Preview: VC's Report to Senate - 3 Jun 2015

Posted in: On campus

The purpose of the report is to update Senate with recent developments which affect the University.

1. Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015

The Prevent Duty was approved by both Houses of Parliament in late March. However, it did not prove possible for the Coalition partners to agree on how to handle provisions in it relating to visiting speakers on university campuses. These provisions will therefore only be introduced now that the Election has taken place. This may cause a delay in the implementation date of the new provisions for universities, which was intended to be 1 July 2015.

2. Senior Appointments

Council has approved Senate’s recommendations for the appointment of Professor Jonathan Knight as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) from 1 August 2015 for three years and of Professor Peter Lambert as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) from 1 July 2015 for four years. In May the University bid farewell to Professor Kevin Edge, Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

3. Senate Elections

Dr Michael Carley and Dr Steve Wharton have been elected to Senate from 1 August 2015 for three years in the recent election. Dr Fran Laughton will fill the casual vacancy on Senate resulting from the appointment of Dr Aki Salo as Chair of Academic Assembly with effect from 1 August, as the person receiving the next highest number of votes at the election.

4. Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey

The results of the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey were released in April. The University was ranked first out of 113 UK institutions for overall student satisfaction, and finished top or equal first in five of the criteria on which universities were judged. Our excellent academic, sports and social facilities, good community atmosphere, safe campus, and strong connections with industry were just some of the outstanding strengths highlighted in the survey.

5. Complete University Guide

The University was ranked 12th in the Complete University Guide published at the end of April. Although this was a drop from 8th place the previous year, the University now has 15 subjects in the top five, up from 12 last year and the highest number to date. Architecture and Business & Management Studies are ranked first. Subjects that made the greatest improvement in ranking position include Education (up thirteen places to 5th) Chemical Engineering (up four places to 3rd), Iberian Languages (up four places to 9th) and Physics & Astronomy (up three places to 5th). One of the reasons for the University’s indicator ranking position decreasing was the student:staff ratio (-7); this is adversely affected by the calculation of placement students as 0.5 FTE, as a significant percentage of Bath’s students are away on placement. A request has been made to reduce this to a more reasonable 0.2 FTE. Facilities spend was also low (-21) because although substantial funds were spent recently in this category, these did not fall within the period of the report.

6. Athena SWAN

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has achieved the Athena SWAN bronze award, recognising the Department's commitment to advancing women's careers in higher education and research. The Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology already has a bronze award.

7. Academic Assembly

I gave my annual address to Academic Assembly on 5 May. I focussed on research and the need to compete in terms of research power and research intensity, as well as to increase collaboration with other institutions and across disciplines within the University.

8. Internationalisation

8.1 International Profile

8.2 International Partnerships

  • The second call of 2014-2015 Bath International Research Funding Schemes closed in February. 46 applications were received and 21 awards were funded (17 of which were with the University Strategic Partners).
  • The University hosted a number of high profile visits including from Strategic Partners in Education ITESM - Mexico (visit from the Vice President for International Affairs), and Taylor’s University (Malaysia).
  • The Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) led a delegation to Brazil aimed at developing long lasting research links and identifying joint priorities with our Partner institutions in Brazil (USP and Sao Paolo).
  • Representatives from Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, PoLIS, IPR, the School of Management (SoM) and the IRO visited Mexico in April. Building on previous strong engagement in student recruitment, mobility and partnership development, the purpose of this visit was to consolidate collaborations with our strategic partner UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and well as explore new opportunities; activities during the visit included two workshops in Mathematics, planning for collaborative activities in Mechanical Engineering, the finalisation of exchange agreements in Mathematics and SoM, exploratory meetings with PoLIS, IPR, recruitment related activities and an alumni and partners event.

8.3 International Mobility

  • The IRO has submitted an institutional bid on behalf of the University (c. £1.3M) for mobility within Europe (also supplemented this year by an application for funding for mobility outside of Europe) under the ERASMUS+ programme.
  • New Undergraduate (UG) Student exchange agreements were recently developed with high profile Australian Institutions (University of Queensland and University of Western Australia) as well as with University Strategy Partner (Yonsei University – Korea and Nanyang Technological University – Singapore). Students will have the opportunity to spend time at these prestigious organisations as part of their studies from the next academic year.

8.4 International Student Recruitment

Building on successes in increasing UG applications in most Faculties/School (+9% in Science, +14.2 % in Management and +5.1% in HSS) the IRO, in collaboration with the Recruitment and Admissions Team and Faculties/School is focusing on increasing conversion rates across all disciplines. A number of conversation events (in which academic members of staff are participating) are taking place in key markets such as China, USA, Middle East, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Mexico.

9. Estates and Buildings

The Edge was officially opened by the Chancellor on 11 May. It will provide a location for interaction between Arts and Management both at the University and with the wider community.

10. Visits to Departments

I visited the growing Department of Chemical Engineering in 9 West in March where I met a range of the staff and students of the department. In April, I visited the Department of Computer Science in the refurbished 1 West building, and in May met with the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, which holds top position in several key league tables.

11. Other University News

I particularly wish to draw the attention of Senate to the following developments since our previous meeting:

11.1 Recent significant grant awards include:

Description Funder Principal Investigator £Amount
Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (CAMERA) EPSRC Dr James Bilzon 824,464
TUNEMEM: Externally Tuneable Separations for Membrane Reactors European Research Council Dr Darrell Patterson 1,331,297
Hyper-Actuated Flexure-Link Servo Mechanisms EPSRC Professor Patrick Keogh 342,317
FALCON - Finishing of Additive Layer Components on a Novel Platform Technology Strategy Board Dr Vimal Dhokia 359,963
Tailoring Magnetic Properties of MN-CR Chalcogenide Alloys and Heterostructures EPSRC Dr Daniel Wolverson 432,296
The Impact of Mobile Culture Donation Mr Chris Archer-Brown 250,000

11.2 Two members of academic staff, Professor Marjorie Weiss and Dr Denise Taylor, have been awarded Fellowship of the Faculty of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which is the provider of accredited educational events to support the professional and personal development of pharmacists at all stages of their career.

11.3 Professor Laurence Hurst has been made a Fellow of the Royal Society and also a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci).

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

May 2015

Posted in: On campus