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2022: Our University in Review

21 Dec 2022

As the end of the year approaches, we take a look back at achievements, memories and more from around our University

2022: Our University in Review

It's been another momentous year at our University, and as the year draws to a close, we celebrate the achievements, events and more that happened in 2022. Compiled by our Media Relations team, this year's review gives an in-depth look at our amazing work and highlights. 

A goodbye and welcomes

We said goodbye to poet, writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay OBE as our Chancellor, and welcomed former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England, Nazir Afzal OBE. Lemn's great association with our University will continue as Honorary Professor of Creative Writing.

We also welcomed our new Chief Financial Officer Carol Prokopyszyn, who joined in June 2022 and PJ Hemmaway as our new Director of IT Services in July 2022.

A research powerhouse

This year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) results confirmed our University as a research powerhouse. We retained fifth place with 93% of research being assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Thanks to all colleagues who worked so hard on our submissions.

Our research continued to make the headlines this year, and a 'colossal' story to make the national and international news was the discovery of Britain’s largest ever marine reptile in Rutland.  We announced a new centre for robotics and AI, while an existing robot named Lyra was helping to improve the safety and efficiency of decommissioning a nuclear reactor. Developed by Professor Barry Lennox and his team, it has been named one of the inventions of the year by TIME magazine.

One of our biggest research stories of the year saw the trial development of a new 3-minute swab test to diagnose Parkinson's Disease, with the help of ‘super-smeller’ Joy Milne.  Joy's unique talent allows her to distinguish Parkinson's Disease in people before symptoms occur, a rare talent being harnessed by researchers.

The continuing work of our academics to highlight the devastating plight of microplastics in UK rivers has been hugely influential and has helped drive investigations into the behaviour of water companies, and the roles of regulators in tacking illegal activity. 

Supporting Ukraine

As the world’s gaze fell upon Ukraine, colleagues from our International Programmes Office (IPO) worked to help students return to the UK. Humanitarian charity UK-Med, founded at our University, launched an appeal to support their emergency medical teams, with the backing of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. One of our own colleagues also cycled 1400km around the Netherlands to raise funds for UK-Med.

Our University twinned with the Ivan Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University (TNMU) in Western Ukraine to support medical students whose studies have been disrupted by the conflict with Russia. The support aims to stabilise the pipeline of desperately needed newly-qualified doctors. 

Social responsibility

We announced the end of investments in coal, oil and gas, as part of our policy for socially responsible investment, also being named one of the world’s leading universities for action on sustainable development

We published initial findings into historic links with slavery, involving a number of early benefactors to predecessor institutions, which went on to become The University of Manchester. We continue to support Manchester City Council’s own investigations into the city’s past as part of wider engagement on this topic.

Foundation Day

This year’s Foundation Day centred around the installation of our new Chancellor and Former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England, Nazir Afzal OBE. Honorary degrees were bestowed on our outgoing Chair of the Board of Governors Edward Astle, alumna and African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, and actor, writer, theatre producer and activist Julie Hesmondhalgh. 

Our cultural institutions

More than 200 guests from music and creative arts attended the launch of the British Pop Archive and the accompanying exhibition, Collection. The archive dedicated to the preservation and research of popular culture, held at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library, features iconic items from the Manchester pop culture scene.

Our much-loved Museum will be reopening in February 2023. A two-storey extension has extended its footprint by 25%, and there has been extensive reconfiguration of existing spaces. 

bluedot returned to Jodrell Bank with legendary artist Björk headlining and performing during an audio-visual orchestral show.

And congratulations to the Whitworth, selected as one of only 15 art institutions worldwide to receive one of the Getty Foundation’s Paper Project grants for 2022.

Teaching and learning

Our summer graduation ceremonies returned in-person for the first time since 2019, and it coincided with some of the hottest, record-breaking temperatures ever recorded in the UK. A big ‘thank you’ to our colleagues who supported graduation and worked tirelessly to make it an occasion to remember. Students who completed their courses join our community of more than 500,000 alumni – one of the largest of any university in the world.

Following a busy Confirmation and Clearing in August, we welcomed new and returning students to campus for the new academic year. Welcome ran for two weeks in September, and colleagues, students, student ambassadors, student representatives and many others contributed to two weeks of successful activities and helped provide a memorable and exciting experience for new students arriving in Manchester.

We launched our Flexible Learning strategy, which sets our direction towards increased flexibility over pace, place, pathway and practice, giving our students greater control over how they learn, while offering staff more support in creating inclusive, accessible and international learning that works across delivery modes. 

Reflections on Queen Elizabeth II

Following the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nancy Rothwell said: "Her Majesty holds a special place in our University’s history and affections, having presented the University’s Royal Charter in 2004."

Our University has been honoured by visits from Queen Elizabeth and the-then Prince Charles on several occasions. We gathered a selection of photos and videos from our archives to celebrate these visits, as our community mourned the Queen’s passing and welcomed the accession of the new King.

Forging international ties

We celebrated the first anniversary of our alliance with the universities of Melbourne and Toronto that’s delivering teaching and research on some of the world’s most urgent challenges. We announced an ambitious partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa University of Science and Technology with the aim to deliver a funding boost to graphene innovation. And a senior delegation visited India, where new joint doctoral degree programme with IISc Bangalore, a first for a UK HEI, was launched.

Looking forward to 2023

All this couldn't be achieved without our exceptional staff and students. Thanks to everyone in our community who has contributed to this impressive list of achievements. We hope you have a restful break and look forward to seeing you in 2023.