By Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost
On Thursday last week (21 March) colleagues from across the University gathered together in Royal Fort House to celebrate the achievements of Bristol Futures and to recognise colleagues who have worked so hard to deliver this transformational educational initiative. This event was part of a new series of monthly Provost Academic Achievement Receptions that I established when I took up my new role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost in January, designed to recognise just some of the many outstanding academic achievements of staff across the University.
The January celebration marked the Outstanding Ofsted result obtained by the School of Education, in which our PGCE programme was deemed outstanding in every category. Sadly, this event was affected by the threat of snow and amber weather warnings, so we had to wait for our February celebration of EPSRC CDT success to really get the series underway.
The second Provost Celebration of Academic Achievement on the 21 February was a fantastic event, marking the exceptional award of nine EPSRC CDTs, the largest number awarded to any institution – plus one funded through the UKRI Artificial Intelligence call. Our CDTs span robotics, statistics and data science, quantum engineering, digital health, composite materials, chemical synthesis, cyber security, artificial intelligence and aerosol science. Impressively, our success rate was 82 per cent for the EPSRC CDTs competition, compared to the national average of 38 per cent. As a result, over 500 students will be trained at Bristol in partnership with our industrial collaborators. The awards will bring around £60m of investment for PhD training and research and have the potential to touch virtually all areas of our University, given the highly collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of our research community. Given that students are vital in order to sustain the health of our disciplines and world-leading research base, this is an immense success; a superb outcome and a testament to the excellent quality of our research and invaluable support from RED and so many others across the institution.
The third Provost Celebration on the 21 March celebrated the successes of Bristol Futures, which looks to develop students’ core academic and transferable skills as well as a rounded set of graduate attributes, to help them become career-ready and hence more employable. The Bristol Futures successes to date include the development of personal development planning resources and new online resources to support academic study skills. These have been used by over 17,000 students and delivered 170 workshops to over 2500 students. Four new interdisciplinary Optional Units, which have been co-developed with academics, students and external groups, have launched and been taken by 500 students across all faculties and two hundred new University Wide Language Programme unit spaces have been created. Our three Bristol Futures Open Online Courses have now run four times and so far totalled 4,125 registrations from University of Bristol students, plus an additional 12,993 external learners. This month also saw the successful soft launch of the myopportunities system, which, for the first time, puts all students volunteering and internship opportunities in one place.
Student involvement and co-authorship was a fantastic feature of the creation process for all the Bristol Futures workstreams, with the Student Advocates involved in all aspects of project roll-out from consultation stage through to feedback and promotion. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to celebrate Bristol Futures together with many of those who have worked so hard to realise these achievements.
I look forward to the next event in what I hope will become a series which engages more of our community in recognising our academic strengths and creates a sense of expectation as we look forward to the continued educational innovation at our university.
I am interested to hear ideas from our staff for future celebrations and welcome your suggestions.
If you have been inspired by any of the good work that your colleagues have been involved in I would also encourage you to nominate them for a Bristol Teaching Award. You can nominate a team or one person but you only have until Sunday 31 March to get your nomination in. Visit the BILT website to see the categories.