Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Preview: VC's Report to Senate - 3 Feb 2016

  

📥  On campus

1. Research developments

1.1 Nurse Review of Research Councils

The review of the UK Research Councils by Sir Paul Nurse has proposed a new body called ‘Research UK’ to coordinate the seven research councils and take the lead in shaping and driving a strategic approach to science funding; it also suggested the body could allocate research funding currently administered by HEFCE. The Autumn Statement stated that the recommendation of the review had been accepted by Government.

1.2 Review of university research funding

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson launched a UK-wide review of university research funding on 16 December 2015. The stated aims are to cut red tape so that universities can focus more on delivering the world-leading research for which the UK is renowned and help ensure the government gets the most return from its investment. The review will be chaired by the President of the British Academy and former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Nicholas Stern. He will be assisted by a steering group of academic experts, including the Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, Professor Julia King, and the Past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Professor Sir John Tooke. Lord Stern is expected to deliver his review of the REF to the government in summer 2016.

1.3 Growth in our research power

Following the decision by the University to grow its graduate student numbers and research power, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) is working with Deans and professional services towards identifying research areas in which the University could increase its research base. This involves analysis of external need drivers, funding opportunities, and of our current and potential research strengths.

2. Green Paper ‘Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’

The consultation period for the green paper published by BIS ended on 15 January. The University submitted a response which welcomed the focus on the quality of teaching and the student experience but raised a number of concerns, including:

  • the potential risk to the international reputation of English universities, and the differential bureaucratic burden, if the new regulatory system and Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) are not adopted by the devolved administrations;
  • the lack of reassurance regarding the governance/independence of the proposed Office for Students (OfS);
  • the mismatch between the focussed regulatory remit of the OfS and the broader research, social and economic roles of traditional universities;
  • the phased development of the new TEF and the relevance of some of the indicative metrics, particularly proportion of teaching staff on permanent contracts and ‘learning gain’;
  • the overall financial impact of the proposed regulatory system, TEF and contingency actions.

View the Green paper.

3. Reviews of Learning and Teaching and Quality Assessment

3.1 HEFCE Review of Learning and Teaching and the Student Experience

The University has submitted its response to the review by HEFCE and the other funding councils of information about learning and teaching and the student experience.

View the consultation document.

3.2 Quality Assessment Framework

HEFCE has published a summary of the responses to its consultation on quality assessment. The proposals to reform quality assessment were broadly supported. The BIS Select Committee, chaired by Iain Wright MP, heard evidence in early December and is expected to report in January.

4. HEFCE’s 2014/15 postgraduate support scheme

Our pilot project was one of 20 selected by HEFCE as part of a highly competitive process in order to test initiatives to encourage more students (particularly from under-represented groups) to undertake postgraduate taught study. The project, overseen by a steering group chaired by Professor Bernie Morley, developed a new 15 month Masters programme in MSc Modern Building Design in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. The programme was developed in close collaboration with industry and includes an integral placement component; it was only open to UK/EU students in the first year. Despite a tight timescale, 16 UK/EU students are nearing completion with 80% of the initial cohort receiving employment offers before the end of the programme. A mini-MOOC will also launch in February. As project funding was solely dedicated to the 2014/15 cohort, the programme is proving sustainable going forward with 19 students from 10 different countries recruited in 2015/16.

5. GW4

GW4 is co-ordinating a regional Expression of Interest into the BIS Call for Science and Innovation audits. Up to ten of the initial submissions (to be submitted by 19 January) are expected to be supported and will then go through to a regional audit process with an appointed analytical contractor. BIS expect to see submissions which demonstrate how universities are working with the regional economic strengths to improve competitiveness and raise productivity. It is expected that this will be the first of several such Calls from BIS leading eventually to national coverage.

6. University Strategy

As reported to Senate in December 2015 (paper S15/16-45), the University is starting to develop a new public Research Strategy and Learning & Teaching Strategy as part of the new University Strategy. The Research Committee and the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee are considering the current articulation of our institutional strengths and our definitions of excellence in these two domains. On 13 January 2016, Executive Committee was briefed on the various work streams that are being undertaken in order to progress our goal of becoming an international leader in graduate education. A progress report will be made to Council on 25 February.

