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Friday 19 December 2014

Vice-Chancellor’s Christmas Blog

I mentioned in my last blog how quickly time has passed and this has continued as we have rapidly reached Christmas. The time between September and the New Year is particularly busy and this year has been no exception. I always think this is a good sign but recognise that we will now all benefit from a well-earned break. We can look back on another very successful year and look forward to an exciting and productive 2015.

There are a number of events that have happened recently that I want to highlight at this time. Before I arrived I was told that our Graduation ceremonies were very good and an excellent celebration of the student achievement. I have to say they lived up to their billing. I think the week was fantastic and the ceremonies as good as any I have experienced elsewhere. There was the right mix of formality and light-heartedness and the whole week had a celebratory atmosphere that did justice to the hard work of students and the support of staff, families and friends. I particularly thank everyone involved in the organisation and delivery of the ceremonies and once again congratulate everyone on their various successes. We had a long list of eminent Honorary Award recipients and they were testimony to the work and reputation of our broad range of programmes.

Graduation is undoubtedly a great showcase for the University but we do many other activities to bring people in to see the significant work we do. I have, along with colleagues, recently hosted a number of stakeholder dinners. We have hosted College Principals as well as business leaders. I have been pleased with the enthusiasm for such events and the regard in which external organisation hold us. We have excellent relationships with stakeholder bodies and these help us to continue to lead in the areas of ‘real world learning’. Within the University we have continued the internal ‘conversations’ and I again thank everyone who has engaged and supported the development of our plans for the future.

Another fantastic showcase is our open days. We organise some of the best in the sector, as evidenced by the comments I receive from prospective students and their parents. Our student ambassadors are excellent and the days are warm, welcoming and informative. We have a lot to be proud of and open days are an excellent opportunity for us to show off how good we are.

Our international activity continues, but this time at home. We recently hosted two delegations of colleagues from Chinese Universities. They spent time with us seeing our facilities and visiting relevant areas which, for one group, included Timsbury Lake and Test Park. They were able to watch the University football team take on AFC Bournemouth in the Hampshire Cup. (Congratulations to everyone involved in that event).

Sport continues to be prominent in the University, I attended a meeting of BUCS with Vice-Chancellors where Solent was praised for its volunteering and last week I heard from the very successful sportsmen and women who are in our High Performance Academy. Truly awe-inspiring!

I have provided separate updates as to the development of the strategy and our on-going structure so won’t add anything further other than to mention the REF results as they relate to our strategic priority to be research-informed. The results once again show the excellence of research across the sector and also demonstrate that ‘world leading’ work can be found in almost all universities in the country. We were delighted to have such work in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies and in Art and Design. Additionally we have internationally excellent work in the areas of Engineering and in Sport and Exercise Science. We entered into two new areas this year, broadening our profile which aligns well with the proposed structure of six academic schools from 1 August 2015. Like other universities, our entry was an improvement compared with 2008 and provides the platform for our emerging research strategy. We are committed to building on these submissions and growing both in capability and capacity. I look forward to working with colleagues to advance in this area over the months and years to come.

As I said at the start, this has been a good year. Thanks to all for your hard work and I wish you a restful and Happy Christmas. I look forward to an exciting and successful New Year.