Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Note from Dubai

  , , , ,

📥  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


New Year message from the Vice-Chancellor

  , ,

📥  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


January 2016


Answering your questions

📥  Let's Talk, Let's Talk Q&A

There wasn’t time to answer all the questions that were submitted prior to Let’s Talk at our event in November, so we’ve posted them on these pages. We’ve also summarised the questions asked on the day, together with the responses given.

Select from the following topics that were discussed at the November 2015 event (click the 'more' links at the bottom of the posts to see Q&As from previous sessions):


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

  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

📥  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.



Let's Talk Q&A: Learning & teaching

  , , , ,

📥  Let's Talk Q&A


November 2015

Q - Given the large number of international students can you provide more cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication training for staff? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Colin Grant: Yes, currently we are working with Staff Development on this issue. We had a forum in July bringing together a wide range of staff and also the Students’ Union to discuss what it is to engage in an intercultural space. This is ongoing and a number of training events have taken place with more to be done in the future.

I particularly want to highlight the work of the Students’ Union in fostering a culture that values an intercultural community and their work with myself, other members of the SMT and central University services on this front.

November 2015

Q -  I am sure everyone is aware of the ongoing refugee crisis on the borders of Europe, and many universities across the UK and Europe have created funded scholarships for refugees. Over 1,000 members of staff and students have signed a letter (which is yet to be delivered) asking the University to fund at least ten scholarships and partner with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) to support refugee academics. So I have two questions:

  • Do you appreciate the strength of feeling among the University community?
  • Will you do everything you can to make those ten funded refugee places a reality?

(Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: The key is that we need to work out what to do, and how to do that effectively. There are things that we could do, but what we would like to do in this situation is do the best that we possibly can.

We need to be looking at what other universities are going, and learn from their best practice.

We are signed up to CARA and we have had at least one academic come to the University from CARA, but we have had other academics come as well, from outside CARA. We haven’t made a big noise about that because it is to do with integration and treating people with equality. But now we are facing an international crisis of such a scale that it is difficult to know what is going to be most effective for the sector as a whole. I am currently exploring a more strategic response from across the sector with other people.

Professor Colin Grant: I appreciate the depth of feeling here at the University. Impact is absolutely critical to anything we do. There has to be real impact, concrete tangible improvement in people’s lives arising from any University action. We have engaged quite strongly with CARA in the very recent past, we had a senior academic in Pharmacy & Pharmacology come to Bath with his family.

Beyond that I think the University is well placed with real academic expertise in Social & Policy Sciences and other departments, with specialists who look at migration, repatriation of refugees, microfinance and interfaith understanding. This puts us in a good position to have significant dialogues with people who do have the wherewithal to make a difference in a wider region. Discussions are ongoing.

Update: Senate has agreed to discuss a report at its next meeting.

November 2015

Q - When do you hope to roll out PREVENT training to staff?
(PREVENT is part of the government counter-terrorism strategy, designed to prevent people from supporting terrorism or becoming involved in terrorism themselves)

A - Mark Humphriss, University Secretary: The University is required to provide PREVENT training to relevant staff as soon as possible as a result of the PREVENT Duty coming into force in September 2015. Our approach to PREVENT was considered recently by Council. Training and awareness-raising will be provided to relevant groups, including many student-facing professional services staff. I am currently liaising with our regional PREVENT coordinator on plans, which will start in early 2016. (Mark Humphriss, University Secretary)



Let's Talk Q&A: Staff experience

  , , , , , , , ,

📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - When can UoB staff expect to next have an opportunity to contribute to a staff satisfaction survey? (Tim Ratcliffe, Academic Skills Centre) (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A -  The survey is due to start data collection March 2016 and finish in April.

November 2015

Q - Why doesn’t the Uni offer any job share roles?

A - The University does offer job share roles. In fact, in the last three months two jobshare partners have been recruited by the University into job-share roles. Under the University’s Flexible Working & Leave Policy all staff are able to make a flexible working request including a request for flexible working and job sharing. Nearly a quarter of University staff are employed part-time, including job sharers. There are a number of successful job shares in the University, for example in our Academic Registry. (Peter Eley, Acting Director of Human Resources)



Let's Talk Q&A: Catering & food outlets

  , , , , ,

📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - The sign for the Claverton Rooms clearly states ‘Staff & PGR students only’. This is being ignored as there are many PGT and undergraduates using the space. Is there any way to enforce the rule?

A - Jane Loveys, Director of Accommodation & Hospitality Services: It is difficult for Hospitality staff to identify if those using the area are PGT or UG. We recently collected the annual VAT stats in each outlet over a two- week period which requires the till used to identify if the customer is PGR/Staff or PGT/UG. This gave the opportunity for Hospitality staff to remind any PGT/UG of the usage policy of the Claverton Rooms. (Jane Loveys, Director of Accommodation & Hospitality Services)

November 2015

Q - At the start of September the cost of coffee in the Claverton Rooms went up by 4%. Why is this rise so much more than my pay increase?

A - Hospitality costs have increased more than 4% as a result of increases in the costs of ingredients cost increases and staffing. Hospitality is not a centrally funded department and therefore needs to cover all costs.  (Jane Loveys, Director of Accommodation & Hospitality Services)

November 2015

Q - Is there anything that the University can do to discourage the sale of alcohol and its consumption on campus? Silvana Stanford, School of Management

A - Restrictions on the sale of alcohol on campus, such as from the Fresh outlets, would only be partially successful due to the ready availability of alcohol through supermarket delivery services to campus and from the large number of retail operations in the city. The Parade Bar is a food and drink outlet and although it sells alcohol it does not run any drinks promotions. All campus Retail staff and those Hospitality staff who work in the licensed areas undertake appropriate training to give them a sound knowledge of the law and responsibilities associated with selling alcohol and, for instance, will not sell alcohol to a person who is in an intoxicated state. The University’s Managing Substance Misuse Policy sets out the expectations on staff around alcohol use in working hours but makes clear that any organisational “interest” is restricted to how substance misuse might impact work attendance, workplace safety and/or performance at work. Where this is identified as a workplace issue then the University will actively seek to support employees via the University’s Health, Safety and Environment team, HR, Occupational Health and counselling to address these issues. Beyond that, the University’s Health, Safety and Environment team does not currently directly provide general wellbeing advice around alcohol consumption or the associated health impacts of alcohol use, however it does signpost external sources of support and will consider this as part of its overall wellbeing approach. (more…)