Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Topic: Representing the University

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) leads University delegation to Jordan

📥  Internationalisation, Representing the University

Last week, I was pleased to spend four days in Amman in Jordan. In the context of the current humanitarian crisis, we have made a long-term commitment to help build capacity and resilience in Jordan in terms of people and systems. This trip was designed to further develop a number of projects focussed on capacity-building that we are hoping to launch with partners in the country.

Such a University-to-country approach is unique at Bath, but then so too is the current predicament of the country: bordering Syria, Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Jordan is seen as an island of stability by thousands seeking to escape conflict in their own countries.

An estimated 40% of Jordan’s population are refugees – mainly from Syria, but also from Iraq, Somalia, and Ethiopia - and of the remaining population almost half are Palestinian – often third and fourth generation. Yet while Jordan has received more refugees per capita than any other country in the world, it has few natural resources and faces severe problems of water scarcity, poverty, housing shortages and food insecurity.

The six-person delegation from Bath represented a variety of collaborative research and teaching projects, with a focus on capacity building, whether through education, housing, water or energy.

Over the course of the four days, we met with representatives from Jordan’s four leading research universities, the British Council and British Institute, as well as key United Nations agencies, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which are working in the context of the refugee crisis. Listening to Jordanian colleagues and regional experts in these meetings was crucial in helping us fine-tune and further develop our projects, in order that they will have greater impact.

The enthusiasm with which our projects were received in each meeting not only made me feel proud to be associated with such creative and committed colleagues, but also confirmed to me that our approach is the right one.

For obvious reasons, we can’t go into the details of the projects at such an early stage, but I will keep you posted as our initiatives develop. This is just the beginning of a long-term relationship based on mutual respect and co-operation.


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.



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.



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 explores possible collaborations in Germany

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📥  Internationalisation, Learning & Teaching, Representing the University, Research

Last week, Dame Glynis visited Berlin for 48 hours as part of a Universities UK (UUK) delegation of five vice-chancellors led by Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow (President, Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor, University of Kent).

The delegation met with members of the board of the German Rectors' Conference or Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK), a voluntary association of 268 state and state-recognised universities serving more than 94 per cent of all students in Germany.


Dame Glynis in Berlin

Designed to identify further opportunities for the two countries to work together, the visit was influenced by the fact that, after the US, the UK and Germany are each other’s most important research collaborator.

Consideration was given to current collaborations in EU higher education and, in particular, those operating via the European University Association.   There was also discussion of Open Access/Open Science in the UK and Germany, and the possibilities for developing joint approaches.

In the final session, conversations focussed on the introduction of research impact assessment in German universities and lessons which could be learned from the UK system.

Dame Glynis also visited two universities.   At the Technische Universität Berlin, she met Professor Dr Angela Ittel (Vice President for International Relations and Teacher Education).

At the Humboldt University of Berlin, she talked with Professor Dr-Ing Dr Sabine Kunst (President) and Dr Ursula Hans (Director, International Office). Only two weeks into her term of office (having previously served as the Minister of Science, Research & Culture), Professor Kunst was generous in prioritising the meeting.

Both of these universities expressed a strong interest in working with the University of Bath and, in the case of Humboldt, to build on our existing collaboration on the MA Contemporary European Studies (Euromasters) programme.


Driving the UK’s automotive excellence

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📥  Representing the University

Myself and colleagues from the University recently met Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid, where we presented the latest developments in the University’s plans to build a new automotive research centre at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.

In what was a highly positive meeting, in which we were also joined by local MPs Ben Howlett and Chris Skidmore, Mr Javid was encouraged by the proposals we presented.

The Government and industry is already working together on researching and developing low carbon propulsion and driverless cars technology. However, Mr Javid recognised more could be done to help universities and industry collaborate to ensure the UK has the right skills for a 21st century automotive industry.

Enhancing the UK automotive sector's competitive edge

Our ambition at the University is to build a unique £50m facility that would deliver transformational research for new advanced automotive propulsion technologies. By combining the expertise of academia and industry and working closely with SMEs and multinational companies, the proposed facility would enhance the UK’s competitive edge in the automotive sector.