7. International Engagements

7.1 I visited the UAE with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) (PVCI) and Director of Development and Alumni Relations from 17-20 January to engage with leading benefactors, Bath alumni, the British Embassy and key university leaders in Dubai. I and the PVCI then visited Jordan as guests of their royal highnesses Prince El Hassan and Princess Sarvath. One highlight of the visit was the launch of a partnership between the Amman Baccalaureate School and our Department of Education, represented by Dr Mary Hayden and Professor Jeff Thompson. Further discussions focused on our expertise in research in migration and social protection in SPS and the IPR.

7.2 The PVCI was invited by the Ministry of Education in Peru to give a keynote address on university autonomy and recent changes in the UK HE landscape (8-11 December). There is outline agreement to develop leadership capacity in Peru’s university system. The PVC also visited Peru’s leading university – the Pontifícia Universidad Católica – to promote ties with our political scientists. The School of Management DBA team (Professor Rajani Naidoo, Professor Jürgen Enders and Dr Robin Shields) delivered the first residential of the new 27-strong South African cohort at NMMU, Port Elizabeth from 23-29 January. The University Librarian visited Stellenbosch University with the International Partnerships Manager, Ms Katja Nieminen, in January with a view to developing joint doctorates and improving inter-library partnership.

7.3 The Agents’ Conference, 2-4 December 2015: The International Relations Office welcomed 29 of our international representatives from 16 different countries to Bath for a three-day event showcasing our departments and services. Our educational agents are responsible for over £8 million in overseas fee income into the University every year and are a key resource in promoting our programmes worldwide.

7.4 The Department of Chemistry hosted a delegation of ten researchers from Turkey working on Energy and Health on 12 January. Representatives from Izmir Institute of Technology, Middle East Technical University, Sabanci University and Baskent University, amongst others, visited the UK in celebration of the UK-Turkey Year of Science and Innovation 2015-16.

8. Academic Skills Centre

A new skills centre for the University has brought together the Academic Skills Centre (ASC) and the Foreign Languages Centre to operate as one independent entity reporting directly to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching). Maggie Ward Goodbody, formerly Director of the ASC, has become overall Director. It will allow us to enhance our provision of skills development for all our students, both undergraduate and postgraduate.

9. Visits to Departments

Since my last report I have visited the Department of Physics (12 January) and Finance at 18 Manvers Street on 2 February.

10. Other University news

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

10.1 Professor James Davenport has been awarded a Fellowship by the Software Sustainability Institute. The Institute has appointed 17 Fellows to take forward their plans to improve research software and make a difference in their research domains.

10.2 Two prestigious ESRC Future Leaders Awards were achieved in November by Dr Katie Maras in Psychology and Dr Michael Donnelly in Education, at a value of £225,000 each.

10.3 Recent significant grant awards include:

Description Funder Principal Investigator £Amount
Understanding the Evolutionary Origins and Molecular Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Peptide Resistance BBSRC Dr Susanne Gebhard 415,580
Augmentation of Alkaline Earth Reactivity: An FLP Analogy EPSRC Professor Michael Hill 739,054
SPARK - Spatial Augmented Reality as a Key for Co-Creativity EU - Horizon 2020 Dr Elies Dekoninck 270,358
Integrated Energy Efficient Microwave and Unique Fermentation Processes for Pilot Scale Production of High Value Chemical from Lignocellulosic Waste EPSRC Dr Chris Chuck 1,689,779
EvoGenMed European Research Council Professor Laurence Hurst 1,506,997
Investigating the Principles of Trans-acting Long Non-Coding RNA Genomic Targeting and Chromatin Regulation BBSRC Dr Keith Vance 514,161
Modelling, Computation and Analysis of Droplets Guided by Faraday Waves: A Complex System with Macroscopic Quantum Analogies EPSRC Professor Paul Milewski 316,872

10.4 The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of Action on Addiction, visited the charity’s Centre for Addiction Treatment Studies in Warminster on 10 December to see its work providing training, education and professional development for those working in addiction and related fields and to help celebrate 10 years of the Centre’s partnership with the University.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

Vice-Chancellor

 

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.

 

Inter-institutional collaborations in doctoral training provision

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📥  Celebrating successes

Following the University’s successful bid for funding from the Higher Education Academy (HEA), a project is underway to assess our training for postgraduate research students within inter-university partnerships.

