I would like to begin by stating unequivocally the pride I, and my colleagues on Council, have in the way the whole University responded to the pandemic over the past twelve months. A year ago, I reflected on the rapid adjustments which we had made in response to the first few months of the pandemic but none of us appreciated just what a demanding year was about to follow and the relentless pressures which we would face. So to our academic staff who worked tirelessly to pivot their work to support student learning while still trying to maintain their research interests; to our professional services staff who pulled out all the stops to enable us to function smoothly; to our students who dealt with the inevitable constraints on their university experience with good grace and humour; and in particular to our leadership team, led by our Vice-Chancellor, who inevitably carried the greatest burden of responsibility for ensuring the health and well-being of all in our community, a massive thank you.

Despite the challenges, through good stewardship, we have been able to deliver a solid set of outcomes – reflected in both our internal metrics and external validation as demonstrated through the various league tables and other successes which are outlined later within this report. A modest financial surplus has been achieved which enables us to continue to plot our own destiny with a degree of confidence. This is particularly important as we embark on delivering our ambitious University Strategy 2021 to 2026 which we approved earlier this year.

However I am mindful as we face into 2021 to 22, that COVID-19 has not disappeared, and, despite the welcome summer break, our resilience remains lower than ideal and so a continued focus on a culture of care across our community remains central to our approach.

We remain exposed to a number of major external risk factors: in particular the outcome of the Government Spending Review, tuition fee levels, unresolved pensions issues and the unknown trajectory of the rate of return of overseas students. In addition, we have identified a number of Bath specific challenges such as widening participation which we are committed to addressing within our new strategy.

I am confident however that we are taking the right steps to build our capacity and capability to rise to these challenges and have the drive and commitment to ensure our continued success.

Pamela Chesters CBE
Chair of Council