Our Mission is to deliver world class research and teaching, educating our students to become future leaders and innovators, and benefiting the wider population through our research, enterprise and influence.
This Mission derives from our constitutional charitable Objects to “advance learning and knowledge by teaching and research, particularly in science and technology, and in close association with industry and commerce”. These Objects are set out in our Royal Charter of 1966 and constitute the University’s charitable purposes for the public benefit.
Members of the University Council, as trustees, have had due regard to the guidance on public benefit published by the Charity Commission in exercising their trustees’ powers or duties. The induction programme for new members of Council includes coverage of the Commission’s guidance. The full Council membership receives periodic briefings on regulatory matters, including the Charity Commission’s guidance and the requirements of the Office for Students.
Our commitment to delivering public benefit is at the core of our Mission. In furtherance of our Mission, our key objective during 2022-23 was to deliver excellence in our two primary charitable purposes, research and education.
Excellence in research, for us, means:
- our research is internationally renowned – tackling global challenges and attracting world-class researchers to work with us
- our research collaborations attract prestige academic and commercial partners – increasing our research power and extending our influence
- our enterprise and innovation delivers scientific and economic impact – benefiting communities locally, regionally, nationally and internationally
- our research environment is vibrant and supportive – nurturing talent from doctoral students and early career researchers through to established academics
- our culture is one of open enquiry and debate – challenging received wisdom and fostering the highest standards of research integrity
Excellence in education, for us, means:
- our teaching is inspiring and highly valued, delivered through a focussed range of curricula that are academically rigorous, research-driven and practice-based
- our learning is enhanced through high-quality spaces, effective technologies, and support for students’ active participation
- our community is inclusive, supportive and engaged, enriched by the diverse and international backgrounds of our students and staff
- our students are empowered to make positive contributions to society – locally, nationally or internationally – through attributes including awareness, understanding, reflection and intellectual curiosity
- our graduates have high levels of personal, professional, and academic skills enabling them to fulfil their potential and thrive in their chosen employment
In our University Strategy 2021-26, we reaffirmed in our Vision Statement that our charitable objectives are undertaken for the public benefit:
Our Vision is to be an outstanding and inclusive University community, characterised by excellence in education, research and innovation, working in partnership with others for the advancement of knowledge, in support of the global common good.
In accordance with our Mission and charitable purposes, we aim to benefit society through our research. Our research ethos has a strong focus upon impact, tackling challenges of global significance from sustainability to health and wellbeing. One of the four strategic pillars of our University Strategy is ‘driving high-impact research’. Our faculty comprises some of the finest researchers from around the world. As established in our Royal Charter, we value research partnerships and work with business, industry, the professions, the public sector and the voluntary sector. Consequently, our research benefits a wide range of stakeholders with international as well as national beneficiaries, ranging from individuals with improved health to international corporates with more energy efficient products. ‘Enhancing strategic partnerships’ is also one of the four strategic pillars of our University Strategy.
Through advancing knowledge, the University’s research has a wide range of public benefits:
- stimulating economic development
- informing public policy and professional practice
- innovating, informing and inspiring
- advancing individual and societal wellbeing
- building international connections
The international excellence of the University’s research was evidenced by the outcomes of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) evaluation of research quality. In terms of the overall quality of our submission, 92% was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. In addition, 90% of the University’s research outputs (e.g. journal articles, books and patents) was rated ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for its reach and significance. In terms of having an environment that supports research, 98% of our submitted research activity was graded as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
Our research continues to have tangible economic and social benefits, locally, regionally and nationally. One of the strategic pillars of our new University Strategy is driving high-impact research. During 2022-23, we secured £1.25m from the ESRC for a new Impact Acceleration Account to develop impact from our ESRC-funded research.
In continuing to invest in the strategic expansion of our research base we will increase its impact and, hence, its public benefit. During 2022-23, we invested £3.0 million from a combination of internal and external funding sources in 13 new research instruments. These instruments will benefit researchers across our discipline bases, and at different stages of their careers. The new equipment will be accessible to internal and external stakeholders, helping to grow our partnerships, research outputs and impact.
