Bath AUA

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Tagged: Sector Issues

Getting out there

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📥  AUA Conference

Author: Rosie Hart, Programmes Officer - Faculty of Engineering and Design

So, next week I’m off to Manchester for my third AUA annual conference. Whilst this makes me feel slightly apprehensive, I have learned that forcing myself out of my comfort zone is good for me as a functioning human.

I attended my first regional conference at Cardiff in February which was one fairly intensive day, but with each session both interesting and relevant (a somewhat rare treat), it was a really positive experience.

I originally intended this blog post to be a review of my day at the regional conference but as it’s taken a while to get around to writing this (whoops!) I feel it is not quite as pertinent anymore and probably not as valid to others anyhow. Instead I want to focus on what I gain from going to talks, presentations or conferences in general.

Sharing and feeling part of something bigger

jigsaw
This is a big one for me. It’s good to share your knowledge; good for you and good for others. By sharing you learn and you contribute.
It can be reassuring to find out that others beyond your direct circle are working on the same issues and trying to overcome similar frustrations, sometimes even with success! We don’t all need to work independently trying to crack the same issues, we can share out knowledge and learn from others experience.

It also helps you to have time away from your role to think about what it is you want to achieve. In some instances you may even meet positive role models who inspire. I like to feel part of a team. I also like to feel part of a Faculty, a University, an education system/ network. To me this is comforting and positive.

Surprise learning

I consider myself to be healthily sceptical; whilst slightly dubious about how valuable a talk or event is going to be I anticipate that I will take away at least one piece of useful information. I have been to talks or workshops where I had high expectations and left feeling underwhelmed. I have also been surprised by talks which I have thought would be really dry or a reiteration of something I already know but have turned out to be witty or enlightening. Presentations are given by humans, these humans may be natural or highly trained speakers or they may be presenting for the first time, they are a mixed bag. What is clear to me is that if you don’t attend anything, you miss the opportunity to find out something new.

Making contacts

When I see ‘Networking session’ on an agenda, a shudder goes down my spine and I start to think about how I might be able to get out of that bit. For an awkward British person networking is an entirely unnatural process. However I do find that the more I go, the less alien it feels.

Ant network_02It does help to meet people outside your team to gain fresh perspective and support. You may find at some point, when you are struggling to think of a way to solve a problem, that you call on your contacts to bounce ideas off one another.

Don’t feel you have to go it alone, if it makes you feel better to walk in with someone you know, then why not? It can be a lot less intimidating.

Gaining confidence naturally

When you're feeling shy it’s hard to put yourself out there and to do something outside of your comfort zone. But gaining knowledge and achieving new things makes you feel stronger in your decisions and spurs you on to give things a go. With each success you become more confident. It takes time- more for some than others and you have to do it in your own style but keep at it, it’s good for you.

 

Seeing the big picture: attending an AUA conference

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📥  AUA Conference

Author: Alison Ryan, Faculty Coordinator - Faculty of Engineering and Design

On Friday 3 February I attended the AUA South Wales and South West Conference 2017 in Cardiff. Having never attended an AUA conference before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was really looking forward to finding out.

Chance to network

After an early start and a train journey followed by a bracing walk from Cardiff Central Station, we arrived at the Park Plaza hotel in good time for a much needed coffee and a pastry, or two! There was a good turn out from Bath as well as attendees from the Universities of Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Gloucestershire to name a few. This was a great opportunity to meet people from other universities.

The big picture

Our very own Angela Pater, also the AUA Regional Network Coordinator, opened the conference with a warm welcome and introduced the first speakers, Victoria Holbrook from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Lisa Newberry from Universities Wales.

Victoria and Lisa discussed the future HE landscape, providing external perspectives of upcoming major changes and opportunities. Victoria explained that HEFCE would be replaced by the Office for Students (OfS) in 2018 and the OfS would also have a new focus as the single market regulator for HE. The opening talks were really informative and I particularly enjoyed learning more about the big picture of HE.

Doing the privilege walk

There were a range of workshops to choose from and for the morning session, I picked ‘Ensuring Inclusive Education’ run by Fflur Elin, the NUS Wales President. This thought-provoking workshop gave us a different perspective of how social situations and conventions could affect students in a variety of ways.

Fflur was a brilliant facilitator and had us up on our feet participating in the ‘privilege walk’, which was an activity designed to visually show how students could either benefit from, or be held back by, certain characteristics or situations (such as their gender or needing to work part time). We were each given a list of different characteristics and stood next to each other in a long line. We then took steps forwards or backwards, depending on the persona we had been given.

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Fflur Elin, NUS Wales President.

Inspirational speakers

There were many inspiring speakers and although I can’t talk about them all here, I will briefly mention one. In the afternoon, Steve Egan did Bath proud and delivered a very engaging talk about his journey to his current role at Bath, Vice-President (Implementation). Steve’s talk was very well received and included many amusing but also inspiring anecdotes about his career so far.

So when’s the next one?

I really enjoyed the day; it was an interesting and valuable experience and I would definitely like to attend future conferences. It was a great opportunity to gain a broader understanding of HE, listen to a variety of talks and to meet other people working in the sector. If you get the chance to attend an AUA conference or event, sign up now!

 

AUA Talks University Priorities - Professor Bernie Morley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

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📥  AUA Talks

Author: Rachel Acres, Assistant Registrar, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Morley began by outlining the breadth and diversity of his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, which included responsibility for education, research, staffing, and of course, that perennial issue - car parking. His main focus was on delivering the University Strategy, and challenging the Deans (who he line-managed) to ensure all Departments had their own strategies, including a clear plan for academic staff recruitment for the next five years.

Student number planning and target setting was a core part of Professor Morley’s job, ensuring that the number of offers and conversion to places was spot on, which always made the summer a nerve-racking time. Supporting teaching and research through ensuring appropriate infrastructure is the other main tenet of the role of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost.
Professor Morley reported that the University is facing a number of external pressures which mean that our previous working assumptions may not be true in the future.

Professor Morley highlighted the five key priorities for the University, as laid out in the University Strategy 2016-21:

• Growth of research – the University would prioritise areas of investment increasingly based on returns and the ability to support other areas, e.g. allowing us to continue to offer expensive subjects such as Chemistry. Four years of fixed student fee income with rising costs meant the Senior Management needs to focus on ensuring financial stability.

• Stabilise undergraduate numbers – there is increasing competition as other institutions are offering more places, and moreover the opportunity for placements (a previously unique selling point – USP – for Bath). Changes to GCSE and A Levels may necessitate revised entry requirements and could result in a dip in applications for those programmes requiring A Level Mathematics (which is supposed to be more difficult in its new form). A demographic dip in the number of young people means less people entering Higher Education, at least for the next few years – apparently, there is a boom in primary aged children but for example, the city of Bath has 600 unfilled sixth form spaces. Opportunities for involvement in Degree Apprenticeships would be explored. The University needs to ensure its programmes are as up to date and innovative as possible, supported by effective marketing (e.g. more Open Days, more mobile friendly platforms to showcase our programmes and maintain market advantage).

• Postgraduate Growth – compared to other research intensive institutions, the University had relatively small postgraduate taught student numbers. A number of new postgraduate taught programmes had been fast-tracked through University approval procedures to recruit students for 2017/18, and Professor Morley emphasised that the institution needed to view postgraduate provision differently. Masters programmes needed to attract higher numbers of students, delivering a package of skills and cross-disciplinary learning. Providing distance-learning programmes with partners (including internationally) was being considered. Professional Services would need to be involved in supporting this growth and ensuring the development of staff to meet the new challenges facing the institution.

• Infrastructure – Professor Morley highlighted recent successful developments such as 10 West, 4 East South, Manvers Street, and noted Polden Court would be developed to provide new postgraduate accommodation in the next year

• International focus – the University needed to affirm its international influence and become more visible.

In closing, Professor Morley highlighted that there were a number of external influences, including changes to secondary level education, the need to comply with consumer legislation and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance, the introduction of the Higher Education and Research Bill and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), and the evolving Widening Participation agenda which would all impact on University business and were being closely monitored.

 

AUA Talks University priorities: The Centre for Learning and Teaching – Professor Andrew Heath (Academic Director)

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📥  AUA Talks

Author: Jenny Medland, Student Experience Office, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

What attributes should a graduate leave the University of Bath with? How can we respond to the challenges Brexit or changes to A-levels pose to student recruitment, or to the opportunities of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)? How can we integrate effective and efficient technologies for learning? These are the type of questions the new Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) will be looking at, and at this AUA event its Academic Director Professor Andrew Heath outlined its remit and initial plans.

