Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

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

 

Celebrating 50 years

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📥  Messages

Dear Colleague,

Following my previous messages about our plans for celebrating our 50th anniversary in the Abbey and at the Rec, I would like to invite you to take time out of your afternoon on 25 October to join the POP! Party on the Parade.

From 12 till 4pm, there will be entertainment ranging from staff bands to samba, student societies to quizzes, celebratory activities such as a zip wire and climbing wall, and free cake and soft drinks for staff and students to enjoy.

There will be something for everyone, so please take some time out of your busy day to celebrate this milestone of our University.

You can find more details about getting involved in our anniversary year on our website.

I look forward to sharing our anniversary with you all.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
President & Vice-Chancellor

 

Welcome message from the Vice-Chancellor

📥  Messages

The start of the academic year - a time of frenetic activity and new challenges. Our community and our campus is geared up to welcome our new and our returning students - undergraduates and postgraduates from all over the world.

Thanks to the tremendously hard work of staff across the entire University and Students’ Union, we are well prepared for the busy weeks ahead, starting with Induction and Freshers’ Week. New students will be arriving with a mixture of apprehension and excitement and I know that a kind word or some timely information from you will go a long way towards making them feel at home. Small acts of thoughtfulness in these early days tend to be remembered fondly for many years.

This is a particularly special year for us here at Bath as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. Our official birthday on 25 October will combine a ceremony at Bath Abbey, an afternoon Party on the Parade and a rugby match at the Rec in the evening. I would encourage you to take full advantage of the huge range of events being held throughout the year - they are all listed on our 50th anniversary website.

The emphasis of our 50th celebration is "looking further". We do not wish simply to celebrate what we have achieved so far since 1966. We want to look forward and (to quote a line that resonates) "to go where no one has gone before". That is the essence of a great university. Through this we will sustain and develop our excellence in research, learning and teaching.

The new University strategy has set the direction for the next five years (2016-21). We will continue to grow our research power, attract increasing numbers of postgraduates, continue to strengthen our international influence through worldwide partnerships, to enhance the quality of the academic and extra-curricular student experience and expand our capacity and capability by investing in new facilities and technologies.

Against a backdrop of political and economic change, thanks to the talented and dedicated members of our community, I think we will continue to deal with the challenges and, more importantly, seize the opportunities that will emerge.

I look forward to working with you during this critical and exciting year in our University’s history.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL

President and Vice-Chancellor

 

 

Celebrating 50 years

📥  Messages

Dear Colleague,

Next month, on 25 October 2016, we mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Royal Charter that founded our University.

Our anniversary is a special opportunity not only to reflect on all that we have achieved in our short history, but also a chance to look ahead together.

The day will begin in the unique setting of Bath Abbey where our Chancellor, staff, students, alumni and friends will gather to celebrate our community with ceremony, music and performance.

Tickets for staff will be allocated on a first come first served basis so please do register your interest quickly if you would like to take part.

Throughout the afternoon, there will be entertainment and celebratory activities on campus for staff and students to enjoy.

To round off the day, our whole University community is invited to cheer on our men’s 1st XV rugby team in a BUCS fixture at Bath Rec.

There are plenty of ways to get involved throughout our anniversary year and the 50th website is a good place to start: take a trip down memory lane, put a date in your diary and read about the remarkable discoveries made possible thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends.

More details about the Abbey celebration and how to register are below.

I look forward to sharing our anniversary with you all,

Professor Dame Glynis M Breakwell
President & Vice-Chancellor

 

 

 

Tuesday 25 October 2016

The 50th anniversary of the signing of the Royal Charter
which founded our University.

The Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO

and the President & Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE DL

warmly invite you to join us in celebration.

Together we will share music and performance, reflect on our achievements and look to the future.

Bath Abbey: 11am – Midday

Tickets are available first come, first served.
To secure your place, please register online, email eventsandceremonies@bath.ac.uk
or phone 01225 386417.

The event will also be streamed to campus.

Please inform us of any access requirements. Full details will be sent with your ticket.

Please note that there will not be an academic procession.

 

VC visits Faculty of Engineering and Design Professional Services

📥  On campus, Visits to departments

The Faculty of Engineering & Design welcomed the Vice-Chancellor recently and showcased their use of digital technologies. Management, administration and specialist teams gave demonstrations on a range of new initiatives for student recruitment, exam setting and placements. The morning acted as a celebration for innovative practices and collaborative working across the Faculty in line with their new mission statement.

Dame Glynis enjoyed presentations from:

·       The Placements Team who explained how they match students and companies to ensure the best fit for both parties.

·       The Learning Technologists and Learning Enhancement Advisor who spoke about how they use the latest technologies to support academic staff.

·       The Graduate School who described how they now create and set exams using Moodle, rendering a complex and slow process much more efficient and secure.

·       The Marketing Team who demonstrated how they use augment reality through the Aurasma App and blogging to showcase student projects and experiences.

