Preview of VC's report to Senate on 7 Jun

1.1 Higher Education and Research Act 2017

The Bill became the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 on 27 April 2017.  For details see: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/highereducationandresearch.html

1.2       Office for Students (OfS)

The new OfS will be set up next year as the new regulator and funding council for universities in England. It will have the statutory responsibility for quality and standards, approving new entrants to the sector and also awarding university title and degree awarding powers. Sir Michael Barber has been appointed as the first chair of the OfS.

1.3       Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The OfS will make arrangements for assessing the quality of teaching through the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). TEF is already underway. TEF will be reviewed independently by the end of 2019. Until 2020, the government is expected to allow tuition fees to increase by the rate of inflation for universities participating in TEF and meeting minimum eligibility requirements. After 2020, funding may be linked to results in the TEF.

1.4       Office for Fair Access (OFFA)

The OfS will incorporate the functions of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). Universities will be required to publish information on the fairness of their admissions, and also information that could be considered “helpful to international students”. The OfS will also have powers in relation to monitoring the financial sustainability of higher education providers and improving their efficiency.

1.5       Accelerated degrees

Universities will be able to charge higher annual fees for courses taught over a shorter period.

1.6       Loans

The Student Finance Company will now be enabled to make alternative methods of financing available for those unable to take out students loans, particularly for those who require ‘Sharia-compliant’ finance.

1.7       UKRI

The seven research councils, Innovate UK, and the research functions of HEFCE will be brought under UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). A new body, Research England, will be responsible for quality-related (QR) research funding.

2. League Tables

2.1       Complete University Guide

The University has been ranked 11th out of 129 UK universities by the Complete University Guide 2018, published on 26 April. It remains the top ranked university in the South West. Bath also performed well again in the subject tables, with 19 of its disciplines ranked in the top 10 in the UK. Of these, six are in the top three: Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering, Architecture, Business & Management, Marketing, Psychology and Sports Science. The full rankings can be viewed at: https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings

2.2     Guardian University Guide

The University has been ranked fifth in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2018, published on 16 May, a rise of five places from tenth last year, and is the highest ranked university in the south west. The University ranks in the top 10 for 13 subjects, including number 1 in the UK for psychology. Other subjects ranking in the top 10 include architecture (2), business, management and marketing (2), chemical engineering (5), civil engineering (4), economics (9), electronic and electrical engineering (7), mechanical engineering (7), physics (10), social policy & administration (4), social work (2), sociology (2), sports science (6).

3. Athena SWAN submission

The University-wide Athena SWAN submission was made by the deadline of the end of April. See: http://www.bath.ac.uk/equalities/athenaswan/.bho/draftsubmissionAS.pdf

4. International Engagements

Since the last meeting:

4.1       I signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Taisho University, Japan in order to facilitate research collaboration and staff and student exchange in Psychology.

4.2       Pro-Chancellor Baroness Royall gave a keynote speech and Professor Veronica Hope Hailey delivered a signature plenary at ‘The Contribution of Business Schools to Inclusive Development in Africa and Europe’, a two day conference held at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies.

4.3     Professor David Galbreath led a delegation of staff from the Departments of Education, Psychology, Politics, Languages and International Studies and Health to the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Columbia (UNAL), Columbia. The visit focused on strengthening ties and exploring opportunities for collaboration.

4.4       Professor Peter Lambert welcomed Mr Dan Mihalache, Ambassador of Romania in the UK, to the University. The ambassador met a group of Romanian undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at the University. Professor Lambert also welcomed Her Excellency Ambassador Mrs Sylvie Bermanm, French Ambassador to the UK. The delegation met with students and staff from the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies to discuss the importance of strengthening links between the French Embassy and the Department.

4.5       Professor Bernie Morley welcomed Professor Stephanie Burton, Vice President Research and Postgraduate Education at the University of Pretoria to the University. He chaired a roundtable involving colleagues from across the University to discuss possible future collaborations.

4.6       Colleagues in the Library welcomed two of their counterparts from Stellenbosch University for a two week visit in April/May. The visit was funded by the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility scheme and enabled the exchange of knowledge regarding each institution's approach to research support, particularly data management and student information support.

4.7       There have also been numerous international visits and exchanges involving the Dean of Engineering and Design, Professor Gary Hawley, and other academic staff including conversion events in Kuala Lumper, Singapore, Dubai and Cyprus during March which attracted over 160 students holding offers to study at the University.   Over March and April for a five week period we had a series of events across China involving academic staff from across the University, the Academic Skills Centre and Student Immigration Service, and visits to most of our other key markets.  These events were held in areas where the University has a good recruitment record and were designed to interact with students and their parents before making their final choice of where to study. They also saw alumni play a prominent role, were accompanied by a PGT alumni ambassador scheme and should help achieve the intended significant increase in international PGT recruitment this year.  They form part of a collaborative approach to international student recruitment, which is currently being led by the University Secretary following the departure of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation).

5. Other University news

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

5.1      Two members of Senate have been elected to Council to serve for a term of three years from 1 August 2017: Professor Danae Stanton Fraser and Kate Robinson. Professor David Bird has also been elected for two years from 1 August 2017 to fill a casual vacancy.

5.2      I have been appointed as a member of the group conducting the Review of Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences, set up by EPSRC and Innovate UK.

5.3      Professor Jonathan Knight, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), has been awarded the 2017 Rank Prize in Optoelectronics jointly with two colleagues.

5.4      Recruitment to the role of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International & Doctoral) is ongoing. Search agents have been appointed to assist with the process.

5.5      Council on 18 May approved the appointment of the following Heads of Department until 31 July 2020:

Economics: Dr Peter Postl

Health: Professor Keith Stokes

Politics, Languages and International Studies: Dr Nick Startin.

5.6      Recent significant grant awards include:

Description

Funder Principal Investigator(s) Dept £

Amount

Advanced Metrology Hub - Bath Spoke EPSRC Professor Patrick Keogh Mechanical Engineering 1,155,593
Delivery of Multi-Spoke Distributed Vehicle Environment for Digital Design and Validation of Complex Powertrain Systems Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Professor Chris Brace Mechanical Engineering 268,000
Donation - The HPC Supply Chain Innovation Laboratory EDF Energy Professor Brian Squire Management 1,539,745
Towards Continuous Manufacture of Smart Responsive Coatings EPSRC Professor Chick Wilson Chemistry 305,189

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell

Vice-Chancellor

June 2017

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