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.
Dame Glynis Breakwell