Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Preview: VC's Report to Senate - 14 Oct 2015

  

📥  On campus

1. League Tables

1.1 The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide

The University was ranked 12th out of 127 institutions in the The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 published on 20 September 2015.  The University was ranked in 7th place in the graduate salaries table, the highest ranked institution excluding Oxford, Cambridge and London-based institutions.   This national league table was the first to use a 0.2 fte weighting for placement students in the SSR calculation rather than the HESA-derived 0.5 fte. This has improved the SSR figure for Bath as we have a high number of students on placements. The University has been lobbying HESA to amend its SSR calculation methodology and we will be taking advantage of the national consultation to highlight once again how the 0.5fte weighting disadvantages universities like ours with a large proportion of placement students.
 
1.2 QS World University Rankings

The University has risen 20 places in this year’s QS World University Rankings, from 179 to 159. The table ranks nearly 900 national and international universities and Bath is one of 30 UK universities to be ranked in the top 200. The rankings assess each university in four main areas - research, teaching, employability and international outlook using six indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations by faculty, international staff ratio and international student ratio. Bath performed particularly well in terms of employer reputation and is ranked 77th out of the 891 global universities for this indicator.

1.3 The Times Higher Education (THE ) World Ranking

The University has also improved its position in the THE world ranking from 301-350 to 251-300. The THE rank 800 institutions worldwide.  Given our investment in internationalisation, it is particularly gratifying that we appear in the top decile for international outlook. The performance indicators used in the ranking are weighted in the following proportions: Teaching 30%, Research 30%, Citations 30%, International outlook 7.5%, Industry income 2.5%.

1.4  National Student Survey

The University has achieved a good set of results in the NSS 2015 survey, recording 90% for ‘Overall satisfaction’.  Although this represents a three percentage point drop from last year and means a drop in national rankings (from joint 1st to joint 15th) the University still exceeds the sector average.  This is the fifth year in succession that the University has achieved 90% or more. A paper later on the agenda gives a full report.

1.5  Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2015

The Higher Education Academy’s (HEA’s) Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) has closed, achieving an overall response rate of 54%, an increase of fifteen percentage points on the last survey in 2013 and four percentage points above the University's target response rate. The University has received the results (including sector benchmarking) which are available to view on the Registry webpages, and is working with the Students’ Union and their Postgraduate Research Academic Representatives to review the results and develop joint Action Plans to address the results of the survey at all levels of the institution. A report will be made to the next meeting of University Research Students Committee.

2. Students’ Union Top Ten Issues

Each summer the Students’ Union identifies its Top Ten Issues of concern to the student body, on which it then works with the University in the coming year.  The Top Ten Issues for 2015/16 are to:

  • Lobby to increase space to work in the Library
  • Secure fixed fees for international students for the duration of their programme
  • Campaign to improve exam feedback
  • Ensure easy access to effective mental health support
  • Increase support for postgraduate students who teach
  • Challenge costs on campus
  • Develop clear group work policies in each department
  • Improve prayer room facilities on campus
  • Make sure unit evaluations are effectively addressed and actions communicated.
  • Lobby for improved housing standards.

I look forward to working with the Students’ Union on these issues.

3. Open Day

September's Open Day was another great success. Despite some indifferent weather, it was another very busy day on campus with an estimated 12,000 visitors coming to see what we have to offer here at Bath. As usual there was a lot of positive feedback and nothing but praise for the welcome visitors received from our staff and Student Ambassadors. Thanks to the hard work of colleagues in the Department of Estates, The Parade and the campus in general were looking at their best, and with the help of our excellent Student Ambassadors, staff volunteers and Students’ Union societies there was a great atmosphere and buzz around campus.

4.  Research Institutes

4.1  Institute for Policy Research

The new Director of the University's Institute for Policy Research (IPR) will be Nick Pearce, former Head of the Policy Unit at Number 10. Already a member of the IPR’s advisory board, his extensive policy experience and public profile will enable the Institute to further enhance its impact and forge deeper links between academic research and policy-makers. He will start his new role in December.

