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One week into the survey about our search for a new Vice-Chancellor and we have 350 responses. 49% from students, 25% from Professional Service staff, 18% from academic staff and a range of others including alumni, partners and employers. What a great start and thanks to all who have completed the questionnaire, and particularly to those who have offered some very thoughtful comments. Not many jokes yet, but I’m still hopeful. Of course, this wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t see if the number 350 has any particular significance. So, it’s a worldwide movement for action against climate change (after 350 ppm, the ‘safe’ concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere). And in 350 AD the Romans started another civil war, though I’m not sure that this distinguishes it from all of the other years of the Roman empire!

Anyway, Googling over and back to the survey. What is most striking in the first week is the broad variety of views. Some highlight the importance of enterprise and innovation; others see it as selling out to the market. Student satisfaction is prioritised by many; others want a less ‘consumerised’ approach. Research (excellence, impact) is coming through as a consistently strong theme along with education, staff engagement and transparency of decision making. We also started the focus groups last week, and these give an opportunity to delve beneath the surface of such comments. What exactly does ‘transparency’ mean in a University? What examples have we experienced of good and bad decision making processes? I was going to title this blog ‘Frank’. Not because he made a particularly good contribution at a focus group, but because those who have contributed so far have been just that – honest and unafraid to express their views. It makes for really healthy, enjoyable and insightful discussions.

So if you haven’t offered your thoughts yet, with just one click, you can be on your way to influencing who becomes our next Vice-Chancellor. Or come along to a focus group and join in the discussion.


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