The project is considering ways to:

  • enhance the experience for doctoral training students from application to employability;
  • create more efficient procedures and more effective deployment of resources (benefiting both the University and our partners);
  • develop good practice applicable across the sector.

A series of face-to-face interviews is planned for the next phase of the project and Dr Susanna Martin will be joining the team on Monday 1 February to assist with the collation and analysis of data. Professor Jonathan Knight, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Project Manager said:

“Having completed her PhD at Bath, Susanna is well placed to evaluate the support available to doctoral students and the ways in which their experience might be enhanced. Her experience of working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology will also be invaluable.”

It is anticipated that the project findings will help to inform the University’s new Strategy for 2016-19 and help us to achieve our ambition of being recognised internationally as a top university for graduate education.

 

Vice-Chancellor visits Department of Physics

  

📥  On campus, Visits to departments

From light streaming through medieval stained glass windows to young galaxies at the edges of the known Universe, the first Vice-Chancellor’s visit of 2016 took Dame Glynis on a wide ranging tour of the Department of Physics’ research, teaching, staff and students.

Professor Simon Bending, Head of Department, and members of the Department Executive and Research Group Leaders welcomed Dame Glynis with an overview of the department, from the rapid rise in entrance requirements from AAB in 2011 to A*AA, to the active PhySoc excursions.

Professor Carole Mundell then spoke about her vision for the new Astrophysics Group, drawing together physics, maths and computer simulation to understand the most extreme environments in the Universe.

Next up was a tour of the Centre for Photonics & Photonic Materials, with Dr Peter Mosley explaining how the two fibre towers generate temperatures of 2,000 degrees to create unique hollow optical fibres, while students drew lengths of the material that can be used to guide light for applications including precise surgical incision.

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The Vice-Chancellor with Dr Ventsislav Valev and PhD students in the new laser laboratory

Royal Society Fellow Dr Ventsislav Valev introduced the new laser laboratory and PhD students Joel Collins, Christian Kuppe and David Hooper spoke about their research, which included mixing the same coloured laser light to create a new colour and particles of gold creating the red panes of stained glass windows; and twisting light to reverse normal refraction – as when you see an object in water – to create negative refractive index. The latter is being investigated due to its potential for invisibility cloaking.

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Dr Carolin Villforth talks through images from the Hubble space telescope

A packed tour of demonstrations in the teaching laboratories then covered everything from the evolution of galaxies using Hubble space telescope images with Dr Stijn Wuyts and Dr Carolin Villforth and students building their own radioscopes with Dr Steven Davies, to water flowing uphill in the Leidenfrost Maze with Dr Kei Takashina, as seen on QI.

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Dame Glynis tries out the Leidenfrost Maze with Dr Kei Takashina

Dame Glynis then spoke to staff and students gathered for tea and coffee in the Physics square on level 3 of 3 West.

“Thank you for sparing your time; it has been fascinating seeing the big questions you seek to answer every day, and I wish I could stay for longer.

“The big question I am dealing with is how, as a university, we develop to become the graduate education provider of choice.

“It was very interesting to hear what you aim to achieve over the next five years, including growing your postgraduate programmes and improving the staff-student ratio.

“These are integral to some of the key elements we are developing as part of our new University Strategy - expanding our graduate offer and increasing the number of academic staff - and we will do all we can to support you turning your plans into reality.”

 

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)

 

Schedule of VC Visits in 2016

  

📥  Visits to departments

The Vice-Chancellor will be taking part in a series of informal visits to departments across the University in 2016.

The visits give Dame Glynis the chance to meet staff in their own workplace and find out more about their work and that of their department.

They are also an opportunity for the Vice-Chancellor and colleagues to exchange thoughts on the future direction of the University.

You can read about what happened during each visit in the write-ups that we post on the Staff Homepage shortly afterwards.

Date Department
12-Jan-16 Physics
01-Feb-16 Finance (Manvers St)
17-Feb-16 Careers Service
01-Mar-16 Marketing & Communications
12-Apr-16 Student Services
21-Jul-16 Faculty Office - Engineering & Design
11-May-16 Development & Alumni Relations
07-Jun-16 Academic Registry
14-Jun-16 Faculty Technical Services - Science
06-Jul-16 Academic Skills Centre
20-Sep-16 Student Recruitment & Admissions Office
12-Oct-16 Hospitality
02-Nov-15 Sports Development & Recreation
23-Nov-16 Computing Services
14-Dec-16 International Office

To read about previous visits, please see the posts below.