In July 2023, UKRI announced that UK-HyRES, the UK Hub for Research Challenges in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels, led by the University of Bath, would receive £11m as part of a £53million investment in research to decarbonise the UK’s energy sector. Partner universities include Portsmouth, Sheffield, St Andrews, Surrey, University College London and Warwick.
In 2022-23, the value of our research portfolio was around £169 million. We secured £63m in awards during the year which was £15.5m, or 32% higher than in 2021-22. Around 50% of our research income is provided by UK research councils and these funders include impact in their criteria for evaluating grant applications. Consequently, the University has an objective view of the potential public benefit of much of its research. Data released by UKRI in July 2022 showed an increase in our overall success rate by both value (up to 43% from 18%) and number (up to 31% from 23%).
We will continue to strengthen our international networks and partnerships to enhance our international profile and our ability to sustain a world-class research capability. Find further examples of how our research is delivering public benefit. During 2022-23, our first donation of laboratory and audio-visual equipment was delivered to our twinning partner, Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University, in Ukraine.
We believe that there is a clear secondary order public benefit in having an informed population, both nationally and internationally, particularly where complex global issues are concerned. We are proactive in engaging the media with our research work and providing expert comment on topical issues, including the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine and economic developments.
We work actively to ensure that our research is disseminated and understood beyond the world of academia. Our Institute for Policy Research, celebrating its 10th anniversary, has published a series of Policy Briefs which are circulated to key decision-makers. Our Public Engagement unit also plays a key role in disseminating our research. We utilise a wide variety of media to disseminate knowledge beyond the confines of campus, including MOOCS, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
In advancing and disseminating knowledge, the University’s teaching has a wide range of public benefits:
- developing people
- providing skills for the workforce
- informing professional practice
- innovating, informing and inspiring
- building international connections
We are a first-choice university destination for students in an increasingly competitive, international recruitment market. Students are attracted by our excellent academic reputation, our outstanding graduate employment record, our world-class sports facilities, and the wide array of other social, recreational and personal development opportunities we offer. Our ability to offer placement options across our discipline base, and with leading organisations, is one of the features that distinguishes us from other top UK research-intensive universities. Our graduates have excellent employment prospects, not only because of their discipline-specific knowledge and skills but also because of the emphasis we place on developing well-rounded, enterprising individuals with high aspirations. As a result, our graduates are well-equipped to contribute to economic growth and policy development, as well as making a positive social contribution.
During 2022-23, we participated in the Teaching Excellence Framework, a national peer assessment of teaching managed by the regulator. Our teaching excellence was evidenced by our overall Gold rating. We were also named ‘University of the Year’ in The Times and Sunday Times ‘Good University Guide’ 2023 and were ranked in the top ten in all national university league tables, including a 5th place ranking in The Complete University Guide. In response to the high demand for our programmes, our student population has been growing. Our core headcount student population grew between 2021-22 and 2022-23 by 1.9%. In 2022-23, our core student population comprised 14,481 undergraduates, 4,099 taught postgraduates and 1,731 research postgraduates.
Our students are key beneficiaries of our teaching activities and we measure our success in terms of their retention rates, their employability and their satisfaction. Our completion and employment rates are some of the best in the sector and this contributed to the University achieving Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework 2023 for Student Outcomes. In terms of student satisfaction, we performed strongly at institutional level in the National Student Survey, scoring above the UK Higher Education sector benchmarks in 24 of 27 questions in NSS 2023, and in six out of seven survey themes. We also achieved Gold for Student Experience in the Teaching Excellence Framework 2023. Council receives annual reports on continuation and employability performance. HESA Graduate Outcomes data for the 2019-20 graduating cohort showed that 93% of Bath’s (UK-domiciled, full-time, first-degree) graduates who are working in the UK are in high-skilled employment. We were ranked in the Top 100 of the international QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022 and in the top 150 in the QS World University Rankings 2024. National data shows that the percentage of our UK-domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants who left within 50 days of commencement (2014-15) 2019-20 years of entry) was 2% compared to a benchmark of 2.7% (Source: HESA Performance Indicators - Table T3).
Beneficiaries of our teaching activities range from school age (aspiration raising/mentoring) through to mature learners (continuing professional development and MOOCS), and include undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research postgraduates. We recruit internationally and are committed to promoting a diverse student population. The 2022-23 session saw the fifth year of delivery of our new online programmes in partnership with Wiley. This partnership enables us to deliver teaching in a mode that is likely to be more convenient for mature students and those with caring responsibilities.
