Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Let's Talk Q&A: University finances

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q: Many universities have large endowments. What is ours, and what (if any) plans are there to invest in this way long term, or is the priority to use, for example, alumni donations for immediate needs?  A: The University’s endowment at 31 July 2015 was £5.117 million. The University cannot invest in its own endowment so it can only be grown by legacies and donations, both of which we actively seek out. Most gifts to endowments come in the form of legacies and as a young institution, this has not been a major source for us until recently. However, a key element of the Look Further fundraising campaign (the 50th Anniversary fundraising campaign launched in June) is to ask more people to include the University in their will, so that, in time, the endowment will grow significantly. (Diane Aderyn, Director of Finance & Commercial Services) (more…)

 

Let's Talk Q&A: Research

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - In a University with a strong STEM and professional thread to its activities, shouldn’t we do more research into education, professional development and learning in Sciences, Engineering and Health?

A -  There is already some research involving colleagues from the Department of Education and Department for Health, though there could certainly be scope for that to be extended, as there is scope for increasing collaboration between Education and colleagues in Engineering and Science faculties - should that be strategically appropriate.

The Department of Education makes a significant contribution to the professional development of headteachers, teachers and policy makers – nationally and internationally, as well as to the skills development of educational researchers. Some Education colleagues have an interest in science education, though this tends to be at school rather than HE level.

And of course the School of Management also makes a significant contribution to professional development across the enterprise sector. The Department of Social & Policy Sciences also provides the best training for social work practitioners in the UK. (Mary Hayden, Head, Department of Education)

(more…)

 

Preview: VC's Report to Senate - 2 Dec 2015

  

📥  On campus

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

A green paper was published by BIS on behalf of the Minister of Higher Education, Jo Johnson, on 6 November. There is a ten week consultation period. Read the Green Paper.

The green paper includes proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which is intended to allow providers with high quality teaching to increase their fees in line with inflation from the 2017/18 academic year; providers achieving the first level of the TEF, equivalent to a recent successful quality assessment (QA) review, would be eligible for this fee increase. The Green Paper also proposes to reduce the number of organisations that have a publicly funded regulatory role, by merging those functions into a single student champion organisation: the Office for Students (OfS). It would potentially bring together access agreements, teaching funding, TEF and quality assurance into a single body. Further information will be provided orally at the meeting.

2.            Reviews of Learning and Teaching and Quality Assessment

2.1   HEFCE Review of Learning and Teaching and the Student Experience

HEFCE and the other funding councils are undertaking a major review of information about learning and teaching and the student experience. A consultation document has been released outlining proposals for a future arrangements.  It sets out proposed changes to information published on Unistats and by universities, as well as significant changes to the NSS questions.  The proposals include transferring responsibility for publishing information on learning, teaching and assessment back to universities and how to survey PGT students. Read consultation document.

The University will be submitting a response to HEFCE by the deadline of 4 December.

2.2       Quality Assessment Framework

On 29 June, HEFCE published a consultation to mark the second phase of a review of quality approaches. See Read review document. The University submitted a response by the deadline of 18 September 2015. The responses are now being analysed by HEFCE and the outcomes of the consultation will be published over the winter.

3.         Consumer regulation

In keeping with other universities, we have taken a number of steps to ensure compliance with consumer regulation.  The Green Paper reinforces the Government’s interest in this area.  The University Secretary is leading a task and finish group which is ensuring that sustainable arrangements are in place such that we make available on an ongoing basis and in the relevant form all the information which we are expected to provide.

4.         GW4

I have been appointed as the new Chair of the GW4 Council.  The Council is responsible for defining GW4’s strategic direction comprises the Vice-Chancellors of the four leading research-intensive universities in the South West of England and Wales: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. GW4 is currently finalising its new research strategy.

5.            Research Institutes - Institute of Mathematical Innovation

The Institute’s successful launch event was held on 28 October 2015 in the Assembly Rooms in Bath. Professor Tony Dooley is leaving the University and a new Director is being sought. A report of the Institute’s work can be found elsewhere in the papers for this meeting.

6.            Admissions 2016

Admissions figures for Home/EU undergraduates for 2016 entry are positive and are similar to the same point last year (up to 1 November), whilst the average for all HEIs is showing a drop. Overseas applications have dropped slightly. A further more detailed report will be brought to the February meeting.

7.         Internationalisation

7.1 International Partnerships

- The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) presented a paper on the University and its Brazilian partners at a meeting of Coimbra Group of Brazilian Rectors organised by UUK on 30 October.

