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President's weekly update

18 April 2019

Senior colleagues and I hosted an event for about 50 academic and Professional Services staff who have recently joined our University. Matt Atkin, Director of Planning, spoke about progress to date on Our Future, the next vision and strategic plan for our University. Staff fed back their ideas on the significance of our heritage, the idea of ‘Manchesterness’, the importance of our motto ‘knowledge, wisdom and humanity’ in describing our values, the need to be more agile and efficient and to take a few more risks. They suggested we should have short staff secondments to different parts of the University and between academic and Professional Services for staff to gain better understanding of the University and its many activities.

At another meeting with staff from across the University we discussed the importance of support for less experienced staff in research and grant applications, especially in areas with major regulatory requirements such as clinical research. Several had benefitted from professional support in shaping grant applications. They also highlighted the need for support for staff and students with caring responsibilities and of raising further awareness of health and wellbeing. They felt strongly that attainment of a professorship should mean an obligation in leadership and mentoring more junior staff.

The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) foresight group, which looks at the future needs of Greater Manchester, discussed creative industries and related activities. The guest speaker was Sir Peter Bazalgette who is chair of ITV and has previously been chair of the Arts Council. We covered topics including community engagement on creative activities, embedding skills across the curriculum, creativity and health, business and the economy and building on our own Creative Manchester initiative.

The Oxford Road Corridor Board, which I chair, was held in the Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) Executive Education suite. We discussed our delivery plan, visitors to the Corridor, and promotion of activities on the Corridor. After the meeting most of us had a tour of the magnificently refurbished AMBS building.

I spoke to a group of entrepreneurial leaders from universities across the UK at their conference in Manchester about the future of universities and about our own extensive entrepreneurial activities. We estimate that about 25% of our students take part in some such activities and have just opened our new Masood Enterprise Centre in AMBS.

I gave the opening welcome at three separate conferences on campus: the Fintech conference in our Whitworth Hall, the British Society for Parasitology and the annual conference of Chevening scholars. The latter includes over 1,700 scholars from across the world. The conference of nearly 200 was oversubscribed and included many who have scholarships to study at our University.

We held one of our regular meetings with leaders from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Manchester City Council. We updated them on ‘Our Future’ plans, our activities under ‘Digital Futures’ and ‘Creative Manchester’, plans for Innovation District Manchester (North Campus), our work on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and our position in the THE university impact rankings, policy work with GMCA, future work on skills, likely publication of GM local industrial strategy and international student applications.

In a separate meeting, Alan Ferns, Associate Vice-President for External Relations and Reputation, and I met Councillor Sean Fielding  who is leader of Oldham Council and also GMCA lead on skills. He came to learn about our work with GM schools, our Manchester Access and school governors programmes and student volunteering.

Alan Ferns, Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and I travelled to Old Trafford to discuss collaborations with the Chief Executive of Manchester United Football Club, Collette Roche, and their Head of Communications, Charlie Brooks. We already have strong links with Manchester City Football Club, but to date we have been less active with Manchester United. 

There will be no message next week as I know many staff will be in holiday, on study leave or at conferences. I hope that you have a restful break.

Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor