Q - In light of the recent housing shortage in Bath, why was Manvers Street made into a learning zone rather than accommodation? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: B&NES Council would not have agreed to the planning application for accommodation, so the choice was never on the cards. I really do think that it is terribly important that we have the learning space in the City for our students. We are making a significant investment in that building to make it something for the University to be proud of, something that our students would want to go to, and also which becomes a focal point for our presence within the City more generally.
It is a big building and there is an enormous amount we can do there, not just in the immediate future but over the next few years - this is a fantastic starting point for the things that we can do within our city.
Q – Our GW4 partners at Bristol and Exeter both have a central doctoral college to support postgraduate students and early career researchers. Is this something that is being considered for Bath and if so, what impact would the introduction of this sort of central hub have on existing PG administrative structures? (Simon Gane, Graduate School Manager) (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)
A - Professor Jonathan Knight: At the minute we are looking at how our graduate student population should be administered and how it should interact.
It might seem like a doctoral college is an attractive option, and it has potential, but for Bath it is not only about doctoral students but all of our graduate student population; how they can find a home within the institution and what ways we can provide the administrative structures to look after them. It is a topic of active discussion within the University and in the coming months we will be engaging with staff to get their views. In the existing structures at the University there is a lot of good practice and excellent people and we do not want to lose any of that, but there is a lot to be gained by assessing the current structures and trying to put in place a more comprehensive structure for administering graduate students.
Q - Can we have an update on plans (as far decided) for Manvers Street?
Q - What is the benefit to students of frontline services moving to Manvers Street?
Q - There was no staff consultation about relocating the Careers Service to Manvers Street, and the rationale for the relocation seems to be entirely about identifying some groups to be moved off campus for space reasons. Many staff in the University are surprised and puzzled by this plan, and to quote one typical reaction, believe that the Careers Service is “obviously an activity that needs to be located at the point of need, and that point is probably not Manvers Street”.
It seems there is no room for negotiation about this relocation, so it would be pertinent to focus on other key questions, namely:
a) Have students been consulted on the relocation? And has it been made clear to them that the Manvers Street provision will be instead of the campus premises, and not an additional service point? Have the students been able to comment on their likely ability to access services which they currently use, often between lectures and at lunch times?
b) Based on your understanding of what the Career Service does, how will this move impact on the department’s service provision to its various audiences?
A - Since Council approved an investment of up to £4.5 million to create a lively, student-focussed hub of activities on the ground floor and basement of Manvers Street, we have been working with key stakeholders to develop the brief for the new facilities.
We have developed plans for individual student and group study space, an informal common room, as well as an IT suite and a coffee bar. These activities have a particular focus on student academic, professional and personal skills development. The majority of our Careers Service, along with the entirety of our Widening Participation Office, will be located alongside colleagues from the Students’ Union, Student Services and the Academic Skills Centre. Together they will provide key services to our students in an easily accessible city centre site, as well as creating a skills development focus within the building
We are currently working on plans for the opening hours and security of the building as well as working closely with the Careers Service, along with all other relevant stakeholders, to manage our student-facing service provision both at Manvers Street and on the Claverton Campus. (Nicky Kemp, Director of Policy & Planning)
Q - How do you propose to tackle improving student numbers versus the limited infrastructure of Bath?
A - The ongoing construction projects and new buildings around campus are evidence of the investment we have been making in the capacity and quality of our own physical infrastructure. Indeed, we have been spending around £1million per week for the last three years.
We also recognise that the City wants to develop its infrastructure and that there are competing requirements, particularly for residential accommodation. We have been liaising with B&NES on the Local Placemaking Plan that will provide the framework for the future development of the City's physical infrastructure.
We are also increasingly looking to create opportunities for facilities beyond Bath. These are likely to support growth in postgraduate numbers in the first instance. Our HIVE research facility at Wroughton is one example of a significant off-campus initiative. We are also leading the GW4 Alliance workstream looking at sharing research facilities regionally. On an international stage, we are planning the delivery of some elements of our DBA in Higher Education Management in South Africa.
In summary, we will be looking for new and innovative ways of delivering growth in research and teaching and we will not constrain our ambition to activities within the City. (Nicky Kemp, Director of Policy & Planning)
Q - What is the University’s policy on providing a sufficient number of toilets and washroom facilities, given the increase in student numbers and the conversion of some toilets to shower rooms in 4 East level 1, therefore reducing the total number of available toilets? Guy Brace
A - All new buildings and refurbishment works on campus comply with current Building Regulations that specify how many toilets should be available in a building. The University has also provided new buildings and infrastructure to deal with the increase of students on campus.
Your question relates to a particular floor where, as you say, some toilets were converted to showers in response to a request from the department and cycle users. The local Building Control Department has confirmed the provision in the building is sufficient. It is worth noting that the Regulations look at provision by building, rather than on a floor by floor basis.
Q - When couriers or delivery drivers arrive at the University, they often have no idea how to find the building that they need to deliver to and they find it very difficult. It causes issues in the underpass and congestion in this area. Could there be an area where the delivery drivers could report to, which is more obvious on entry to the campus, who could then direct them to the appropriate building or even accompany them, like a security office on entry to the campus.
Also, has there been any progress on the DHL central collection point for the University. We have had a lot of issues with DHL in our Department including missed collections, problems with the accounts being frozen and bad customer service. This has been reported to Procurement. This resulted in us having to take a package to another area of the campus for Collection as the Courier driver could not find our building (see above) or alternatively having the option of using another courier company. (Technician in Mechanical Engineering)
A - Couriers contract to deliver and collect items directly to and from a specific account holder.
The campus covers 200 acres and has many buildings, so the sender or receiver needs to brief couriers carefully on locations - campus maps are available on our website. [link] The new Transport and Security Office being built near the bus terminal [link to news item] may be able to help with directions for couriers who are lost on campus, but it is still the responsibility of the account holder to give clear instructions.
Regarding DHL, the University Mailroom is now operating a central account. A number of departments have closed their own accounts and are successfully using the central account. The ultimate goal will be to have one account for most departments’ transactions but due to the volumes that some departments post, this may prove problematic, so it may be preferable for them to keep their own. No department accounts would be closed without consent or authorisation. For more information or to discuss whether your own department would benefit from using the central service, please contact Jason Carpenter, Mail Services Manager, ext 4971.
Q - Please could you give an update on where we are with trans issues in particular unisex toilets.
A - Greg Dargue, Assistant Director (Operations and Maintenance) - We currently have unisex toilets in 1 West Level 1,2 & 3; 2 West Level 2; Library Level 2; 3WN Level 3; 4East Level 3; 8West Level 2; Wessex House level 4; and 3South Level 0. Estates are currently undertaking an audit across campus of signage including toilets, which will be complete by the end of the year.