August message from the Vice-Chancellor
As we near the end of the summer break, preparations for the start of the new academic year are gearing up – and nothing focuses our minds more than Clearing and Adjustment, which I am pleased to report has been very successful. Thanks to everyone who was involved this year, especially all the academic and professional services staff who volunteered to help out by answering calls or phoning back offer holders during the first few days of our busiest Clearing season ever. And thanks also to those of you who welcomed visitors on our Clearing Open Days.
With significant numbers of students waiting until they receive their results before applying to university, and a strong demand for university places despite the fall in the population of 18-year-olds, we’re making offers to well-qualified, high-quality students via Clearing and I look forward to welcoming them here next month.
As a passionate believer in the importance of a university education, I’m delighted to see that gaining a degree remains the preferred next step for so many school-leavers. Most university graduates still earn substantially more than their non-graduate peers – around £10,000 – and the Institute of Student Employers predicts that there will be an 11% rise in graduate vacancies this year. I know that our students here at UEA receive not only a top teaching experience, but are encouraged and supported in developing the skills and confidence that will enable them to be successful in their future chosen careers.
The difference we can and do make to our students’ lives should never be under estimated and, while our excellence is recognised in many ways, such as our Gold TEF award, it’s always most gratifying when we hear about the impact we’ve made from our students themselves. That’s why I was so pleased to receive letters from students who graduated this summer, and one in particular who wanted to express his “sincere thanks to all the lecturing and administering staff at the UEA who helped me”, particularly mentioning Prof Lawrence Coates, Lydia Blake, Nathan Byram and Louisa Ball. “They have always been there for me, 24/7,” he added. “I just wanted to let you know what wonderful and caring staff you have, they really do change lives.”
It’s the people who make UEA the wonderful place that it is, and that’s why I and my colleagues on the Executive Team are recognising your commitment by making the annual pay award this month, rather than delaying payment until the ballot of trade union members is complete.
As we announced last week, the offer made via the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) is 2.8% for our lowest-paid staff and a minimum of 2% for everyone else. Added to the annual salary increment, this means the average pay rise is 3.5%. We are determined to make the best pay award we can despite the financial headwinds we’re facing, so this additional £2.1 million investment is one that we’re very happy to make in acknowledgement of your continued hard work. Thank you.
My congratulations to Phil Steele on his appointment to the new position of Director of Sport and Commercial Services, which saw Catering, Accommodation and the Nursery added to his role. It’s part of a reorganisation of responsibilities following the appointment of Jenny Baxter and Ian Callaghan to their respective roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Resource Officer, and will enable us to manage our commercial portfolio in a more holistic way.
Huge congratulations as well to Dr Stephen Ashworth, who received an Inspirational Member Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry for his highly engaging “Kitchen Chemistry” show encouraging schoolchildren to take an interest in the sciences. I was also delighted to learn of the honour given to Andrew Watkinson, Emeritus Professor in Environmental Sciences, in being made an honorary member of the British Ecological Society. This is a hugely prestigious achievement, awarded to just eight ecologist a year in recognition of the exceptional impact of their work. He now numbers alongside the likes of Sir David Attenborough in receiving the organisation’s highest honour.
With so much ground-breaking research undertaken every day, it’s vital that information about the great things we do is available to the wider world. Earlier this summer, we launched the new enhanced PURE portal, a project led by ITCS and RIN that takes the information about our research held in PURE and showcases it online. If you’re an academic staff member, you will have a profile on the system, and I’m pleased to say that our PGR students will also be included from September. It is great that now it will be easier for the outside world to find out more about what we do – please keep your profile up to date!
Some of our cutting-edge research is, of course, carried out in partnership with our colleagues on Norwich Research Park. Last month, David Parfrey, the Executive Chair of Anglia Innovation Partnership LLP, unveiled an exciting and ambitious new vision for NRP for 2030 and beyond - to change lives and rethink society through pioneering research and innovation. It’s a vision that’s very much in line with our own. The ambition is for NRP not only to be an inspirational place to work, but somewhere the world looks to for the answers to global challenges and to learn from its success in creating a true research and innovation community. It’s a community we’re proud to be part of – both in helping to achieve these global ambitions and through the huge contribution made to the region through learning, jobs and growth.
From the beginning of September, we welcome Prof Frances Bowen as Pro-Vice Chancellor for Social Sciences. She comes from Queen Mary University of London, where she was Dean of the School of Business and Management and Prof of Innovation. I’m looking forward to her joining the Executive Team and I know that her experience will help us to deliver our own Vision and Plan.
Finally, a brief reminder. You may have seen the piece in last week’s Lasdun asking you to take part in the Copyright Licensing Agency royalties survey from 17 September to 26 October if you photocopy copyright pages from any publications to support your teaching or research. It should only take a few seconds every time you make a copy, and is part of a larger exercise to help ensure that royalties are correctly distributed to authors and publishers – something that many of us will benefit from personally.
Enjoy the remainder of the summer.
Prof David Richardson