·       The Faculty Executive Support Office who exhibited new methods for keeping staff updated.

·       The Department Offices who talked about their social media channels.

Dame Glynis hears from

Dame Glynis hears from Yvonne Moore about the support they offer academic staff with using the latest technologies

Dame Glynis also spoke with the Faculty’s first Business Administration Modern Apprentices; Hajraah Qureshi and Mitch Rose. Hajraah demonstrated a social media training module she had developed for staff.

29026 VC Visit to Faculty of Engineering 21 July 2016. Ian Forster-Smith, Director of Administration for E&D, shows the VC around. Client: Ben Harris - Corp Comms

Sarah Sempala-Ntege and Beth Jones from the Marketing team with Iain Forster-Smith and the VC

Addressing everyone over tea and a specially commissioned cake, Dame Glynis said: “It has been fascinating to find out so much about the new things you are doing. I am especially keen to create opportunities to help people develop, and it is great to hear how well your Modern Apprentices have been doing.

“I would ask you to share your work with colleagues across the faculties and the School of Management.

“Collaboration and inclusion are key to establishing innovation as the norm. The sky really is the limit when you start to work with everyone across the University. What you do here is fantastic.”

29026 VC Visit to Faculty of Engineering 21 July 2016. Ian Forster-Smith, Director of Administration for E&D, shows the VC around. Client: Ben Harris - Corp Comms

The Faculty of Engineering & Design Professional Services team

 

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) blog

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📥  Learning & Teaching, Messages

August is a strange time of the year on campus, with many colleagues away from the University either doing research or enjoying a well-earned break.

However, for a number of colleagues, August on campus is a very busy month – including admissions, pre-sessional classes, Moodle updates, teaching room refurbishments, timetabling, and of course, for some of us, analysis of the National Student Survey (NSS) results.

Whilst NSS scores are certainly not the ultimate aim of our learning and teaching, the survey is important in terms of our external profile and reputation, and providing us with valuable and helpful feedback from our students.

The introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the metrics of which will include certain elements of the NSS, is an added incentive to continue to focus on enhancing our learning and teaching provision.

A real team effort

I was delighted to see that we had once again achieved a very good result. 90% of our final year students were satisfied with their overall experience (the UK average for HEIs was 86%), placing us 14th in the overall satisfaction rankings, alongside Oxford and Cambridge among others.

Moreover, eleven of our programmes received a remarkable 100% overall satisfaction, and a number of our departments also received very high overall satisfaction scores, most notably Chemistry, which achieved a score of 99%.

The results are testament to the hard work of all colleagues involved in supporting our students – academics and professional services alike – and especially Directors of Studies. It is a culture of commitment of individual staff members that makes Bath so successful in learning and teaching.

No room for complacency

While I am pleased with the results, I am very aware that there is no room for complacency, there is a lot to be done and we must continue to listen to, and work with, our staff and students to make things even better.

This is especially the case in two areas: our scores on Feedback and Assessment were not good, despite the efforts by staff in recent years to improve the timing, quality and clarity of our feedback.

There are no quick-fix answers, but I will be expecting departments and Faculties to work with the proposed new Centre for Learning and Teaching, which will include staff with a specific remit of supporting colleagues with curriculum and assessment design, including feedback.

The results regarding Learning Resources were particularly disappointing, especially given how hard staff in the Library have worked to support students. This was highlighted in last year’s Students’ Union Top 10 and we have been working hard to improve and develop learning spaces, including developing a student learning zone at Manvers Street, transforming part of 6 West South into a student learning and social space and creating dedicated learning space in the recently opened 10 West and 4 East South.

More needs to be done, but we are working closely with the Students’ Union (SU), and further initiatives are in the pipeline.

Working in partnership with students

Talking of working closely with the Students’ Union, I was particularly pleased to find that the SU had improved their overall satisfaction score from last year, achieving 83%, which maintains their position among the leading Students’ Unions in the country.

I am very proud of the close and productive working relationship we have with our Students’ Union, which I think has been key to our success in learning and teaching, and hugely beneficial in terms of developing student engagement in all areas of the University.

While we promote student engagement for many reasons to do with academic, social and personal development, it should be good news for us, that from 2017 the NSS will include new questions specifically focussed on student engagement.

You can read more about the changes to the NSS online.

Much to be proud of

The slim margins between rankings in the NSS tables reflect such a fine line between the top universities that focussing simply on overall position is of limited value.

What our results do show, however, is an extraordinary consistency over the past six years in delivering high quality learning and teaching. The University can provide the support to staff and students, but the results are a testament to the commitment and efforts of all of those colleagues involved in learning and teaching.

Thank you for all your efforts.

 

 

 

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) blog

  

📥  Learning & Teaching, Messages

With the scale of change facing the HE sector, this is a challenging time, but also one full of opportunity for Bath. It is in this context that we have been developing our new Education Strategy and looking at how we can best continue to deliver high quality learning and teaching.