The session began by establishing the CLT’s role in securing the future success of the University of Bath: a strong learning experience supports student satisfaction, student satisfaction aids recruitment of strong students, robust recruitment protects the University’s income and elite reputation. The changing nature of the HE landscape – with Brexit, TEF, and general economic uncertainty to name but a few challenges – makes it particularly important that Bath can respond proactively and capitalise on potential opportunities. The CLT will help equip Bath to meet these changes by ensuring the highest levels of learning and teaching across the institution.

More practically, to achieve its aims the CLT will provide proactive support for key learning and teaching activities such as TEF, and work more widely on the development and improvement of learning experience provide by Bath. There are four main areas within the centre:

- Academic Staff Development
- Technology Enhanced Learning
- Student Engagement
- Curriculum Development

In a fifty minute session Andrew could only provide a brief overview of his priorities for each area, but it gave a useful insight into plans. Academic Staff Development will be focusing on increasing the number of staff across the institution with formal teaching qualifications, an area of increasing importance as this will be publically available and will most likely be reported in league tables in the future. Technology Enhanced Learning will be delivering on a University-wide strategy ensuring that development activities and technological investment are effective and aligned with strategic priorities. Student Engagement will be identifying opportunities for students to actively contribute to the development of their programmes. And, last but not least, CLT will support Curriculum Development through working with departments to review and develop their programmes through TraCA (Transforming Curricula and Assessment), largely replacing the current degree scheme reviews. This latter work with focus particularly on aligning our curricula for both technical content and academic skills with the desired attributes for graduates on particular programmes, reducing overassessment of students and work to develop and implement more creative ways of teaching and assessing student progress.

The CLT will aim to work in close partnership with academic departments and other services, providing coordinated central support and guidance whilst still ensuring departments have ownership of their programmes, curriculum, and academic priorities. You can find out more through their website: http://www.bath.ac.uk/learningandteaching/about/index.html

 

AUA Talks Sector Issues: CMA and Immigration

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📥  AUA Talks

Author: Sally Lewis, Placements Officer, Faculty of Science

The first AUA talk of this year was given by Mark Humphriss, the University Secretary, who gave a very informative insight into the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and immigration - two of the significant issues facing universities today.

Mark began his talk with a brief career history, explaining how his move into higher education at Bath 10 years ago followed 17 years working in a number of roles for the Church of England, including leading a major review of the structures of the Church and working for a national charity and a secondment in the North East. It was through his role managing relationships with the 11 universities of Church of England foundation that he began to have contact with universities and recognised the similarities between the two sectors – both having similar policy issues and working cultures.

Commenting on his move into a new sector, he noted how helpful he found his professional association (the AHUA – the Association of Heads of University Administration) in connecting him with others in HE and enabling him to gain an understanding of the working culture.

In his current role, Mark is part of the senior management of the University - part of the Vice- Chancellor’s Group (VCG) - and has a number of University-wide roles, including chairing the Equality and Diversity Committee and the Emergency Management Team – which has to deal with anything from heavy snow falls on Claverton Down to a field trip stuck in Honduras. On a departmental level, his responsibilities include the Secretariat, the Legal Office and student immigration. Reputation management is a big part of his role and responding to a question about Freedom of Information (FoI), he described the tension between the desire of universities to be open in how they respond to FoI requests and the way in which information once in the public domain, can be used to cause less favourable impressions of those organisations.

Responsibility for events such as degree ceremonies and the operational side of the recent 50th Anniversary celebration also fall under Mark’s remit as does managing the relationship with the Chancellor, which with our current Chancellor, means working within royal protocols as well. The Government’s counter-terrorism Prevent strategy has involved Mark in some interesting and robust discussions with the UCU and the Students’ Union when negotiating policies for external speakers.
Externally, Mark is part of the National Executive of the AHUA and has previously chaired its southern region. He is a Governor of the RUH, a Director of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator and a Trustee of the Holburne Museum.

Moving on to discuss the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Mark explained that in the last few years the CMA (formerly the Office of Fair Trading) has begun to focus on the practices of higher education institutions and concluded that the university sector was perceived to have too much freedom from consumer regulations, with some institutions levying academic sanctions (such as withholding degree confirmation) for non-academic matters (such as the non-payment of rent) for example.

