools and colleges, applicant events, communications through the website and social media, are just some of the vital components of helping us to achieve our recruitment targets.
This year we are delivering an advertising campaign called ‘Be Outstanding’ to aid our recruitment efforts, which you will see appear on outdoor advertising sites in the next few weeks. The campaign uses our own outstanding students and alumni to get across what the University of Bradford has to offer.
Our Open Days are also central to our recruitment efforts and our next events will be taking place on Friday 5, and Saturday 6 July. Open Days are a key part of the decision making process for students and, when surveyed, over 90% of our visitors said that they were more likely to apply to the University following the event. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many staff involved in organising and running these crucial events.
The National Media Museum
Many staff and students will be aware of recent media coverage about the possible funding cuts to the Science Museum Group and the impact this could potentially have on the National Media Museum here in Bradford. Read my thoughts here.
Chair of Council, Paul Jagger, has recently announced that our incoming Vice-Chancellor, Brian Cantor, has agreed to work alongside the senior management team in the period July to September and that Sue Kershaw will be Acting Chief Executive in that period. I hope that this arrangement will allow for a smooth transition. It also means you can get rid of me at the end of June as originally planned! I know that Brian has already met with some staff and has a full diary of meetings over the next few months. He has commented to me how friendly people have been. That is not a surprise to me – if Brian is able to receive the kind of welcome and friendship that I have found in the time I have been here he will be very lucky indeed.
Congratulations to our Head of Finance, Angela Dobrucki who recently received a Yorkshire Rising Stars of the Year Award in the Not for Profit category. Angela received her award at a ceremony in May.
Blackburn’s Precision Polymer Engineering (PPE), who design, develop and produce rubber gaskets and rubber components for industries around the world, has partnered with Ben Whiteside and team in the Centre for Polymer Micro and Nano Technology on a two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project valued at £120,000. The KTP project will develop a new production cell facility for manufacturing ultra-high precision, small and micro-sized elastomeric sealing components.
Victoria Lavis in the School of Social and International Studies has been awarded £650,000 from Economic and Social Research Council for an inquiry in to the response to diversity in three Yorkshire prisons.
Knowledge Transfer Partnership associates Tarik Saneecharaun, Sharon Zhu and Tahereh Ghazaany have been nominated for the prestigious Business Leader of Tomorrow Award. Tarik is working with Watson Smith Ltd of Leeds, part of the Norgren Group and Dr Peter Olley and Professor Andrew Day, in the School of Engineering, Design and Technology. Sharon and Tahereh are working with Datong Plc. and Professor Raed Abd-Alhameed also in the School of Engineering, Design and Technology. The winners of this award will be announced in late July after panel interviews with shortlisted candidates.
Congratulations to all.