The European and global automotive market is highly competitive but we believe this facility would put the UK in the driving seat in creating a new breed of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Local and national benefits

Locally, the proposed project would bring in new investment and thousands of highly skilled advanced engineering jobs to the West of England, as well as providing state-of-the-art facilities that will benefit a range of industry-led collaborations. It would also have educational value, delivering new undergraduate/masters and PhD training opportunities, helping to upskill the current workforce to support the expansion of the automotive propulsion industry.

On a national level, the facility would build on links with the National Composites Centre which is based at the Science Park. Combining new materials and new technologies would make a powerful combination. It would also play an important role in the Government’s Propulsion Nation vision which aims to deliver world-leading technologies, as part of its strategy to support the automotive sector.

Building on decades of success

The University of Bath has a longstanding record for delivering world-class automotive research, and we feel we are best placed to lead on the creation and establishment of such an exciting and significant research facility. For over four decades, our highly regarded Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) has been conducting prize-winning automotive research and has delivered nearly 100 business-led experimental projects worth £24m over the last 20 years.

Only recently, the University was recognised as one of the UK’s leading automotive propulsion groups, having been selected as a Spoke of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). As an APC Spoke, Bath will form a centre of excellence bringing specific functional, technological and regional capability to the APC network. This proposed new facility would help us build on this momentum.

We have been very encouraged by the support from industry and political leaders. We will now work hard to turn this opportunity into reality.

Pictured (left to right): Ben Howlett MP, Director of Research & Innovation Services, Dr Jon Hunt; Chris Skidmore MP; Secretary of State, Sajid Javid; Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Gary Hawley; Vice President (Implementation), Steve Egan.

Pictured (left to right): Ben Howlett MP, Director of Research & Innovation Services, Dr Jon Hunt; Chris Skidmore MP; Secretary of State, Sajid Javid; Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Gary Hawley; Vice President (Implementation), Steve Egan.


Visit by the Chilean Ambassador

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📥  Internationalisation, Representing the University

On Monday 8 February we welcomed the Ambassador of Chile in the UK to campus. The Ambassador visited us to learn more about our current collaborations with Chile and to establish how the Embassy and the University work together in the region.

Ambassador Rolando Drago was welcomed by Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) Professor Colin Grant and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) Professor Peter Lambert, both of whom have a keen interest in Latin America.

Colleagues from SAMBa, Bath IMI, CSCT, the Milner Centre for Evolution, IPR and PoLIS met with the Ambassador to discuss their current links with Chile.


Bath academics discuss their links with Chile with the Ambassador.

Professor Andreas Kyprianou and Dr Gavin Shaddick from the Department of Mathematical Sciences talked about their recent trip to Chile on behalf of SAMBa.

Dr Leslie Wehner and Dr Juan Pablo Ferrero discussed their research interests in Latin America, Dr Wehner expects to launch a Latin America Centre on campus this year.

Following a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, the Ambassador met with students from Chile. It was a great chance for His Excellency to talk to them about why they chose to study in the UK and what brought them to Bath.

Professor Grant led an International Unit delegation to Chile and Argentina in 2014 to explore collaboration possibilities with other UK higher education institutions.

He commented: “On our visit to Chile in 2014, we were treated to warm hospitality and a series of very productive meetings, so I was pleased to be able to repay the Ambassador by hosting his visit to us.

“Chile is a rapidly growing country with a vibrant academic community, so to cement our existing relationship and discuss developing it further at such a senior level is very gratifying.”


The Vice-Chancellor meets Ambassador Rolando Drago


Note from Amman

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📥  Representing the University

The Vice Chancellor and PVC (I) travelled from Abu Dhabi to Amman on Thursday of last week. That the note from Amman follows only now (a few hours after touchdown in Heathrow) gives you a sense of the intensity and richness of the programme so carefully designed by the office of Their Royal Highnesses Prince El Hassan and Princess Sarvath El Hassan. Amman ranks amongst our most memorable overseas experiences.

We met with sitting senators and former ministers, PhD alumni in education and political communication, the British Institute, the Princess Sumaya University of Science and Technology, the Royal Scientific Society and the Amman Baccalaureate School (ABS), of which Princess Sarvath is patron.

We had the immense pleasure of meeting Jeff Thompson and Mary Hayden at the launch of a University of Bath Study Centre at the ABS. Here, our colleagues will deliver units of our MA Education. Demand is very high and the school offers a world-class educational experience. The pupils were outstanding. And what’s more: over dinner the principal had placed a special order of my favourite salad – tabbouleh. That clinched it!