This year the IPR also launched a brand-new Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice for established practitioners. The first cohort of students include individuals working in a variety of international and national policy settings, including for the UN.

4.2  Institute of Mathematical Innovation

A new Global Chair for the Institute of Mathematical Innovation has been appointed, Prof Jim Zidek. The Institute’s launch event will be on 28 October 2015 in the Assembly Rooms.

5.  Regulatory Environment

5.1  Quality Assessment Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework

On 29 June, HEFCE published a consultation to mark the second phase of a review of quality approaches which began in January of this year.  Feedback was sought on proposals to:

  • place the focus on information and data about student academic outcomes rather than quality systems and processes
  • strengthen the existing external examining system to protect the integrity of academic standards
  • enhance the role of universities’ and colleges’ own assurance systems.

The University submitted a response by the deadline of 18 September 2015. Further details

Proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework are currently being developed by BIS on behalf of the Minister of HE, Jo Johnson. Input and discussion is taking place with representatives of the sector to inform a consultation as part of the wider Green Paper that the government intends to publish by mid-October. The Teaching Excellence Framework is intended to reward institutions where teaching is deemed to be of an exceptionally high standard, through an increase of student fee levels. The University will respond to the Green Paper and TEF in due course.

5.2  Teaching Qualifications

On 9 September 2015, the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, gave a speech at the UUK Conference outlining “government plans to give students better value for money from their degrees by incentivising excellent teaching, greater transparency and ensuring student protection”:  This emphasis on teaching quality is the latest in a series of statements and initiatives signalling the intent of Government to provide additional reassurance for students that they are getting value for their tuition fees.  One of these initiatives has been a national move to capture information about the academic teaching qualifications held by teaching staff in universities.  HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) introduced a new field to capture information on academic teaching qualifications in 2012/13.  The University is currently taking steps to capture better data on the teaching qualifications for its 2014/15 HESA staff return.

5.3   UUK guidance on Competition and Markets Authority

Under UK competition law students are treated as consumers.  The Competition and Markets Authority issued in March 2015 advice for higher education providers which the University has been considering to ensure it is fully compliant.  ‘Which’ is also taking an interest in the higher education sector.  Universities have been notified that the CMA, based on intelligence from various sources, will be carrying out a review of universities’ compliance this month.  The focus of the CMA’s advice is on ensuring that clear information is provided to students when they decide to apply for a course and that changes to that information should only occur in circumstances which are limited and identified in advance with a reasonable degree of specificity.  The University has been taking action on these matters, drawing on UUK guidance which was recently published.  The University Secretary is leading on this work, with the support of the Legal Office, working closely with Faculty offices and other relevant staff.

5.4 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015: Prevent Duty

The Prevent Duty came into effect on 18 September, the day after its approval by the House of Lords.  The University Secretary has been chairing a task and finish group comprising academic and professional service colleagues to assess the implications of the Duty for the University. HEFCE has, as expected, now been designated as the monitoring authority.  The University is required to carry out a risk assessment and to consider various aspects of its new responsibility to avoid people from being drawn into terrorism.  Once this work is further advanced a report will be made to Senate and modest changes to the University’s Freedom of Expression Policy will come to Senate for consideration.

6. Internationalisation

6.1 International profile

The University has significantly improved its position in the QS World University Rankings and the THE World Rankings as mentioned above.

I travelled to South Africa at the end of September with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) in order to sign a new agreement with the South African Department for Higher Education and Training and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for the delivery of the School of Management Doctorate in Business Administration (Higher Education Management) (DBA (HEM)). This agreement will allow two cohorts of 27 South African senior academic and professional staff to enrol in the DBA (HEM). During my time in South Africa, I also visited the University’s Strategic Partner in South Africa, Stellenbosch University, as well as the University of Pretoria.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) led a national delegation to Peru and Ecuador, in September, comprising 14 UK university senior representatives, on behalf of Universities UK.

