Letter from Vice-Chancellor

Dear Professors

I am responding immediately to the letter that you sent to the Chancellor, Chair of Council and myself.  I believe that in writing to us you have only the best interests of the University of Bath in mind.

I know that the Chair of Council will respond on matters of the governance of the university, I have no authority to do that.  However, I want to say very clearly, as I said in the last Senate meeting, that I will be doing everything that I can to encourage Council to respond positively to the recommendations for change made by HEFCE in its report.  I believe that the review of Council effectiveness that has been initiated now should and will engage a broad range of interest groups within the university community.  It will be a great opportunity for all quarters of the university and others who care about our future success to voice ideas and offer recommendations for change.

In your letter, you suggest there should be a discussion of the nature of the organisation of the university more broadly and state that if this is to be done effectively it should not be rushed.  I believe that it is recognised by Council that the process for the appointment of the next Vice Chancellor will also need to actively and extensively engage the university community and other stakeholders.  The form and scope this engagement takes is something which will need to be worked out and I think the university should take the best advice available on this.

The Higher Education sector as a whole is undergoing massive change, reflecting a developing political and public view on funding and regulation.  Our university is in a process of transition.  In that transition, my role should be and will be very limited.  My job until August 2018 is to ensure that the university can deal with its ordinary business while changes are decided.  We have a major series of projects that need to be supported and progressed during that time if our community is to realise the long term benefits of the investments we are making in our research base, both people and facilities. Examples include engaging with the local community and B&NES Council in relation to the University Masterplan, finalising the purchase of the Bristol and Bath Science Park and realising the opportunity this provides to expand, besides concluding negotiations with the major donors whose generosity will help us achieve the £66 million target we have been working towards in our Look Further fund raising campaign. There are a number of other pressing issues ahead both within the sector and beyond which will require the University to be well placed to respond.  I would like now to get on with this time critical work in the best interests of the university.

One final point, I have been awarded a six month sabbatical on full pay after 17 years of service to the university.  As professors of this university, you will know that the award of a six month sabbatical on full pay is not unusual – especially at the end of a long period in a senior office.  As Vice Chancellor, I am responsible for authorising all sabbaticals.  It was clearly not appropriate for that to apply in my own case.  On advice, that decision was taken by Council on the recommendation of its Remuneration Committee.  During the sabbatical, I will be engaged in research and publishing primarily in the fields of psychology.  I expect some of this work will be in collaboration with other academics at the university and open to being REF-able.  The work and any research income generated from it will be attributable to the university.

I would like to thank you for writing to me. I intend to make both your letter and my reply public within our community.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell
President and Vice-Chancellor

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