It is clear that there is a meeting of minds with all our new partners in Jordan – we spoke at length about our IMI, Water Institute, IPR and MENA Network and our international values (don’t forget: Rajani, Robin and Juergen from the School of Management are delivering the DBA in South Africa right now).

Our strength in science and engineering, in policy and education and our understanding of the urgent need to commit to the Levant places us ideally for a concrete engagement with real-world impacts for the benefit of Jordan and beyond.

It was an immense pleasure being in Amman. Tolerant, lively, open, multicultural. A lesson in co-existence. Oh: and very cold with snow forecast for tomorrow.

And yes – for those who have followed the other blogs – I was able to grab a rather cold espresso at 0430 this morning. All is well.

In sum: an amazing trip and a major opportunity to connect with our Strategy.



Note from Abu Dhabi

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📥  Representing the University

The University of Bath delegation left Dubai yesterday and travelled the short distance to Abu Dhabi. We arrived in sunshine. A cool breeze reached us from the turquoise waters of the Gulf and the sky was pale cobalt. Quite beautiful.

Our first meeting, with panoramic views of the Corniche, was with the University's most eminent alumnus in the region, His Excellency Khalil Foulathi, who is also one of our honorary graduates. We covered many issues, including entrepreneurship and the future development needs of the UAE. It is clear that our discipline range - and partnership ethos - offer some exciting opportunities here.

Our second meeting was with an alumna of our EdD programme, Dr Samia Al Farra. Dr Al Farra was the first Principal of Amman Baccalaureate School in Jordan and is one of our finest ambassadors worldwide. The VC and PVC(I) will be visiting the School with Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson in the coming days.

Our final meeting was with HM Ambassador, Philip Parham and the British Council's country director, Marc Jessel. It was a similarly wide-ranging discussion about research training and innovation and the University's strategic aims.

Gavin Maggs left for the UK very early this morning. The VC and PVC(I) are about to depart for Amman which is why this blog is rather breathless. A 'Note from Amman' will follow but first we need to check out. And yes - grab that last coffee for the road.


Note from Dubai

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📥  Representing the University

A University of Bath delegation, led by the Vice Chancellor and including the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) and Director of Development & Alumni, is currently visiting the UAE and Jordan. It is a trip that takes in three centres: the emirates Dubai and Abu Dhabi and also Amman.

We arrived late on Sunday evening from the UK and have had two days of meetings in Dubai so far. These included the UK Consul, our leading alumni in the emirate, the MENA HE Director for the British Council and leading figures from UK and UAE university education.

Two things perhaps strike the first-time visitor to Dubai: the ambition of its architecture (the ‘mega-tall’ Burj Khalifa, designed by US architects Adrian Smith, Marshall Strabala, George F. Efstathiou and structural engineer William F. Baker, rises 830m into the sky) and the diversity of its people (70 nationalities and 120,000 UK citizens among them).

Dubai truly is a gateway city to the Middle East, but also to Europe, the Indian sub-continent and northern Africa. There is a very real sense that history is being made here.

We have been very busy in a multi-dimensional trip and good coffee (the Sumatran was a particular hit) has certainly kept us going despite disturbed sleep. And the timing could not be better as the number of students studying at Bath from the UAE grows and we celebrate the strength of our alumni community there – our strongest in the region.

We are fortunate to have fantastically engaged alumni here who will support our international endeavours and build our profile as one of the world’s best universities.

Next stop: Abu Dhabi, with a note to follow (oh – and more coffee).

Professor Colin Grant
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation)


Consolidating relationships with Zhejiang

📥  Representing the University

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation), Professor Colin Grant, welcomed an academic delegation from Zhejiang University to our campus on Monday 8 December.

The Zhejiang University delegation was led by their Executive Vice President, Professor Yonghua Song, and consisted of academics from Engineering, Pharmacy & Pharmacology and International Relations.

Staff from Bath and Zhejiang in 4 West

The visit was aimed at consolidating relationships in two key areas, Electonic & Electrical Engineering and Pharmacy & Pharmacology.  The visit included an inaugural joint scientific workshop titled ‘Future Electrical Power System Research’, led by Professor Furong Li, from our Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. (more…)