6.2  International partnerships

A delegation from Koç University in Istanbul, led by Vice President Professor Dr İrşadi Aksun, visited the University in July to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with us. The new partnership with Koç University, a leading research institution in Turkey is the latest addition to the University’s very successful portfolio of International Strategic Partnerships.

The University also hosted a delegation from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) led by Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Dato’ Dr Muhamad Jantan. USM is one of Malaysia’s oldest research intensive public Universities.  The purpose of the visit was to explore the possibility of developing a strategic partnership and identify areas of mutual interest.

The University funded three projects this year under the Bath-FAPESP (Brazil). An additional nine projects were also awarded under the Bath Accelerating International Research Collaboration schemes for new initiatives involving University Strategic Partners. More details.

6.3  International Mobility

The University has been successful in three ERASMUS + applications for international credit mobility funding, a new strand of funding that has become available this year. The approved funding will allow students to benefit from ERASMUS+ travel grants when on exchange between Bath and a number of selected partners (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, City University Hong Kong and National University of Singapore). Two further applications were submitted in September under the same funding scheme to support student mobility with the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) and the Tecnologico de Monterrey (Mexico).

7.  Visits to Departments

Since my last report I have visited the busy venues of Campus Retail and Commercial Operations and also Research & Innovation Services.  In July I visited the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and the School of Management, which involved a tour of its sites at both ends of campus, including the new Executive Development Suite in The Edge. My last departmental visit of the academic year was to the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.

8. Senate Elections

Dr Maria Garcia has been elected to Senate from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2016 in the recent election to replace Dr Joanna Bryson who is on sabbatical this year.

9. Senior Academic Appointments

The following Heads of Department have been approved by Council:

Professor Chris Frost - Department of Chemistry from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2018.

Dr Mary Hayden - re-appointed for Education to 31st July 2016.

Professor Chris Jennison - Mathematical Sciences from 1st August 2015 to 31st January 2016.

Professor Peter Mörters - Mathematical Sciences from 1st February 2016 to 31st January 2019.

Professor Gary Lock - Mechanical Engineering 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2018.

10. Other University News

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

10.1 Recent significant grant awards include:

Description Funder Principal Investigator £Amount
GROWMOF Modelling of MOF Self-Assembly, Crustal Growth and Thin Film Formation European Research Council Professor Tina Duren 1,241,939
Improving Turbine Efficiency by Combining the Effects of Rim Seals and End-Wall Contours in the Presence of Purge Flow EPSRC Dr Carl Sangan 837,647
 tilisation of Albiglutide in Women of Child Bearing Age GlaxoSmithKline Services Unlimited Dr Anita McGrogan 250,372
XMOS - eXtended Model of Organics Semiconductors EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Alison Walker 508,393
Targeting Bed Reset-Induced Adipose Tissue Dysfunction with Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Nutrients BBSRC Professor Dylan Thompson 420,182
P2P SmarTest EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Furong Li 260,838
EXTREME EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Michele Meo 702,856
COLBE - The Creation of Localized Current and Future Weather for the Built Environment EPSRC Professor David Coley 614,628
Structure-function Studies on Human Angiotensin-l Converting Enzyme (Human ACE) MRC Professor Ravi Acharya 595,238
Delineating the Roles of NSun Proteins at the Onset of Mouse Embryogenesis MRC Dr Tony Perry  656,766
Development of an Infection Detecting Wound Dressing MRC  Dr Toby Jenkins 408,061
Fellow for Industrial Research Enhancement (FIRE) EU - Horizon 2020 Dr Janet L Scott 801,600
Fellow for Industrial Research Enhancement (FIRE) EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Philip Willis 801,600
Mechanically Decoupled Electric Turbocharger for Optimal IC Engines Efficiency Technology Strategy Board Dr Sam Akehurst 292,401
Hollow Anti-resonant Fibres for Visible and Ultraviolet Beam Delivery EPSRC Professor Jonathan Knight 345,155
Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship - Rational Design of Glassy Materials with Technological Applications The Royal Society Dr Anita Zeidler 469,203
REACT Study NIHR Dr Afroditi Stathi 958,422

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
Vice-Chancellor