If you have any questions about the visits, please contact comms@bath.ac.uk.

 

New Year message from the Vice-Chancellor

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📥  Messages

To all my colleagues across the entire University,

As we start 2016, I wanted both to express my appreciation for all you have done to make the last year such a success and to look ahead to this year in which we celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Our University was founded by Royal Charter in October 1966 ‘to advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research, particularly in science and technology, and in close association with industry and commerce.’

Since then our success has helped to shape the success of the city of Bath and its surrounding area. Directly or indirectly the University is now estimated to support over 5,500 jobs in and around Bath. Within the Bath and North East Somerset area alone, our net economic contribution is over £300 million each year.

With our Sports Training Village and the opening of The Edge we make a significant impact on sporting and cultural life.

For the past three years we have been investing over £1,000,000 per week in improving our University infrastructure and we are committed to continue at that level for the next four years.

In the next few months, we will see the opening of new buildings: 10 West (which will be the home of the Department of Psychology, the Institute for Policy Research, and the Research Commons for graduate students) and 4 East South (for the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering and Computing Services).  In addition, we will finally take complete possession of the building, previously known as the Police Station, in Manvers Street in the centre of Bath and we will re-front and refurbish it to provide a state-of-the-art centre for student study.

None of this would be possible without you. It is gratifying to see how our excellence in research, teaching and the wider student experience is being increasingly recognised not only nationally but internationally:

According to the QS international ranking, we are the highest placed University of our age in Europe and seventh in the world.

Bath alumnus Dr Jonathan Milner’s confidence in the quality and ambition of our research inspired him to give us £5 million to create a new Centre in Evolutionary Biology.

Our Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation will help us shape thinking around the enormous potential of advanced data analytics to drive innovation and change.

We have recently announced a ground-breaking partnership for the School of Management with the Government of South Africa to provide doctoral level leadership training to senior South African Higher Education professionals at all 26 of their public universities.

Three of our colleagues have been funded as Future Research Leaders in social sciences by the Economic & Social Research Council.

Our Setsquared business incubation activities have been ranked number one in the world.

These are just a few examples of what made 2015 such a momentous year for our University community.

But this is no time to rest on our laurels.  The world of higher education is changing continuously. We must be ready to address the challenges and opportunities ahead with increasing ingenuity and agility.

Both the Senate and Council of the University have agreed that this is the right time to take our University forward towards our new strategic goal of being an international leader in graduate education and to provide the resources needed to grow the volume of research we conduct. We will be recruiting more researchers and investing to create a more vibrant environment for capturing the minds and money that make discovery and impact possible.  We will be ensuring that the professional and support services are developed in step with these changes.

We will be shifting the balance of our student population towards postgraduates whilst at the same time stabilising the number of undergraduates we recruit. As we take the steps needed to provide excellence in all aspects of our doctoral training and masters programmes we must also focus on enhancing the quality of the academic and extracurricular experience our undergraduates have here.

We must continue to improve our infrastructure - here and off-campus. This will allow us to provide the sort of facilities graduate students need while never losing sight of the requirements of undergraduates and our broader community of staff.

We must further strengthen our international profile. By establishing innovative joint teaching and research programmes with universities outside of the UK we will succeed in recruiting more of the most able international students and secure the collaborations needed to enhance the global impact of our research.

Our 50th year will be both a year of celebration and the year in which we lay the foundations of our future success.  As I look forward to working with you to realise this ambition, I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contribution to what our University has already achieved.  Without your commitment and talent we would not have come so far and would not be ready now to go so very much further.

I wish that 2016 is a vintage year for all of us.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell's signature

Dame Glynis Breakwell

Vice-Chancellor

January 2016

 

Let's Talk Q&A: University Strategy 2016-19

  

📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - In terms of the growth of the postgraduate student number, what sort of funding arrangements are going to be in place in order to grow the number significantly as you want to? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: One change that is going to be happening soon is that the UK Government is going to introduce loans for postgraduate taught provision. The scale of the loans available will make a significant impact on what is available to people and how we can use these as a part of the expansion.

