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President's weekly update

22 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II

Many of us will have been greatly saddened by the death of the Queen and will have watched the many events unfold. I hope that you valued the additional Bank Holiday and time for your own reflections. We were represented at the state funeral by Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice Chancellor. While in Dubai, I managed to sign the book of condolences and lay flowers on the QE2 which is now moored in Dubai.

Welcoming our new students

So much seems to have changed over the last few weeks including a new Prime Minister and a new Monarch. But some things don’t change for us. Our new students have arrived and it is wonderful to see them on campus. Their first day was a Bank Holiday and I am grateful to the many staff who worked on that day to ensure that they had a warm welcome and their arrival went smoothly. I’d like to thank all those involved in arranging Welcome Week, especially those who have rearranged programmes at short notice. And thanks to those who’ve created a wonderful online showcase for the brilliant work we do for students in teaching and learning.

I know we will all welcome our new students with our usual friendliness and please do wear your ‘Ask Me’ badges to help them settle in.

We have, like many other cities, had unprecedented demand for accommodation, but a reduction in private rooms available. Thanks to the incredibly hard work by our accommodation staff, all students with an accommodation guarantee have now been offered a place in Manchester.

Middle East

I spent last week in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, my first trip outside Europe for a long time. I was very well looked after by Randa Bessiso, who leads our Centre in Dubai and her fantastic team. The Centre is extremely successful and clearly loved by its students and alumni, and in addition to its education programmes has major social responsibility activities. While we were there, they met their target to raise funds for a school in Nepal.

Randa arranged meetings with very senior government officials in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and with the British Ambassador. We also met senior staff at NYU in Abu Dhabi, The British University in Dubai (of which we were a founding member) and Khalifa University (KU). We signed an agreement with KU on applications of graphene which brings major funding and also discussed other areas of potential collaboration as part of Abu Dhabi’s investment in the UK and the North West region.

Back home

I spoke at an event to raise funds for our BeeWell project on health and wellbeing in school children, led by Professor Neil Humphreys and supported by one of our alumni, David Gregson. The aim of the event was to meet with many of our regional partners in BeeWell.

I met Mark Fisher CBE, CEO of NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care. He was very interested in our plan around health inequalities and was well aware of BeeWell and some of our other activities to address health in local communities.

At a Senate briefing, we discussed our performance and accountability processes, reporting to the Board of Governors, and our annual performance reviews. We made the important point that although there are many metrics that we benchmark against others (which are subject adjusted), it is the nuance and narrative around these measures that are just as important. While league tables can’t be ignored, sometimes their measures includes things that just don’t fit with our core goals so we have to accept that we may not do as well.

At a joint meeting with leaders of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, we discussed the likely priorities for the new leaders in government, our innovation accelerator, opportunities arising from UK Biobank’s move to Manchester, Innovation District Manchester and our work on health inequalities.

Next week I will be in India, so will send my next message the week after.

Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor