Vice-Chancellor's November message
UEA is a world-leading teaching and research university and as your Vice-Chancellor I am focused on creating an excellent student and academic experience. What makes UEA special is its people and I want to ensure that our students and staff receive the support and facilities that enable them to be the best they can be.
We will focus on investing in our people through the next five years (2020 to 2025) of the UEA Vision and Plan.
One area we can do this is by supporting the wellbeing of our staff and ensuring our pay and reward structures are fair; as an Executive Team we are:
* calling for expressions of interest from people who would like to join the People Working Group being led by Ian Callaghan and Sarah Barrow;
* supporting the recommendations of the UUK-UCU Joint Expert Panel to increase employer pension contributions by 2.1% to the USS pension scheme
* paying the voluntary Living Wage to staff from April 2019
* ensuring UEA’s lowest paid staff have this year also received a minimum 2.8% pay rise and ensuring that for other staff there has been a minimum 2% pay rise (with an average pay rise of 3.65% through increments)
* paying the visa costs of international staff and will also pay fees for non-UK EU staff registering for residency in the UK
In addition to these actions we will be working with staff and union representatives to see how we can further support mental wellbeing, raise awareness of mental health at work and encourage a more open conversation in the workplace.
As well as supporting staff I want to ensure that our students’ experience is an inspiring one and one way we can do this is by investing in teaching spaces and the campus environment.
UEA as a campus has grown and our facilities have grown with our student body, from the SportsPark through to the Students’ Union building and the library. We want to enable people to teach, research, learn, study and collaborate and to do so in a modern environment.
Large parts of the campus including the Lasdun wall date from the 1960s. Much of it is Grade II listed and, as a result, UEA is custodian to architecture of national significance. However, much of this estate is now beyond its design life and needs refurbishing to ensure that future generations of students and staff can benefit from inspiring spaces to learn, teach and research.
With some 60 per cent of the University’s income derived directly from teaching, and with uncertainty over fee levels and the future impact of Brexit, I am conscious we need to apportion our income as fairly as possible.
At the beginning of this academic year, our governing body, UEA Council, signed off on a financing deal that enables UEA to undertake the redevelopment of the Lasdun wall and associated new buildings. The financing both unlocks the money required and has halved the interest the University pays on our current borrowings.
The scale of investment over the next 15 or so years is considerable at £250 million and will continue to transform the facilities we currently have into spaces for learning and research fit for the 22nd century.
Building 60 on Chancellor’s Drive is fast approaching completion and gives us general teaching and teaching laboratory space outside the Lasdun Wall; while the proposed new Building Zero will provide a new focal point for our campus, providing a welcoming teaching environment for students, staff and visitors.
My focus as Vice-Chancellor is to ensure UEA has the best teaching and learning environment, inspiring students and supporting colleagues to be best we can be, that UEA is a leading institution in the region and that we are addressing the global issues vital to the next generation.
With this in mind it’s fantastic to see the support we are receiving for our ambitious UEA Health and Care Partners alliance with organisations across Norfolk and Suffolk. The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences is leading the formation and management of the partnership but it’s an opportunity for all schools to work with health and care organisations and increase impact in research and innovation activities. We’ll collaborate to drive up the level of research and innovation in health and care across our region and benefit both service users and health and care professionals.
I would just like to end this message by highlighting two aspects of our work at UEA. As you may be aware, we were successful in a multi-million pound bid to NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) to fund new postgraduate research vital to the future of our planet. The Doctoral Training Partnership entitled ARIES will fund at least 80 PhD students to carry out vital environmental research and train the leading scientists of tomorrow.
Finally, I would like to thank the team of people who conducted the Alumni Call Campaign over the autumn. This four week telethon has seen students at UEA on the phone to alumni under the guidance of regular giving officer Rosie Tarleton, and together they have raised more than £160,000. These funds will support Postgraduate Scholarships, UEA’s Enterprise Fund and the Tiger Test for Prostate Cancer research.
Prof David Richardson