The CMA has concluded that students (paying £9,000 a year in tuition fees) should be regarded as consumers for the purpose of consumer legislation. This has had a number of far reaching consequences for universities – a number of whom have been publicly named as falling short of CMA legislation. Here at Bath, Mark chairs the Consumer Regulation Steering Group and much work has been done - with Terms and Conditions now being sent to every offer holder and trying to ensure that all information provided on (our over 100,000) web pages and at Open Days, will remain valid throughout the duration of a course. This may involve more generic and less detailed information being in the public domain with students receiving more detailed information about courses once here. He noted that there can be a tension between the desire for transparency and the desire to innovate and progress with course development. Failure to comply with CMA legislation can have financial penalties although the reputational damage of such failure would potentially be more detrimental.

Mark concluded his talk by discussing the significant consequences for universities of the current political agenda around immigration. Attendance monitoring of students holding Tier 4 visas is a mandatory requirement for universities. Failure to meet requirements can lead to a university losing its license to sponsor visas – resulting in the institution not being able to recruit international students and its current students having to leave the country, a huge impact for any institution. At Bath the increase in processes and resource needed to fulfil this requirement has led to the recent establishment of the Student Immigration Service of 13 staff. Universities also have to operate in an environment where rule changes have been brought into force with little or no notice or consultation with the sector. This was illustrated in April this year, where changes resulted in those students extending their course - to undertake a placement, for example - having to return to their home countries at short notice to extend their visas. As well as concerns for students, Mark also noted concerns for the implications of changes on international staff.

… and with that our time was up. Many thanks to Mark for his time and for this glimpse into the working life of our University Secretary.

 

Sign up to the AUA talks for 2016/17

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📥  AUA Talks

mark-of-excellence

Colleagues across the University -AUA members AND non-members alike- are warmly invited to attend all AUA talks this year

AUA Bath members have identified three themes for this coming year, our sessions will cover:

• Sector issues
• University priorities
• Career progression

A list of sessions booked so far are below with sign up details to attend:

23 November 2016: CMA and Immigration – Mr Mark Humphriss (University Secretary)
http://www.bath.ac.uk/whats-on/getevent.php?currDay=23&currMonth=11&currYear=2016

29 November 2016: Students’ Union Top Ten – Miss Amy Young (Representation & Engagement Manager) & Miss Lucy Woodcock (SU President)
http://www.bath.ac.uk/whats-on/getevent.php?currDay=29&currMonth=11&currYear=2016

5 December 2016: The Centre for Learning and Teaching – Professor Andrew Heath (Academic Director)
http://www.bath.ac.uk/whats-on/getevent.php?currDay=5&currMonth=12&currYear=2016

11 January 2017: Strategy & planning - Professor Bernie Morley (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost)
http://www.bath.ac.uk/whats-on/getevent.php?currDay=11&currMonth=1&currYear=2017

Please sign up, come along and engage with the future.

Further details on the AUA and local activity here at Bath (including our new membership deal) can be found by clicking on the following links:

http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/aua/

http://www.aua.ac.uk/

Or follow us on Twitter: @AUA_Bath OR #AUABath

 

Bath AUA Membership deal - why you should sign up

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📥  Members

mark-of-excellence

The AUA is committed to helping you succeed in your career. Our Bath Membership Scheme supports your career by recognising that you are dedicated to improving yourself and others.

Top 5 reasons to join the AUA:

....through Branch activities at Bath - learn more about this University

....getting to know colleagues at Bath from other departments

....attending national events is great way to keep in touch with professionals like you

....supporting your development, providing you with a wealth of tools and resources

....solving problems, keeping informed and networking

What you get if you join the AUA and who is it for:

AUA exists for our members. We offer support to help you enhance your career, boost your job prospects and create valuable networking opportunities. AUA membership empowers you to take control of developing your career whatever stage it is at.

Bath Membership Scheme:

The University supports the AUA and has purchased the bulk membership opportunity from the AUA, allowing you to sign up through the Branch Advocate for a discounted membership paid for by salary deduction.

Through the Bath scheme all members of staff who wish to join the AUA are entitled to the membership at the discounted costs below:

Subscription type:
Monthly Salary Deduction -  £5.07
Single annual payment - £60.80

Membership not through this scheme costs up to £10.80 per month/£143 annual payment

If you wish to join email your local Branch Advocate for further details  -  aua@bath.ac.uk