During 2022-23, we were one of 40 volunteer providers submitting new Access and Participation Plans for 2024-25 to the Office for Students. After extensive consultations across the university and beyond we have identified nine key risks to equality of opportunity with a particular focus on students: from low socio-economic backgrounds, identify as a minority ethnic group and/or have a declared disability. Our new Access and Participation Plan sets out how we plan to address these barriers to equality of opportunity in access to the university, continuation/competition, degree awarding and progression into graduate-level careers/study. We invested £7.8m in access and participation in 2022-23.
We recognise that undergraduate tuition fees may be a barrier to accessing our teaching. We publicise the financial support that we can provide to prospective students through our website and Open Days. In 2022-23 we provided £3.78m of financial support to 1,179 undergraduate students in the form of bursaries for individuals paying fees under the 2012 fee regime with a household residual income (HRI) of £25,000 or below. This included £747k of support to 155 students in receipt of the University’s Gold Scholarship Programme, which is jointly funded by the University and sponsors. Our Alumni Funds provided £117k of financial support to 68 undergraduates with an HRI of £42,875 and below. The Accommodation Bursary scheme which was introduced in 2020-21 was expanded to include those with HRI’s of between £25,001 and £60,000 and who met the new scheme criteria. This scheme provided £462k of bursaries in the form of credits to accommodation accounts to 772 students. In total, £4.4m of financial support was awarded to 1,678 undergraduate students.
Employers are also beneficiaries of our teaching activities through the skillset of our graduates. In the 2023 QS world ranking, the University of Bath was ranked 102nd in the world in the employer reputation performance measure. We also measure our success in delivering the skills that employers want in terms of our ability to maintain our network of placement sponsors. In 2018-19 we launched our first degree apprenticeship, the Level 7 Digital and Technology Solutions Specialist Integrated Degree. In 2020-21 we launched our second-degree apprenticeship, the Level 7 Architecture Integrated Degree, and in 2022-23 we undertook further development work on a new Level 7 degree apprenticeship in Clinical Psychology which was launched for a 2023 intake.
The wider community also benefits from our ability to attract high-quality, engaged students. Working in close partnership with the Students’ Union, the University offers a wide range of opportunities for personal development, including volunteering, summer internships, personal development and skills training. In providing a wide range of opportunities to learn through experience and enhance personal development and career prospects, we are producing graduates who are well-equipped to act as good citizens and members of local, national and international society.
Students can volunteer to help with outreach activities, encouraging gifted and talented young people from socio-economic groups under-represented in Higher Education, to raise their educational aspirations. We provide a supportive learning environment, with central student services and academic departments working in partnership, and have one of the highest retention and success rates in the UK. We have an excellent record for supporting students with disabilities to the successful completion of their studies. We encourage students from diverse backgrounds and provide financial support.
We are keen to ensure that our students and graduates have a strong awareness of the environmental impact of their actions. Students in campus residences are encouraged to take part in an annual competition to reduce energy use and students were involved in the development of our Climate Action Framework. Our Climate Literacy Programme for all students was launched in 2021-22 and in 2023 we are launching our new MSc in Zero Carbon Futures.
Creativity, enterprise and innovation
The knowledge that we generate through our research and teaching activities can be exploited to achieve a number of public benefits:
- innovating, informing and inspiring
- engaging communities and working in partnership
- stimulating local economic and social development
- building international connections
We are sector leaders in knowledge exchange, applying fresh thinking to accelerate economic growth and social advances. Our Innovation Centre is helping to diversify the economic profile of the City by incubating high-yield businesses. The University of Bath is a member of the SETsquared partnership which in November 2019 was ranked as the world’s leading University-linked business incubator, a position it has occupied since 2015. SETsquared celebrated its 20th anniversary during 2022-23. It has helped over 5,000 start-ups raise more than £3.9 billion of investment. In 2022, SETsquared won the ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support of the Year’ category at the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities Triple E awards. SETsquared offers the Intrapreneurial Knowledge Exchange Enterprise Pathway (IKEEP) to our students. This is fully funded training aimed at equipping students with the skills to drive innovation and bring fresh thinking to businesses.
