Christine Gibbons, BPharm (hons) 1978
Lay Member of University Council
With a new academic year underway, it’s been fantastic to be back on campus. I sat a while in The Patch eating a fantastic vegetarian bake and listening to students talking about their part-time jobs, admin for societies and coursework. It certainly feels different from the 1970s when I was on campus, especially with all of the new buildings that have sprung up.
We now offer accommodation in Carpenter House and student support at the Virgil Building, both in central Bath, as well as the currently under-development Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems in Bristol. There is still a lot of building going on around campus, too, with new postgraduate accommodation now open and the School of Management under construction. However, Wessex and Norwood House are still there and looking the same – from the outside, anyway!
The Council had a two-day event to start the year. We welcomed speaker Nick Hillman, Director of Higher Education Policy Institute, talking about the work of his independent thinktank on higher education, and met our two new Council members Maria Bond and Dot Griffiths. We now have three alumni on Council.
The Vice-Chancellor recently launched the Our University, Our Future initiative to gather feedback from staff, students, alumni and other stakeholders on the strategic focus and next steps for the University. We will be contacting our graduates for their views in early 2020, so keep an eye out.
Our discussions on research focused on the new Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission and how its new format may affect us. We have some significant strength areas, but our research grant income is £51,000 per full-time equivalent teaching and research staff member, compared to a median among similar institutions of £79,000. We talked about the importance of developing research at a local and regional level with our partners in the area.
We also discussed what our Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) scores might look like in 2020, following the Gold ranking we received in 2017. 70% of our annual income (£210 million) comes from students, and we have some brilliant outcomes:
- in the National Student Survey 2019 we achieved over 87.26% for overall student satisfaction – 17th in the UK
- at 96.6%, we have the third-highest student retention rate in the UK
- our major curriculum transformation project will be completed by 2022 across all subject areas
- the University has launched three online Master of Science courses, all of which are doing well
The University has now appointed Dr Cassie Wilson to the new post of Vice President for Student Experience. Her work will cover student health and wellbeing, inclusion, and student engagement, all of which are important issues for us to focus on.
The Council concluded and approved the final items of the Board effectiveness review, initiated by the Halpin Review. We have made a lot of changes, and a piece of work surrounding stakeholder engagement is the only ongoing project.
And finally, a very merry Christmas to you all!
If you’d like to get in touch, do feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org