Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Posts By: President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

Looking further in China

📥  Alumni event, Messages

With the Chinese New Year starting on 16th February, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish our students, staff and partners good fortune for the year ahead.

Our international profile and partnerships have become increasingly significant over the last few years and we are particularly proud of the strength of our relationships in China.

As with all relationships, considerable time and effort is required to make them work.  I am delighted that Professor Jeremy Bradshaw has now joined us as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International & Doctoral) and Professor Catherine Montgomery from our Department of Education has started her role as Academic Director of International Partnerships.  Professors Bradshaw and Montgomery have strong track records in international engagement and both have considerable experience of working with colleagues in China.

The need for meaningful international collaboration is more pressing than ever. From climate change and energy, security to pandemics, displaced populations of people and water shortages, the global challenges we face do not stop at the borders of nation states. I believe that universities, working with other sectors, play a crucial role in bringing together the expertise and understanding required to find solutions to some of these real-world problems.

These themes were top of our agenda when Professor Bradshaw and I attended the Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA UK) Chinese New Year Gala last week at the 02 in London.  The Gala was hosted by Mr Wang Yongli, Minister Counsellor of the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy, and the guests of honour were HE Ambassador Liu Xiaoming and his wife, Hu Pingua, who visited Bath in May 2016.  As well as enjoying a colourful evening of entertainment and celebration, the event provided an opportunity to network with those universities who have active links with China as well as a number of key influencers in international education.

The Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings published this week show that China’s presence on the international stage is increasing.  The country’s focus is now on attracting international students to study in China, with a plethora of joint ventures being established with foreign universities.

I saw some of these initiatives for myself when I visited China last November to give a keynote speech at the grand opening of Zhejiang University International Campus. Zhejiang is one of our key strategic partners and a number of our departments are working collaboratively with colleagues there.  In establishing its International Campus, Zhejiang has provided an interesting new take on transnational education with several overseas partner universities locating specific faculties within an existing, successful host university. The International Campus will educate Chinese home students alongside students from many other nations, evolving a culture and curricula that meet the needs and aspirations of that mix of students. This model also allows research collaboration across the participating universities to grow and flourish. I think it will be a fascinating catalyst, enabling us to think about - and do - research and teaching in different ways.

Also during my November visit, I met with Dr Liu Jinghui, Secretary-General of the China Scholarship Council (CSC), and signed an important agreement for a joint scholarship programme to attract top PhD candidates from China, paving the way for new links with prestigious Chinese universities and research institutions in areas of shared research excellence.

These are exciting developments which will complement our existing links with China and will enable us to enhance the experience we offer to our international students.

We now have an impressive number of alumni based in China.  Only recently, I met 200 alumni and guests in Beijing.  I have now seen these events grow and change as our alumni network has gone from strength to strength. It is a real privilege to watch our talented graduates develop in their own careers, achieve their ambitions and remain so passionate about maintaining their connection with our University community.  It is thanks to dedicated individuals, such as Snow Wu, who has been Chair of the Beijing Alumni Chapter since 2009, that such networks thrive in countries all over the world.

Thank you to everyone who has played their part so far in building our connections in China.

I wish you a prosperous new year.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, President and Vice-Chancellor

 

Christmas message

📥  Messages

Dear colleagues,

As the year comes to a close it is an ideal time to look back over the past 12 months and ahead to the next.

I recognise it has been a difficult time for all of us who care deeply about this University. I'm pleased our governing body, Council, has agreed to take action on all HEFCE’s recommendations and that there will be an independent and rigorous Effectiveness Review of Council in the first part of next year.

My hope is that our community can now come together, both to share pride in our achievements in 2017 and to support each other through the changes and opportunities 2018 will bring.

We have made significant progress in implementing our strategy, including the creation of the Doctoral College, increased postgraduate recruitment, the new Centre for Learning and Teaching and a streamlined induction process.

These were underpinned by major infrastructure developments including the launch of our Pall Mall hub in London and Virgil Building here in Bath. Construction of the Milner Centre for Evolution building, Polden accommodation and new gym is underway on campus and plans for the new School of Management building and vision are taking shape.

The range and quality of our achievements were recognised through a Guardian top 5 ranking, and Sports University of the Year 2018 accolade in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, which again ranked us as the best university in the region. In addition, our outstanding teaching and learning was recognised with a Gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Our researchers continued to generate global impacts with highlights including the first ever combined detection of both light and gravitational waves, just one example of our contribution to the sum of human knowledge.

