May update – finance, KT Awards and working with you

I do hope that you had a relaxing break over the Easter period after a very busy start to the year and that the disruption to flights caused by volcanic ash did not spoil too many plans. It has provided an interesting example of the vulnerability of human systems to natural hazards.

This month sees the launch of this new online home for my monthly updates. The site provides me with an opportunity to provide further information for staff in addition to my main monthly update which will continue to be sent via email.

University finances

I have now had the opportunity to talk to staff in schools and directorates about both the current financial outlook and the likely scenarios over the next few years. There remains considerable uncertainty, not least because of the current election, but it is unlikely that universities can avoid significant cuts in public expenditure. We are seeking to respond to these likely scenarios in a measured and reasonable way.

We continue to look at costs and we need to explore whether we can do things differently, where we might cut waste and how we deliver our academic and support services. We want to work in partnership with our staff and trade unions on ways to avoid implementing compulsory redundancies. Our current voluntary scheme is, we believe, as fair and as generous as we can make it.

Alongside our costs we are also focused on where we can secure growth in our income. Research and knowledge transfer work, the development of new part-time and postgraduate courses (which are not restricted by the strong ‘cap’ on any growth) and looking at opportunities for overseas partnerships and delivery are examples of the kind of opportunities I know many of you are exploring. We should be exploring every opportunity to use our skills and expertise to operate in new ways, seek new opportunities and develop new sources for growth. I am very confident we have the staff across the institution to be able to do this.

Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Awards

I was delighted to host the first annual dinner and awards ceremony for staff active in knowledge transfer last week. For a university like Bradford the way in which we work with businesses is very important for our future development and sustainability. This work is very varied ranging from engineers and life scientists developing products and programmes with major companies such as Ford or Smith & Nephew, to the work of social scientists in developing training programmes with groups such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the China Development Bank. Such work, built on the strength of our research, helps enormously in building our reputation for Making Knowledge Work. The event last week, coupled with the awards that were presented, is a way of thanking all those staff who work so hard to develop this area of the University’s work.

Winners Included Hassan Ugail, from the School of Computing, Informatics and Media, who received my Excellence in Knowledge Transfer award for his patent development and formation of University spin-out company, Tangentix Ltd. Andrew Day, from the School of Engineering, Design and Technology received a special award for his long standing record of Knowledge Transfer activity with many businesses notably; Ford Motor Company, BP, Gates Corporation and more recently BAE Systems and Tata Motors.

Click for a full list of winners

Congratulations to all.

Working with you

I know from my larger meetings in schools and Corporate Services, from discussions with staff groups and the trades unions, and from individual conversations and correspondence, that the volume and intensity of some of the pressures that you face can appear daunting, and that morale can sometimes suffer as a result. The changing environment of public finances over the last 12-18 months has created major pressures right across the sector.

Here at Bradford we have, for example, been dealing with issues around voluntary reductions in staffing, internal reorganisations, managing a reduced student intake and working to develop new academic programmes and markets to name but a few. These issues are likely to become ever more important whatever the political complexion of the new government. I am anxious that staff don’t feel swamped by the number and intensity of issues we have to face.

I do recognise, from my meetings with the trade unions, how important good information, discussion and trust is at a time of real challenge. We will work hard to try and ensure staff feel able and willing to contribute to consultation and debate. I would also reiterate the outstanding things the University does in supporting a diverse student body, in working collaboratively with the city and region and in enhancing our national and international academic reputation. I do feel we have much to be proud of. We should not lose sight of those achievements and of the value of the work that you do.

The Wellbeing Group have proposed a week of activities for staff in mid-June and details will appear in Staff Briefing soon. I do hope that as many of you as possible will be able to find a little time out of your very busy work schedule to relax with colleagues and reflect on the positive and valuable community we have at Bradford.

Celebrating success

Well done to Neil McKeown, Maureen Reedle, Neil Currant, John Dermo, Ruth Whitfield and Jak Radice of the Teaching Quality Enhancement Group (TQEG) team who have received professional accreditation as Certified Members of the Association of Learning Technologists (CMALT).

Ruth has also successfully completed the Staff and Educational Development Association’s (SEDA) Supporting Educational Change Professional Qualification Course and will be presented with her certificate at the SEDA annual Spring conference in May.

Congratulations to Professor Arthur Francis on his conferment as an Academician of the Academy of Social Science.

Khurshid Khan in Engineering, Design and Technology has initiated three successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership projects with BAE Systems (Operations) Limited totalling £354,396 to work on various design, manufacture and support systems and services over the next two years.

John Baruch from the Bradford Robotic Telescope Unit in the School of Computing, Informatics and Media has secured three grants totalling over £30,000.  These include work with Astra Zeneca Science Teaching Trust (£19,980) to look at the effectiveness of different methods of teacher training for the development of e-learning in the classroom; £5,000 as part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms project in China, to develop and inspire young people in the UK and China in Maths, IT and Languages and a three year service agreement with the Chemical Industry Education Centre at the University of York which is expected to be worth around £6,000 over three years.

A full list of Research and Knowledge Transfer success can be found at this link: March RKT Bulletin

Well done to all.