Professor Zahir Irani Update: Academic, Innovation and Quality 2020/21


Smiling Man in Smart Suit

Professor Zahir Irani Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic, Innovation and Quality)

I am delighted to share with you an update and some of the highlights from the past 12 months, and to outline how we will continue to rise to the challenges of the pandemic. The senior management team at the University was quick to organise itself early in 2020 as we saw the far-reaching potential of the pandemic, working hard to ensure that all our decisions were principles-driven, in the interest of our students, staff, community and, in line with Government advice.

We worked closely with the Students Union to develop a revised ‘student offer’ in readiness for the 2020/21 academic year, which was a blended offer allowing the curriculum to pivot on-and-off campus, depending on changes in Government guidelines. It was very rewarding to see all our colleagues at the University working extremely hard to ensure that our learning and teaching and, academic provision maintains the highest quality and standards, giving students the best possible opportunities to succeed.

Recently, our Triple Crown School of Management became the first business school in England to receive joint accreditation from the Association of MBAs and the Business Graduates Association (BGA), two of the world’s leading authorities on business education and, we have also joined a prestigious group of universities by gaining accreditation from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Last year we were awarded £700,000 from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Office of Artificial Intelligence and, Office for Students to deliver a new MSc programme that has been specifically designed in response to the shortage of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics specialists in the UK. This programme began in September and will be able to offer 60 scholarships over three years to students from disadvantaged communities, with these students also undertaking a paid placement as part of the course. I am pleased to report that this programme was the top recruiting programme in September and, again in January 2020 with a combined enrolment over both intakes approaching 90 home and international students.


We know this has been a difficult time for many people, not least those that have recently been made redundant. In response, we have reduced the cost of a Postgraduate Master’s degree by 20% to anyone in the UK affected by redundancy. Part of our long-term strategic aims include benefiting the wider community and economy, with this scheme doing just that, offering world-class teaching at a substantial discount to those in need. There are other discounts available for our alumni including a 20% discount for Postgraduate study for the graduating class of 2020. There are a larger number of January start programmes, many with flexible study options for more details please go to our website.

The University remains committed to being a civic University, with many of our staff holding roles as School Governors through to Board level positions. One way I am personally helping with our recovery from COVID-19 is as Chair of the Bradford Economic Recovery Board, where along with leading representatives from businesses and community groups, the economic recovery strategy was unanimously supported by elected officials at the January 2020 meeting of the Bradford Metropolitan Council Assembly. Further details are available from a recent Bradford Means Business Interview with the Economic Recovery Strategy being launched in February. We have a great entrepreneurial spirit in Bradford, evidenced in a recent survey that placed Bradford as the second most entrepreneurial City in the UK. We are continuing to find creative ways to help small, medium and large companies and, all our communities take advantage of new opportunities in the future.

The University recently kick-started the development of our Enabling International Strategy that will intersect with all of our four University strategies. Our new enabling strategy will encompass but not be limited to:
• Partnership models (including modes of delivery) and development.
• Internationalization of the staff and student experience.
• Aspects of curriculum development.
• International research and collaborations.
• Diverse and international staff and students and international alumni.
• Student recruitment.

December 2020 saw the first kicking-off meeting that was the launch of a number of co-creation workshops to develop what will become a distinctive, enabling International Strategy ready for launch in Spring 2021.

We will continue to work hard to rise to the new challenges we face in 2021 and beyond. We are investing in market insight to ensure our courses remain innovative and relevant to the global marketplace, we will bring all we can to local and international partnerships that will create new opportunities and we hope you, as our valued alumni can continue to support us whether that’s by offering student and graduate placements, contributing to the curriculum, offering expert insight or by supporting our scholarship programmes and campaigns. We hope that you will continue to be proud that you chose to study with us and that you are member of our international alumni community.

This has been just a taste of our achievements and plans for the future, but if you want to know more or want to get involved then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the alumni engagement team.

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