- A delegation comprising representatives from Pharmacy and Pharmacology, School of Management, Psychology and Education visited Taylor’s University, a University Strategic Partners in Education, in late October, to further advance and develop departmental level collaborations. Members of the delegation also visited University Sains Malaysia (USM) to deepen the dialogue initiated during the recent visit to Bath by USM senior managers. The group met with the USM Vice-Chancellor and were able to identify a number of mutual interests in research and education.

- A delegation from Pharmacy and Pharmacology led by Professor Stephen Ward visited Zhejiang University in late October to develop a programme of specific collaborations in research and education.

- A School of Management delegation led by Professor Veronica Hope-Hailey visited Stellenbosch Business School from 27-29 October to explore mutual interests in a wide range of activities including executive development, research collaborations, staff and student mobility.

7.2       International Funding

The first call of 2015-2016 Bath International Research Funding Schemes closed on 19 October. 18 awards were awarded, 16 of which including University or Faculty level strategic partners. Additional recent external international grant successes also include:

- Royal Society Newton International Exchanges Scheme: Dr Jonathan Evans (Mathematical Science) with University of Sao Paulo at Sao Carlos - £12,000.

- British Council (UK-Turkey) Researcher Links Workshop Grant: Dr Pedro Estrela (Electronic and Electrical Engineering) with Gediz University, Turkey - £32,000.

- Newton Advanced Fellowship: Professor Andreas Kyprianou (Mathematical Science) with CIMAT, Mexico - £81,000.

7.3       International Mobility

The University welcomed 162 new incoming exchange students at the beginning of the academic year, as compared to 138 last year. This reflects the increased interest in Bath students wishing to take part in international mobility during their study.

7.4       International Student Recruitment

International student recruitment in 2015 has been one of the most successful in recent years, with significant increases at all levels (UG: +12%, PGT: +23% and PGR: +14%).  The University has also improved the nationality diversity of its newly enrolled student population, with a notable increase in number of students coming from India (+36), one of the University’s established markets. The University has also performed well in new markets, such as Kazakhstan (eight newly enrolled students, as compared to none last year).

8.         Other University News

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

8.1       The recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Medal 2015 will be Professor Laurence Hurst.

8.2       Recent significant grant awards include:

Description Funder Principal Investigator £Amount
 Early Career Fellowship - Mathematical Analysis of Strongly Correlated Processes on Discrete Dynamic Structures  EPSRC  Dr Alexandre De Oliveira Stauffer  886,922
 UK Quantum Technology Hub: NQIT - Networked Quantum Information Technologies  EPSRC  Dr Peter Mosley  428,516
 Characterising the Epitanscriptome Using Catalysis-Dependent RIPseq Approaches  EPSRC  Dr Shobbir Hussain  336,098
 DHARMA - Design for Hybrid Manufacture  EPSRC  Dr Vimal Dhokia  260,774

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
Vice-Chancellor

 

Technology Panel Debate with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching)

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📥  Celebrating successes

The first LITEbox event of the new semester kicked off on 15 October with Professor Peter Lambert, the University's recently appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching), chairing a debate on the uses of new and existing technologies to a packed lecture theatre.

Commenting on the event, Professor Lambert said: "I very much enjoyed chairing such a well-attended and dynamic event, particularly with such a mixed audience of both academic and Professional Services staff from across the University"

For the full review read the LITEbox blog here.

 

 

Preview: VC's Report to Senate - 14 Oct 2015

  

📥  On campus

1. League Tables

1.1 The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide

The University was ranked 12th out of 127 institutions in the The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016 published on 20 September 2015.  The University was ranked in 7th place in the graduate salaries table, the highest ranked institution excluding Oxford, Cambridge and London-based institutions.   This national league table was the first to use a 0.2 fte weighting for placement students in the SSR calculation rather than the HESA-derived 0.5 fte. This has improved the SSR figure for Bath as we have a high number of students on placements. The University has been lobbying HESA to amend its SSR calculation methodology and we will be taking advantage of the national consultation to highlight once again how the 0.5fte weighting disadvantages universities like ours with a large proportion of placement students.
 
1.2 QS World University Rankings

The University has risen 20 places in this year’s QS World University Rankings, from 179 to 159. The table ranks nearly 900 national and international universities and Bath is one of 30 UK universities to be ranked in the top 200. The rankings assess each university in four main areas - research, teaching, employability and international outlook using six indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, citations by faculty, international staff ratio and international student ratio. Bath performed particularly well in terms of employer reputation and is ranked 77th out of the 891 global universities for this indicator.