One of my highlights of the year was the University of Bath Festival in May, when we hosted around 10,000 visitors from the local community on campus to share our incredible research, teaching and facilities.

As you know I will be standing down next August. During the months I have left in post I will focus on priority projects as well as playing my part in a smooth transition as the University recruits a new Vice-Chancellor.

The £60m Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) will be built on the Bristol & Bath Science Park and significant funding and architects are in already place. When established, the Institute will deliver transformational research on the development of future generations of ultra-low emission vehicles.

Investing in our campus will continue to be essential for delivering student satisfaction and outstanding research and teaching. Our University is a significant contributor to the City of Bath and the wider region both financially and socially but we are ever mindful of our responsibilities to the local community. My colleagues in the senior management team and I are working closely with local stakeholders to ensure we strike the right balance with our plans for the future as we develop.

I also plan to be involved in the final push to see us over the finish line for the £66m target for our Look Further fundraising campaign.

We will welcome more talented staff to our University in the year ahead and I am particularly looking forward to working with Professor Jeremy Bradshaw, our new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International & Doctoral) when he joins us in February.

I hope you have a restful break with family and friends over the festive period.

Kind regards,

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell,
President and Vice-Chancellor

 

Best in the South West and Sports University of the Year

📥  Messages

Dear colleagues,

This weekend we can celebrate being named as Sports University of the Year for 2018 by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide and once again being the highest ranked university in our region. We retain 12th place nationally.

The new edition of the guide comments on our strong links with business and the excellent prospects for Bath graduates who continue to be some of the most sought after in the country, ranking 7th overall.  When it comes to average starting salaries, our graduates rank fourth highest in the country and top in the South West.

The guide describes our sports facilities as ‘among the best in Europe’ and how the performance of our student sports teams and our achievement in topping the subject rankings for Sports Science have all contributed to being recognised as Sports University of the Year. We have also topped the subject table for Architecture. The guide will include full details of subject tables when published on Sunday.

As we look forward to a busy arrivals weekend and the start of the new Academic Session, it is gratifying to be once again recognised for excellence at the national level. I would like to thank all the students and staff who have made this possible.

To continue on the sporting theme, I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of two forthcoming events which all are invited to join.

Monday 25 September at 1 pm in the Sports Training Village
Bath Graduate, England and former Team Bath Netball player Stacey Francis will become the latest inductee into the Team Bath Hall of Fame for Sport.

Wednesday 18 October at Bath Rec, 6:30 pm kick-off
University of Bath Rugby Club will take on fierce rivals Loughborough University in the national BUCS Super Rugby competition.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
President and Vice-Chancellor

 

 

Our global network: the view from New York

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📥  Celebrating successes, Internationalisation

Affirming our international influence through worldwide partnerships and extending our research power are two key strands of our 2016-2021 strategy.

These cannot be achieved solely from our campus here in Bath. A key part of my role as Vice-Chancellor involves working with our faculty and alumni team to forge new collaborations and seek fresh opportunities.

Last week in New York was an important chance to celebrate the close of our 50th anniversary with supporters and alumni who play a crucial role in supporting scholarships and funding our research. You can read more about this event here.

Whilst in the city, we had the chance to meet with the President of New York University (NYU), Professor Andrew Hamilton whom colleagues here may recall was formerly Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. NYU has a campus in London and operates globally and we had a good conversation about areas of potential inter-institutional co-operation.

Equally key were the meetings with influential academics, including the Dean of Science at New York University, Professor Michael D. Purugganan, who spent time with us last year as a Global Chair at the Milner Centre. Our Global Chairs visiting professorship scheme attracts distinguished, globally renowned scholars to engage in a programme of high-profile research activity at our University. This meeting was an invaluable opportunity to reflect on how we enhance this network and continue to foster close relationships with these academics even after their term with us is over.

Professor David Coley’s important research into developing better shelters for refugees was at the heart of our visit to the United States. We met with David Miliband who is now President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and engaged in fruitful conversations with his team about how to expand this work in refugee camps beyond Jordan. We also had an excellent meeting with the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jordan to the United Nations in New York, Dr. Sima Sami Bahous. We were able to discuss the practical applications of David’s work helping to improve the living conditions of people living in extreme climates both for refugees and also for host communities in the Middle East.