I do not propose that we grow suddenly. What we want is a considered growth alongside the funding options as they become available, some of which will be related to our international profile of University activity.

Professor Jonathan Knight: Through many of our postgraduate programmes we will be looking for a mix of UK, EU and international students, and that is beneficial in financial terms. This combination makes the University an attractive option for investment and is also something that local and international students are looking for in their place of study.

In postgraduate research there are no single easy answers. In my career it has usually been the case that you have the money but you don’t have the student, or you have the student but you don’t have the money.

We need to put a framework in place to get high quality PGR students and any framework that we put in place to attract students, I think will also attract investment. Our approach does need to be focussed, we need to look at what areas we can create packages in that will attract both investment and students.


November 2015

Q - Where are you going to house the proposed extra postgraduate students? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Steve Egan: There are still development opportunities on campus that are being explored. We are looking into developing accommodation on and off-campus which not only provides the numbers, but the quality that this type of student would expect. Looking at other institutions that have a high number of postgraduate students, it is clear that they have a different set of needs to undergraduates. It is not just about producing more of the same, it is about producing something different that would be part of the package that would attract them to the University of Bath.


November 2015

Q - What are you going to do to encourage more women into postgraduate science study? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: Currently we are subscribed to the Aurora Project in terms of supporting women, we are encouraging all departments to take part in the Athena Swan Initiative, and other projects are going on simultaneously and are successful, but there are still things that we need to learn to do better. The will is there, it is a question of knowing how to make it happen, and it is something that we are working on.


November 2015

Q - What are you going to do to support people with mental health issues? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: A very significant set of questions need to be asked to identify the University’s role in this area, and how we work with other organisations across the NHS and social care services in a way which is effective. This needs to be addressed, not just by this institution, but all institutions over the next few years.


November 2015

Q - Will the growth in postgraduate recruitment come with a growth in Widening Participation activities in PGT and PGR recruitment? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: The extent to which we can do that effectively depends upon the design of the model that the Government has for its new loans structure, for PGT in particular. From what has been released by the Government so far, I understand that there will be an attempt to use the loans structure to encourage those that would otherwise not be able to participate in postgraduate education to go on and continue their studies. We need to gear up to take advantage of the new loans structure.

Professor Bernie Morley: Up until now the Office for Fair Access has not allowed us to use our access funds for postgraduate education. We have negotiated an agreement with the Director of Office where we have been able to give several bursaries to postgraduate students with WP characteristics. This is not standard practice. In the past I have written letters to the Director of Office requesting to use our funds to support them moving on to postgraduate education at another institution, but we have been denied.

The system works on the same premise as our current work with schools: if the students go to another university that is a success for which we get no credit, as we only get credit for those who come here. It is unfortunate if that is the same for postgraduates, we are not allowed to support students who move on elsewhere, but only our students who stay here for postgraduate education. The system does not allow for that currently, but hopefully with the new loans scheme that will change.


November 2015

Q - You said there will not be expansion for PGR all across the board, but regulated in areas where it was strategic to invest; I wonder if you could tell us what the mechanism will be to make those decisions? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Jonathan Knight: Just to clarify – we will not restrict research student growth in any areas. My point was answering the question of where the funding would come from to address these areas, and I think it is realistic to say that we would struggle to find funding in every area.

It is inevitable that we will have to invest in certain areas to make it work. I think that there is a relatively wide variability in the quality of PGR student provision and what we believe is essential is to provide a uniformly high level of research student experience.

As to the mechanism, there is not currently a long term answer for that. In the long term we will have to respond to the opportunities that are out there in terms of students and funders. In the shorter term we need to look at where there is capacity, and where there is good practice that we can build in. Currently this conversation is taking place at a point in the development of ideas which is relatively early, so we do not have a fully formulated mechanism in place yet.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: Whatever that mechanism is, it will be developed with engagement with the academic community, we will need the best ideas coming forward from the entire community to help us make sure the University is going forward in the right direction.

 

Let's Talk Q&A: Growth and campus

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

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.


November 2015

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.


November 2015

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)


November 2015

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)


November 2015

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.


November 2015

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.


November 2015

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.

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