1.3 The Times Higher Education (THE ) World Ranking

The University has also improved its position in the THE world ranking from 301-350 to 251-300. The THE rank 800 institutions worldwide.  Given our investment in internationalisation, it is particularly gratifying that we appear in the top decile for international outlook. The performance indicators used in the ranking are weighted in the following proportions: Teaching 30%, Research 30%, Citations 30%, International outlook 7.5%, Industry income 2.5%.

1.4  National Student Survey

The University has achieved a good set of results in the NSS 2015 survey, recording 90% for ‘Overall satisfaction’.  Although this represents a three percentage point drop from last year and means a drop in national rankings (from joint 1st to joint 15th) the University still exceeds the sector average.  This is the fifth year in succession that the University has achieved 90% or more. A paper later on the agenda gives a full report.

1.5  Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2015

The Higher Education Academy’s (HEA’s) Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) has closed, achieving an overall response rate of 54%, an increase of fifteen percentage points on the last survey in 2013 and four percentage points above the University's target response rate. The University has received the results (including sector benchmarking) which are available to view on the Registry webpages, and is working with the Students’ Union and their Postgraduate Research Academic Representatives to review the results and develop joint Action Plans to address the results of the survey at all levels of the institution. A report will be made to the next meeting of University Research Students Committee.

2. Students’ Union Top Ten Issues

Each summer the Students’ Union identifies its Top Ten Issues of concern to the student body, on which it then works with the University in the coming year.  The Top Ten Issues for 2015/16 are to:

  • Lobby to increase space to work in the Library
  • Secure fixed fees for international students for the duration of their programme
  • Campaign to improve exam feedback
  • Ensure easy access to effective mental health support
  • Increase support for postgraduate students who teach
  • Challenge costs on campus
  • Develop clear group work policies in each department
  • Improve prayer room facilities on campus
  • Make sure unit evaluations are effectively addressed and actions communicated.
  • Lobby for improved housing standards.

I look forward to working with the Students’ Union on these issues.

3. Open Day

September's Open Day was another great success. Despite some indifferent weather, it was another very busy day on campus with an estimated 12,000 visitors coming to see what we have to offer here at Bath. As usual there was a lot of positive feedback and nothing but praise for the welcome visitors received from our staff and Student Ambassadors. Thanks to the hard work of colleagues in the Department of Estates, The Parade and the campus in general were looking at their best, and with the help of our excellent Student Ambassadors, staff volunteers and Students’ Union societies there was a great atmosphere and buzz around campus.

4.  Research Institutes

4.1  Institute for Policy Research

The new Director of the University's Institute for Policy Research (IPR) will be Nick Pearce, former Head of the Policy Unit at Number 10. Already a member of the IPR’s advisory board, his extensive policy experience and public profile will enable the Institute to further enhance its impact and forge deeper links between academic research and policy-makers. He will start his new role in December.

This year the IPR also launched a brand-new Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice for established practitioners. The first cohort of students include individuals working in a variety of international and national policy settings, including for the UN.

4.2  Institute of Mathematical Innovation

A new Global Chair for the Institute of Mathematical Innovation has been appointed, Prof Jim Zidek. The Institute’s launch event will be on 28 October 2015 in the Assembly Rooms.

5.  Regulatory Environment

5.1  Quality Assessment Framework and Teaching Excellence Framework

On 29 June, HEFCE published a consultation to mark the second phase of a review of quality approaches which began in January of this year.  Feedback was sought on proposals to:

  • place the focus on information and data about student academic outcomes rather than quality systems and processes
  • strengthen the existing external examining system to protect the integrity of academic standards
  • enhance the role of universities’ and colleges’ own assurance systems.

The University submitted a response by the deadline of 18 September 2015. Further details

Proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework are currently being developed by BIS on behalf of the Minister of HE, Jo Johnson. Input and discussion is taking place with representatives of the sector to inform a consultation as part of the wider Green Paper that the government intends to publish by mid-October. The Teaching Excellence Framework is intended to reward institutions where teaching is deemed to be of an exceptionally high standard, through an increase of student fee levels. The University will respond to the Green Paper and TEF in due course.