Our schedule on this short trip allowed a meeting of the Foundation Board, our US charity, which made some important decisions about supporting sports scholarships for US students, further supporting the Global Chairs visiting professorship scheme and also creating a joint grant with Marshall Scholarships to attract the best and brightest minds to Bath.

For the next few weeks, my focus is closer to home, welcoming new and returning students back to campus. However, this trip will stay in my mind as a testament to the strength of our alumni network and the importance of looking further to forge new and fruitful partnerships across the globe.

 

Significant new investment for our Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS)

📥  Messages

Dear colleagues,

We have today received some fantastic news regarding the future of the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS).

I am delighted to confirm that the University has been awarded almost £29 million of capital funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) UK Research Partnership Investment Fund for the construction of IAAPS.

This award, together with £20m of our own capital funding and £10m from the Local Growth Fund administered by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership[1], will enable the construction of IAAPS to begin in the summer of 2018 and the facility to open in 2020.

IAAPS will be a global centre of excellence, delivering transformational research and innovation into advanced propulsion systems. Located at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, it will lead the development of future generations of ultra-low emission vehicles. It will both encourage economic investment in our region and help address the engineering skills shortage facing the UK automotive sector.

Global companies, including McLaren, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Hofer Powertrain, as well as more local businesses such as HiETA Technologies, have been key to the success of the IAAPS concept. The support of the Automotive Council and the Advanced Propulsion Centre, alongside the support of the University’s industrial partners will continue to play a key role in the project.

The success of this funding bid has been hard won. There are too many individuals who have contributed to more than 40 years of automotive research excellence to name each one in person. However, the leadership of Professor Gary Hawley (Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design) and the expertise of colleagues at the Powertrain Vehicle Research Centre have been central to the progress of IAAPS to date. My sincere thanks also to colleagues in senior management and across professional services who have worked so hard in supporting the Faculty of Engineering & Design to get to this stage.

I truly believe that securing this funding is an historic achievement for the University. Now the hard work begins in earnest to make the inspiring vision for IAAPS a reality.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
President and Vice-Chancellor

[1] Subject to the approval of the Full Business Case by the West of England Joint Committee

 

Our award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

📥  Messages

Dear colleagues,

I’m pleased to confirm that we have been awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This is a remarkable achievement and something about which the whole University community can be rightly proud.

The Gold rating signifies that the teaching here at the University of Bath is of the highest quality found in the UK and that we deliver consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.

I know this news comes at a very busy time of year for our Faculty, with exams just over and a great deal of time and energy being invested in marking. Thank you all for your dedication; I’m delighted the talent and sheer hard work of our staff has been recognised in this way.

The Gold award comes with a summary from HEFCE which says our data indicate “that students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes” and “outstanding levels of satisfaction with teaching on my course, academic support, and assessment and feedback from a diverse body of students, notably exceeding the provider benchmarks”.

HEFCE goes on to highlight particular strengths including our strong employment orientation, an embedded culture which values students as co-creators of learning, physical and digital resources of the highest quality, consistent and frequent engagement of students with developments from the forefront of research, and an embedded strategy that facilitates, recognises and rewards excellent teaching. You can find the full summary at www.hefce.ac.uk.

These achievements belong to our whole workforce. My thanks to each and every one of you and to the team who pulled together our TEF submission so ably.

In the week negotiations to leave the EU begin, I know we are facing challenges ahead. The recent appalling terrorist attacks have sought to divide communities here in the UK. We are committed to delivering the best research and teaching in a truly inclusive, diverse and tolerant environment. I’m proud that our community continues to uphold these values as we strive for, and achieve, excellence in everything we do.

Best wishes,

VC signature clean

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

President & Vice-Chancellor

 

Supporting our international staff

📥  Internationalisation, Messages

Dear Colleagues,

In the Prime Minister’s speech tomorrow, we are likely to hear more about the UK Government’s approach to negotiations on the UK leaving the European Union.

I know that many of you are concerned about the impact of the EU referendum and the effect it might have on you personally, or on your colleagues at the University. At our Let’s Talk meeting at the end of November, we discussed the implications of the EU referendum for our people, our strategy and the wider sector.

