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Your Council - bulletin 4 from the Chair of Council

Dec 22, 2016

Baroness Beverley Hughes, Chair of Council
Baroness Beverley Hughes, Chair of Council
 
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Your Council

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Welcome to … the fourth in a regular series of news stories designed to keep you informed about the work of your University Council

The Higher Education and Research Bill currently going through Parliament presents both challenges and opportunities to Universities in the UK. Not least is the establishment of a new Teaching Excellence Framework which will eventually grade each university on a three point scale: gold, silver and bronze. The lowest-ranked universities will be restricted in a number of important ways that will have a significant impact on their ability to attract students.

That is why, we held the first event in which the University Council, Senate and University Management Team (UMT) members came together to discuss the impact of TEF and the priorities for the University.

I believe it’s crucially important to explore our key opportunities and challenges collectively and I’m looking forward to working together like this more often to debate key themes of strategic importance.

As the VC, Professor Helen Marshall, indicated at the event, the impact of TEF and the STERN Research Excellence Framework (REF) review is forcing all universities to address the way they work. The entire dynamics of the sector are shifting. The impact cannot be underestimated – it’s the biggest shake up of the sector since the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act when 35 polytechnics were allowed to take university status.

We were given an overview of the national and international policy context by experts from Wonkhe and Ranmore Consulting. Then our Director of Strategy, Jackie Njoroge, explained the implications of this for Salford.

It became abundantly clear that we need to put actions in place now to address our performance in order to achieve the best possible outcome when the TEF ratings are published next year. If we fail to achieve a Silver rating, we will be unable to raise our fees in line with inflation. This would mean a significant funding gap and would jeopardise all the improvements we want to see – to improve student experience, continue to modernise the campus and it will mean a step change in the way we do things. The Industry Collaboration Zone framework and the work our Organisational Development team is undertaking across the University will help this. Schools and Professional Services’ teams have been briefed by Deans and Directors, supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Team, about the importance of the TEF and performance improvements that we need to put in place.

Competition is bound to grow from private providers, who offer interesting options – money back guarantees and lots of blended and flexible learning to tempt students, it may be that we could learn a lot from their skills at bringing in disruptive change and consider a more commercial approach. What does make us stand out, however, from these private providers, is the quality of our cross-school research and the fact we have academic expertise on site.

We will all need to respond to the opportunities TEF presents. We will be working hard to ensure that you fully understand how you can contribute and, in particular, become ICZ-ready, so that we can meet the challenges head on. With the Deans of School, we will scrutinise our portfolio, making sure we capitalise on demand for particular programmes and introduce new courses of study. We will work to tighten up our data systems, so that we can interrogate them properly and ensure joined-up, efficient working across the University.

The good news is we’re ahead of the game. The principles underpinning our ICZ delivery will ensure industry is embedded in everything we do and drive more flexible and customer-oriented practices, which naturally will improve performance and help us hit the TEF metrics.

These are exciting times and I can assure you that, as your governing body, we will work with you all to ensure Salford continues to embrace the challenge and continue on its upward trajectory.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

 

Beverley Hughes
Chair of Council

 
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For more news about Council, its terms of reference and membership, visit: http://www.governance.salford.ac.uk/page/council

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