I am therefore pleased to share our proposals for the establishment of a Centre for Learning & Teaching that will replace the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Office (LTEO) and be the dynamic focus for our learning and teaching support for academic staff and students.

Creating a Centre for Learning & Teaching

The proposed Centre for Learning & Teaching will develop the expertise of the former LTEO in four areas:

  • Academic Staff Development
  • Curriculum Development
  • Technology-Enhanced Learning
  • Student Engagement

A key feature will be the change to its leadership. It will have an Academic Director (0.5 FTE) with an Education and Research background to ensure that the Centre will be strongly connected to our education priorities, offering greater support for our teaching staff.

Greater alignment of services

We are also proposing that quality assurance functions and expertise be relocated to the Academic Registry so that Quality Assurance and regulation can be more productively aligned. Changes in the national quality assessment framework, the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), and the chance to introduce greater flexibility into our own practices within the University, give us the opportunity to refocus on new priorities, and take forward work which has already begun in the last few months.

A new strategic direction

Over the last ten years, the LTEO has supported learning and teaching in line with our institutional needs. Across the University there is a shared sense both of the important contribution made by LTEO colleagues and the need to enhance these contributions in a changing HE context.

The proposals include changes to staffing at some levels, primarily due to the changes in leadership and management roles and associated support. They also relocate some existing staff to other Professional Services where this will bring greater coherence to their work. Other roles will be created, mainly within new areas of activity to reflect the changing focus of our needs in learning and teaching.

Following a consultation process over the next month, I would hope to be able to give more detail about the final shape of the CLT in September.

 

VC visits Academic Skills Centre

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📥  Visits to departments

Dame Glynis joined Maggie Ward Goodbody, Director of the Academic Skills Centre, as they stepped into a teacher training session to see the Centre in action.

Twenty-three academics from Brazil were learning how to teach academic writing to their colleagues and students, led by Diana Hopkins, Academic Skills Course Leader. The course is a unique collaboration with Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), an international partner and among the leading universities in Latin America.

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Dame Glynis meets colleagues from Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

Dame Glynis said: “It’s wonderful to see you here. I’m very pleased our two universities are working together and I know, having spoken to your VC, how important this training is for Unicamp.”

As well as studying hard, she encouraged the group to “get out and enjoy our great city”.

Moving along the 1 West corridor, Dame Glynis met with colleagues over refreshments to hear about other elements of the Centre’s work.

Dame Glynis chats to staff from the Academic Skills Centre

Staff from the Academic Skills Centre talk to the VC about their work

Jo Lewis, Head of Pre-sessional, spoke about the programme, which acts as a springboard to a range of courses, helping overseas students develop their academic skills and understand the expectations of study in the UK.

Miranda Armstrong, Head of Academic Skills Programmes, talked about the help students receive to attain the highest levels of academic achievement. Tom Reid, Academic Skills Course Leader, added that new sessions developed and delivered in conjunction with the Faculty of Engineering & Design were building students’ real world skills.

Jackie Dannatt, Writing Centre Leader, and Justin Alam, Teaching Fellow, outlined the Writing Centre’s provision for postgraduates and Dame Glynis encouraged them to contribute to the activities in the new graduate study space in 10 West.

Dame Glynis with Bev Howard, Finance & Admissions Officer

Dame Glynis with Bev Howard, Finance & Admissions Officer

Head of Academic Skills Resources, Sarah Turpin, gave Dame Glynis an advance look at the Reflective Writing e-learning project offering online learning that can be easily adapted to provide subject-specific resources.

Dame Glynis said: “Thank you, it has been fascinating. It is good to see such a commitment to ensuring students successfully manage the transition on to our courses, something we will need to further focus on as we welcome more postgraduate students.”

 

VC visit to the Bio Sciences Service Unit

  

📥  Visits to departments

For her next department visit, Dame Glynis visited part of the Faculty of Science Technical Services, and met the dedicated team who look after the Bio Sciences Service Unit.

After donning clogs and a lab coat and passing through the dust-free ‘air shower’, the Senior Technician guided Dame Glynis around the Unit which houses a variety of rodents to support health and medical research at the University.

The tour covered the purpose-built facilities designed to meet the very latest guidelines on animal health and welfare, showing where staff carry out their research work and the animals are housed, with each species given in its own carefully controlled climate environment.

A series of posters lining the walls demonstrated some of the ongoing research projects, including understanding a human disease gene using zebrafish genetic models and investigating early embryonic development using a mouse model.

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A five-day-old zebrafish embryo informs research into human disease genes

Members of the team, with over 100 years of animal care between them, chatted to Dame Glynis and explained how the animals are looked after.

As part of promoting openness on animal research, the Unit has hosted a number of 'getting to know animal research' visits by local schools and others and regularly supplies information on animal research in response to enquiries.

More information on some of the current research projects is available online.

Understanding earlyembryonic development using a mouse model and alternative methods

Understanding early embryonic development using a mouse model