We aim to create tomorrow’s business leaders and foster an innovative culture. We signpost sources of skills development, funding and support. We offer enterprise education for students and they are encouraged to develop entrepreneurial skills. A number of students develop business models or launch their own businesses whilst studying. In October 2022, we hosted the Texas-based spin-out company, 3 Day Startup(3DS), to provide three days of enterprise support for our student entrepreneurs and we launched a new Academic Secondment Scheme aimed at developing, building and strengthening collaborations with external organisations (private, public and charity sector) to support knowledge exchange. In January 2023, we launched E-Lab, our new Enterprise Laboratory, a dedicated space to support the University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
As part of our culture of creativity, enterprise and innovation, we seek to make a positive social, as well as economic, impact. We have outstanding sports facilities and offer a programme of community sport, TeamBath Tribe, encouraging young people in particular to engage in sporting activities. We also offer a public arts programme, including visual arts, theatre, dance and music. Our public lecture series has been delivered online during the pandemic, with lectures being made available on Soundcloud, which has increased the number of individuals accessing them.
We believe that there is a benefit to our academic activities and, hence our charitable objectives, in having a truly international culture on campus. Our international culture also has benefits locally and regionally. Our ability to attract internationally renowned researchers contributes to our capacity to contribute to the regional and national knowledge economy. Through our international connections we can provide a conduit to disseminate best international practice and cutting-edge research locally, regionally and nationally. We also believe that a culturally diverse student population makes a positive impact on the experience of all of our students.
In addition to the international profile of our teaching and research activities, we are forging international connections through our alumni network and our world-class sports facilities. We have around 127,000 alumni, representing 173 countries. Our alumni are encouraged to make philanthropic donations to enhance the student experience, our physical infrastructure and our research capacity. This enhances our capacity to deliver our charitable objectives. We also have around 1,600 Alumni Experts, spread across 140 countries who support other alumni and students via our online mentoring platform, Bath Connection.
During 2022-23, the UK bobsleigh and bobskeleton team, based at the University, had its most successful competitive season. Last year also saw preparations for the campus to host the 2023 World Modern Pentathlon Championship.
Sustainability and Climate Action
Our University Strategy includes a commitment to support a sustainable community and adopting best environmental practice. We also recognise our responsibility to address the grand challenges of sustainability and climate change, and our approach allows us to empower our students and deliver research with impact alongside reducing our own environmental impact. Since the University declared a climate emergency in 2020, we have begun our journey through a joined-up, ‘whole institution’ response, across the 4 themes of Education, Research, Footprint and Partnerships, and is supported by our 11 Climate Action Principles:
1. Carbon emissions reduction
- Being Net Zero Carbon in its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030
- A 50% reduction in its Scope 3 emissions by 2030
- Being Net Zero Carbon in its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2040
2. Research and innovation
Supporting world-class research activities at the University of Bath, and in wider collaborations, to deliver impactful research and innovation supporting the transition to the net zero carbon economy.
3. Learning and teaching
Developing educational initiatives to build a world-class reputation for high-quality education on climate-related issues with global reach and scale, for example by:
- providing opportunities for every student to study and work on climate-related issues
- delivering programmes with a sustainability agenda
- delivering pedagogically innovative teaching practices to reduce carbon emissions
4. University strategy
Supporting the transition to the net zero carbon economy through the University’s strategy, sub-strategies and its core decision-making, and throughout its core values and its commitments.
5. University Governance
Ensuring there is clear leadership and governance for implementation of the Climate Action Framework, with public accountability through transparent disclosure of progress against our principles.
6. University campus emissions reduction and climate change adaptation
Reducing all University campus carbon emissions, in a manner that is consistent with the broader principles of sustainability and in a Just Transition. Understanding and responding to the consequences of climate change adaptation on the campus and the University’s supply chain.
7. Internationalisation strategy
Supporting and encouraging carbon-responsible international engagement to ensure sustainable collaborations that meet our strategic internationalisation goals.
8. Carbon management
Improving the data quality relating to the University’s carbon emissions, recognising that this is a strategic tool to understand and systematically reduce its carbon footprint.
9. University finances
Taking the principles of the Climate Action Framework into account in all key funding and investment decisions.
10. University community awareness and action
Supporting behavioural and cultural changes to enable carbon reduction targets through engagement across the University community.
11. University of Bath: local leader and partner
Working with key partners from the local community, industry, public sector bodies and third sector organisations, to support the transition to the net zero carbon economy.
Our approach was created through consultation with our whole community, and staff and students continue to believe in this vision, supporting strong action across all aspects of university life, and are fully involved in implementing the necessary action, across the 4 themes of Education, Research, Footprint and Partnerships:
Through the Education we’re delivering at Bath, we aim to empower our students and graduates with sustainability skills and knowledge to empower them to be leaders, innovators and changemakers now and in the future. Through our Climate Action Project, we are helping build a world-class reputation for high-quality education across a range of disciplines to fully address climate change. To achieve this, we are embedding sustainability in all course experiences and are seeking to provide impactful learning opportunities for every student to study and work on sustainability issues. We’re also introducing new courses and exploring pedagogically innovative teaching practices to reduce carbon emissions.
Sustainability is one of the University’s three key Research themes and ground-breaking work is taking place across the spectrum of disciplines covered by our research, with experts researching solutions to the climate crisis from multiple angles. Our research has already developed solutions which are delivering real emission reductions now, whilst current work will be part of the solutions of the future – not only in transitioning to the low carbon economy through technical, political and behavioural measures but also in building adaptative capacity and resilience for a changed climate.
Within our University Strategy we have a clear commitment to environmental best practice, and we are demonstrating this in our commitment to reach net zero emissions across all scopes within our Footprint by 2040. We’re proud that despite significant growth as a university since 2005, we’ve achieved a 47% reduction of our scope 1 and 2 emissions in that time. Now, we have initial pathways to achieving net zero but it is only through the support and action of our whole community, and also many stakeholders external to the University, that we will be successful.
As a civic organisation, we take great responsibility in how we can support and influence wider societal transformation in response to the climate crisis and sustainability challenges. As such, we are active in developing meaningful collaborative Partnerships to help address sustainability challenges across the sector, nationally and internationally but also from more local place-based relationships with the West of England Combined Authority and Bath and North East Somerset Council.
We produce a public annual report which details recent activities and our progress to date. Find out more about the Climate Action Project and our sector-leading work in this area – see Climate change and the University of Bath.
Other impacts of our activities
We are the second largest employer in Bath & North East Somerset, with around 3,800 employees. We now undertake three ‘Work and Wellbeing’ surveys a year, benchmarking the results against ONS data. We have also introduced an engagement index.
We do not believe that there is any direct harm or detriment to the public arising from our Mission and corporate goals. However, our success in attracting students does mean that our student population puts a significant demand on the residential accommodation in the Bath and North East Somerset area so we liaise with the planning team of the Bath and North East Somerset Council to inform their accommodation forecasts. During 2022-23, our new Campus Masterplan was incorporated in the B&NES Local Plan: Partial Update. The Masterplan assesses the future development capacity of campus and balances demand for new residential accommodation and non-residential accommodation on campus. We are currently liaising with the B&NES planning team to inform the evidence base to be used to underpin the development of the new Local Plan.
We hold three meetings a year of the Local Residents’ Forum to ensure that our nearest neighbours are briefed on our capital plans and our programme of events for campus. In this way, we try to mitigate the impact of our activities on our immediate community.
We seek to promote the highest standards of scientific and professional integrity and to give due consideration to the ethical, social and environmental issues arising from our activities. In 2022-23, we published our ninth annual statement on research integrity. We also created a new Research Governance and Compliance team and launched a new online research ethics system.
In advancing knowledge to improve health and wellbeing, we undertake various projects in medical research and medically-associated biological research. This work is funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and major medical charities including the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Arthritis Research UK and Diabetes UK. Research in the UK involving vertebrate animals is regulated, within the framework of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, by the Home Office Animals Scientific Procedures Division and Inspectorate. All work on vertebrate animals is conducted under Home Office Licence. This means that any projects we undertake have been through an ethical review process, and have then been assessed by a Home Office Inspector. The University is committed to the three Rs – Refinement, Reduction and Replacement of experiments involving animals.
Our statement in response to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 section 54(1) is published on our website.