5.2  Teaching Qualifications

On 9 September 2015, the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, gave a speech at the UUK Conference outlining “government plans to give students better value for money from their degrees by incentivising excellent teaching, greater transparency and ensuring student protection”:  This emphasis on teaching quality is the latest in a series of statements and initiatives signalling the intent of Government to provide additional reassurance for students that they are getting value for their tuition fees.  One of these initiatives has been a national move to capture information about the academic teaching qualifications held by teaching staff in universities.  HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) introduced a new field to capture information on academic teaching qualifications in 2012/13.  The University is currently taking steps to capture better data on the teaching qualifications for its 2014/15 HESA staff return.

5.3   UUK guidance on Competition and Markets Authority

Under UK competition law students are treated as consumers.  The Competition and Markets Authority issued in March 2015 advice for higher education providers which the University has been considering to ensure it is fully compliant.  ‘Which’ is also taking an interest in the higher education sector.  Universities have been notified that the CMA, based on intelligence from various sources, will be carrying out a review of universities’ compliance this month.  The focus of the CMA’s advice is on ensuring that clear information is provided to students when they decide to apply for a course and that changes to that information should only occur in circumstances which are limited and identified in advance with a reasonable degree of specificity.  The University has been taking action on these matters, drawing on UUK guidance which was recently published.  The University Secretary is leading on this work, with the support of the Legal Office, working closely with Faculty offices and other relevant staff.

5.4 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015: Prevent Duty

The Prevent Duty came into effect on 18 September, the day after its approval by the House of Lords.  The University Secretary has been chairing a task and finish group comprising academic and professional service colleagues to assess the implications of the Duty for the University. HEFCE has, as expected, now been designated as the monitoring authority.  The University is required to carry out a risk assessment and to consider various aspects of its new responsibility to avoid people from being drawn into terrorism.  Once this work is further advanced a report will be made to Senate and modest changes to the University’s Freedom of Expression Policy will come to Senate for consideration.

6. Internationalisation

6.1 International profile

The University has significantly improved its position in the QS World University Rankings and the THE World Rankings as mentioned above.

I travelled to South Africa at the end of September with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) in order to sign a new agreement with the South African Department for Higher Education and Training and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for the delivery of the School of Management Doctorate in Business Administration (Higher Education Management) (DBA (HEM)). This agreement will allow two cohorts of 27 South African senior academic and professional staff to enrol in the DBA (HEM). During my time in South Africa, I also visited the University’s Strategic Partner in South Africa, Stellenbosch University, as well as the University of Pretoria.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation) led a national delegation to Peru and Ecuador, in September, comprising 14 UK university senior representatives, on behalf of Universities UK.

6.2  International partnerships

A delegation from Koç University in Istanbul, led by Vice President Professor Dr İrşadi Aksun, visited the University in July to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with us. The new partnership with Koç University, a leading research institution in Turkey is the latest addition to the University’s very successful portfolio of International Strategic Partnerships.

The University also hosted a delegation from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) led by Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Dato’ Dr Muhamad Jantan. USM is one of Malaysia’s oldest research intensive public Universities.  The purpose of the visit was to explore the possibility of developing a strategic partnership and identify areas of mutual interest.

The University funded three projects this year under the Bath-FAPESP (Brazil). An additional nine projects were also awarded under the Bath Accelerating International Research Collaboration schemes for new initiatives involving University Strategic Partners. More details.

6.3  International Mobility

The University has been successful in three ERASMUS + applications for international credit mobility funding, a new strand of funding that has become available this year. The approved funding will allow students to benefit from ERASMUS+ travel grants when on exchange between Bath and a number of selected partners (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, City University Hong Kong and National University of Singapore). Two further applications were submitted in September under the same funding scheme to support student mobility with the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) and the Tecnologico de Monterrey (Mexico).

7.  Visits to Departments

Since my last report I have visited the busy venues of Campus Retail and Commercial Operations and also Research & Innovation Services.  In July I visited the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and the School of Management, which involved a tour of its sites at both ends of campus, including the new Executive Development Suite in The Edge. My last departmental visit of the academic year was to the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.

8. Senate Elections

Dr Maria Garcia has been elected to Senate from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2016 in the recent election to replace Dr Joanna Bryson who is on sabbatical this year.

9. Senior Academic Appointments

The following Heads of Department have been approved by Council:

Professor Chris Frost - Department of Chemistry from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2018.

Dr Mary Hayden - re-appointed for Education to 31st July 2016.

Professor Chris Jennison - Mathematical Sciences from 1st August 2015 to 31st January 2016.

Professor Peter Mörters - Mathematical Sciences from 1st February 2016 to 31st January 2019.

