As we come to the end of 2023, my final full calendar year as Vice-Chancellor, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to our community.
Although much focus this year has been on our University of the Year Awards and outstanding performance in national and international rankings, 2023 has also been a year of other major milestones for our University community and we have achieved a great deal, working together.
Together, we have been implementing our ‘Curriculum Transformation’ programme, the most significant restructuring of our educational framework in 25 years, which will benefit students and staff alike. The quality of our education has also been recognised this year through our triple Gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework, which reflects our commitment to excellence in our teaching here at Bath.
Together, we have increased our total research awards to £63M this past academic year, up 32% from the previous year. We also secured approximately £20M of awards by the end of Quarter 1 of the 2023/2024 academic year, 51% higher than last year. These are really significant achievements and will enable us to have even greater positive impact through our research. We have also formally launched IAAPS, as well as developing new Institutes and Beacons, with exciting plans for the year ahead.
Together, we have navigated new ways of working, post-pandemic, to enable a dynamic and thriving campus. I’ve been delighted that, in addition to the hive of activity in education and research, around 10,000 students are taking part in sporting activities and around 2,000 in arts activities, making the most of the exceptional facilities we have at the University. We have also made strides in supporting the wellbeing and diversity of our community, through the launch of our ‘Be Well’ initiative, and with every academic department at Bath now holding an Athena Swan award.
Together, we have deepened our partnerships, including locally through the Future Ambitions Board and work towards a Civic Agreement, and more broadly through alliances such as the GW4 and SetSquared. We have also been reinvigorating our alumni, donor and supporter network, who have helped us this year financially and in other ways to support students, widen participation and further research, for which we are deeply grateful.
Underpinning our strategic pillars, we have been undertaking crucial work, often behind the scenes, to invest prudently in our digital capability, sustainability and infrastructure to support the future success of the University. My thanks to all those who have helped us to progress this important activity.
May I therefore again express my sincere thanks to our leadership and governance colleagues, our staff, students, Students’ Union, alumni, and our many partners and supporters whose contributions are at the heart of our continued success.
I am also acutely aware that this has also been an exceptionally hard year for many, for some with continuing cost of living pressures and also because of the very serious conflicts and tensions internationally, and disasters in so many parts of the world, which have brought personal loss and sadness to members of our community. It is often the measure of a community how its members respond in the most difficult circumstances, and so some of my most profoundly moving moments over the last year have been witnessing the compassion, humanity and integrity of members of our community and our student societies, and the support shown to one another in the face of real hardship.
I was most grateful to speak at the internationally-attended Bath Model United Nations Conference at the start of this month, the University Society having won the best delegation award from the London International Model United Nations Conference in March. The theme of the Conference was "Sliding Door Moments", apparently inconsequential moments that can have great impact on future events. Of course, for those from the Christian faith community, the Christmas story is in one sense a ‘sliding door moment’ where a child, born in very humble circumstances who never aspired to or held public office, came to have extraordinary long-term global influence and impact. My hope is that this Christmas season will be a special time for all of us, bringing rest, reflection, happiness and hope, and that 2024 brings new sliding door moments that will advance peace and prosperity globally in a truly sustainable manner.
May I wish you all a happy Christmas holiday period and extend my warmest best wishes for 2024,
Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor & President