Vice-Chancellor update - October 2018
The pace of activity at any University is at its hottest at this time of the year – and nowhere is that more true than for us, here, at the moment. The good news is – we are well underway getting to grips with what needs to be done.
Well done to all those who have been involved in getting the new semesters underway. I know it hasn’t been easy, but it has been possible, and students are now engaged in the new learning, including open courses they have not had access to before. I don’t underestimate the effort involved in getting this far. Hopefully our extra days' leave at Christmas will give us a tiny bit more breathing space at the end of the year.
Thanks also to all who attended one of the Town Hall meetings I have hosted over the last month. It is important that we have a chance to talk face to face, and to reaffirm priorities and values, as well as looking back at a year of significant achievement.
I want to update you on some of the work that is going on around our three priority areas for 2018/19; the NSS, recruitment and a long look at our finances. None of these is the responsibility of only part of the University so I am reporting to all of you as stakeholders in each of these priorities.
In terms of NSS, I have now met with all staff who are responsible for degree programmes. I was able to learn from best practice in the University, share advice and anecdotes, develop a granular understanding of our challenges and strengths, and in some cases initiate work to help with staffing, space or timetabling issues. Becky Schaaf is continuing to develop projects to help sort out student issues with organisation and management, through her STePs projects - an early win was the new look to Minerva.
The Students' Union has produced a detailed action plan for their NSS scores. They are also working as lead partners to develop a stronger Academic Rep network.
Around Recruitment, the University now has an agreed and original offer for applicants which is being rolled out via the web, print literature, social media and open days.
Our “3,2,1 Go!” initiative works like this - if a student can show us talent, through an interview, audition or portfolio, we will make them an offer that is not dependent on exam grades. If a student exceeds their predicted grades, or achieves AAB or better, we will award a £750 scholarship. If a student accepts our place, we will guarantee accommodation for their first year.
I hope this will both attract capable students and keep their engagement with school or college high after we accept them. I also hope we will find talent which is perhaps hidden at the moment under the new, exam-focused A-levels. I also genuinely hope that this will help our applicants with the inevitable stress around A-level: we want young people to focus on being the best they can be, where the competition that matters is against themselves.
We have developed a new suite of degrees for entry in October 2019, and are planning more for 2020. Our Marketing team are working hard to ensure that the right messages go out about our offer.
As most of you know, we have had lower recruitment of students this year than we hoped, and there is a need to ensure our costs are in line with our income. As a result, we are looking at how we phase the timing of some capital projects, and investigating ways we might do some things more efficiently, while protecting the student experience.
Thanks to everyone who is putting time into many of these important priorities, particularly at this important time of the year: I am happy to see we are working on our core challenges as a whole community, and finding solutions that will put us in the right place over the next year.
Thanks as ever for your effort and enthusiasm.
Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.
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