Professor Gary Lock - Mechanical Engineering 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2018.

10. Other University News

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

10.1 Recent significant grant awards include:

Description Funder Principal Investigator £Amount
GROWMOF Modelling of MOF Self-Assembly, Crustal Growth and Thin Film Formation European Research Council Professor Tina Duren 1,241,939
Improving Turbine Efficiency by Combining the Effects of Rim Seals and End-Wall Contours in the Presence of Purge Flow EPSRC Dr Carl Sangan 837,647
 tilisation of Albiglutide in Women of Child Bearing Age GlaxoSmithKline Services Unlimited Dr Anita McGrogan 250,372
XMOS - eXtended Model of Organics Semiconductors EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Alison Walker 508,393
Targeting Bed Reset-Induced Adipose Tissue Dysfunction with Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Nutrients BBSRC Professor Dylan Thompson 420,182
P2P SmarTest EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Furong Li 260,838
EXTREME EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Michele Meo 702,856
COLBE - The Creation of Localized Current and Future Weather for the Built Environment EPSRC Professor David Coley 614,628
Structure-function Studies on Human Angiotensin-l Converting Enzyme (Human ACE) MRC Professor Ravi Acharya 595,238
Delineating the Roles of NSun Proteins at the Onset of Mouse Embryogenesis MRC Dr Tony Perry  656,766
Development of an Infection Detecting Wound Dressing MRC  Dr Toby Jenkins 408,061
Fellow for Industrial Research Enhancement (FIRE) EU - Horizon 2020 Dr Janet L Scott 801,600
Fellow for Industrial Research Enhancement (FIRE) EU - Horizon 2020 Professor Philip Willis 801,600
Mechanically Decoupled Electric Turbocharger for Optimal IC Engines Efficiency Technology Strategy Board Dr Sam Akehurst 292,401
Hollow Anti-resonant Fibres for Visible and Ultraviolet Beam Delivery EPSRC Professor Jonathan Knight 345,155
Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship - Rational Design of Glassy Materials with Technological Applications The Royal Society Dr Anita Zeidler 469,203
REACT Study NIHR Dr Afroditi Stathi 958,422

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
Vice-Chancellor

 

Ground-breaking deal with South African Government

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📥  Celebrating successes

The University is to provide advanced leadership training to senior South African Higher Education professionals in a ground-breaking new partnership with the South African Government.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell said: “The University of Bath is proud and delighted to celebrate this unique partnership with all the universities of South Africa.

“We take our responsibilities for this hugely valuable partnership very seriously. It speaks strongly to our international values and philosophy: partnership for the long-term for social and intellectual benefit.”

Read more about the partnership on University News.

 

New Pro-Vice-Chancellor chairs LITEbox Technology Debate

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📥  On campus

The first LITEbox event of this semester starts with Professor Peter Lambert, the University’s new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching), chairing a panel debate and round-table discussion about learning technologies on Thursday 15 October 2015 from 12.30pm to 1.30pm in 8 West 2.5. All staff are invited to attend.

A keen supporter of the Alumni-funded LITEbox initiative, Professor Peter Lambert said: “I am delighted to be chairing this event on behalf of the LITEbox team. I believe that developing the University’s use and take-up of new and existing technologies to support the key areas of our teaching and learning is an important aspect of my new role.

"This event is an excellent opportunity to both stimulate discussion, share ideas and gain input from staff to help inform our new Education Strategy for 2016 and beyond. I would encourage all staff with an interest in developing their teaching to attend.”

For more information on the session please visit the LITEbox blog.

 

Vice-Chancellor officially welcomes Wallabies

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📥  On campus

The Vice-Chancellor has officially welcomed two-time Rugby World Cup winners Australia to the University of Bath. She said:

"We are delighted Australia chose our fantastic sports facilities for their Team Base. It was good to hear them speaking so highly of the University, our facilities and our staff."

Read more in University News here.

 

Celebrating Research Success as Portfolio Reaches £125 Million

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📥  Celebrating successes

Research and Innovation Services (RIS) has hosted an event to celebrate the University’s research funding success. The new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for Research, Professor Jonathan Knight, gave a talk on Research funding and the University, thanking colleagues for their contribution to the success rate.

Professor Knight says: “This was an opportunity to celebrate an excellent year for research awards due to the joint work of RIS and our academic staff. These awards will enable us to further develop our research in a broad range of areas to address problems of national importance.”

To read more about the event visit the Research and Innovation Services (RIS) websites.