Supporting all of you through this momentous change is really important, so to follow on from the immigration advice sessions we ran last year we have now agreed to provide further support to our EU employees from outside the UK, and to those joining us from outside the EU.

We will be paying the fee for European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) staff who are eligible to apply for a Registration Certificate or Permanent Residence Card.

Furthermore, to maintain and enhance our ability to attract international candidates from outside the EU we will be providing an enhanced relocation allowance to eligible candidates. There is still some policy detail to be finalised, but I expect further information to be available in the coming weeks.

We have also joined #WeAreInternational to play our part in ensuring our universities remain diverse, inclusive communities open to students and staff from across the world.

Further updates and advice can be found on our website or from your line manager and the HR department.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

President & Vice-Chancellor

 

Christmas message from the VC

📥  Celebrating successes, Messages

As we approach the last few working days of 2016, I wanted to wish you well for the festive season.

It has been a particularly busy few months. Our 50th anniversary celebrations on 25 October were a real highlight and I’m grateful to everyone who made them such a success.

Casting our sights to 2017, our University of Bath Festival will be taking place on 6 May and I’m looking forward to welcoming the wider community on to campus to experience the best we have to offer in research, teaching, sport and the arts.

Next year will be an important one for our University and we will be forging ahead with the implementation of our Strategy, attracting more postgraduate students, increasing our research power, continuing to improve our infrastructure and forging stronger international partnerships.

In the meantime, I hope you have the opportunity to relax, enjoy your break and watch the Royal Institution’s 2016 Christmas Lectures which will be broadcast on BBC Four on 26, 27 and 28 December at 8pm.  It is an enormously prestigious lecture series with a rich heritage of scientific discovery and we are delighted that Professor Saiful Islam, from our Department of Chemistry, will present ‘Supercharged: Fuelling the Future’ this year.

My thanks to our entire community for all your hard work. I wish you and your families a very merry and peaceful Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Best wishes,

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

 

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

President & Vice-Chancellor

 

Celebrating our 50th in the US

📥  Alumni event, Internationalisation, Representing the University

I visited San Francisco earlier this month.

Our Chancellor, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, was there to host a reception for our alumni and supporters on the West Coast - the largest gathering we ever held in the US and a fitting start to the international celebrations of our 50th anniversary.

Held at the top of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco with wonderful views of the Bay, including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, the event was energetic and all the attendees really engaged – ranging from alumni of 40 years ago to ones from 2015.  It is amazing what careers Bath graduates create for themselves – influential in so many walks of life.

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While there, I also visited the University of California San Francisco QB3 business incubator to see how they do things.

Even more exciting, I visited the Tesla car factory in Fremont, hosted by our Honorary Graduate Gilbert Passin, and learnt about their amazing recent development.  We talked about placement students going there and I cannot imagine a more exciting opportunity.  I also drove one of the cars – just delicious, so environmentally-friendly, so fast and so stable!  What more can you ask for?

I spoke to several of our great supporters on the visit, including Anthony Lye and Fernando Flores-New, and I also met some new people who have the ability to be tremendously helpful in the future.  Just as an example, I think I should mention that one of our graduates, Randy Newcomb arranged for Humanity United with the British Consulate to give a lunch for several charities who would be interested in our work in Jordan and in South Africa.  I look forward to working with them to further both our research and provision of education in these countries.

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It was a short visit but a rich and productive one.  I thank everyone – in the University and outside of it – for making it so valuable.  I particularly thank our Chancellor who made a special effort to be there.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

President & Vice-Chancellor 

 

 

 

 

VC Message: A heartfelt thank you on our 50th anniversary

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📥  Messages

After weeks of busy preparation, we can now celebrate the 50th anniversary of the University receiving its Royal Charter.

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to our whole community of staff, students and alumni; it is your creativity, innovation, tenacity and enterprising spirit that has led to our success.

A host of people helped to organise events at the Abbey and the wonderful food, activities and entertainment for Party on the Parade; my thanks to them all.

As a small marker of this milestone in our history and in recognition of all your contributions, the University will close early for Christmas this year. Friday 23 December will be an extra day of leave. Colleagues who operate essential services will be given further details shortly.

Anniversaries are about looking forward as well as celebrating success. Together, we will not only look further but also go further than others have gone before.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis M. Breakwell
President & Vice-Chancellor