It is the people that make this place special, both as a place for our students to study and for staff to work.
And, as we come to the end of 2018, I want to say ‘thank you’ to every member of our community for your contribution to our shared success.
I'm proud of the things we've done together this year to make this an even better place to work and to study.
From the #NeverOkay campaigns, the Good Neighbour and Pack for Good projects in Oldfield Park to the new health and wellbeing action plan we are developing.
So often these initiatives involve working alongside the Students' Union and we’re lucky to have such an excellent group of officers both to work with us and to challenge us.
We’ve achieved some wonderful things together this year in line with our strategy, not least continuing to deliver excellent quality teaching and research.
We have launched the Institute of Coding, made real progress on IAAPS, bought the Bristol and Bath Science Park, and opened the fantastic new home for the Milner Centre for Evolution. We have also launched new undergraduate and postgraduate courses to expand our offer for new students.
There are so many collective and individual achievements, I won’t even try to list them all here. But we end the year in a good place.
Looking ahead to 2019, there are some real challenges for the sector as a whole.
There is still uncertainty around Brexit and I want to say to everyone concerned, and specifically to our international colleagues, that you are valued, you are appreciated and you will continue to be supported in the months to come.
Next year will also see the Government’s Augar Review reporting its findings on Post-18 Education and Funding. Rumours are circulating already about student fees and the impact any changes could have on students and on universities.
We know there is increasing competition in the HE sector and expectations about student experience remain, rightly, high.
Demographic changes mean the English 18-year old population has been steadily declining for a number of years but it is expected to begin increasing again in the next couple of years.
So what does this all mean for us?
I think it means we will need to be better connected – both between Departments and externally.
We need to be better at horizon scanning and more agile about making decisions. Some of the changes I have already made to reduce management committee structures and speed up approval processes are designed to achieve this agility.
I think, amongst all the change, we need to remain focussed on our core mission as a University, to deliver excellent research and education which benefits society and the world in which we live.
As a community, we will need to work together to deal with the changes ahead. I’ve been really impressed at the level of the discussions we’ve had at the Café Conversations. Please keep asking us and yourselves questions, look at the sector and outside it for best practice and ideas, and talk to your colleagues and managers about how we should change for the better.
In the meantime, though, whatever you are doing over Christmas, I hope you manage to have a break with family, friends or however you choose to spend it.
And may I be amongst the first to wish you every happiness for Christmas and the New Year.