I succeeded Professor Caroline Gipps as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton in August 2011. When I joined, I found the institution to be in an excellent position in terms of its academic reputation and delivery, student experience, finances and regional and international partnerships, and this is really testament to Caroline’s strong leadership. As I talked to staff, students and other key stakeholders during my first 100 days, a common theme began to emerge. Our students are proud of their learning environment, and of the academic staff. It was also clear that the University has a significant role to play in the social and economic regeneration of our region.
We developed a new strategic direction in the autumn of 2011. A wide consultation exercise took place with staff, students, and regional partners - both in the UK and overseas - and key businesses in the region.
In our new strategy we have decided that we need to treat our students as connected partners. Our focus should be their learning experience and their journey after completing their studies. If we are to fulfil our core mission and stay true to our values; being ethical, respectful, inclusive and fair; acting professionally, transparently, and confidently, and challenging when engaging with key communities, our immediate region will benefit from highly skilled employable graduates. Let’s also not forget our place in the world. Through our curriculum developments, our graduates will be digitally literate, global citizens, and it is important that they and we recognise opportunities overseas.
The business community, now more than ever before, will need the help of our experts. Our advice, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit will build on the business strategies of companies within our region and further afield. Our new direction will stimulate enterprise and assist companies with their specific needs so that we can, through a partnership model, begin to come through the economic gloom of the last few years.
As the new academic year began, we committed to invest and support our research capacity. The University performed well in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), and preparations for the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) are well underway.
We had some significant achievements in 2010-11, and I hope you enjoy reading about them. Higher education institutions such as ours will face many challenges over the next few years but I am confident that our new strategic direction will ensure that we continue to grow and prosper with our partners – students, staff, and businesses, regional and international stakeholders.
On behalf of the Board of Governors, I commend this report to you. It provides a valuable insight into the significant achievements of our students and staff.
Professor Geoff Layer was welcomed as Vice-Chancellor by the University community towards the end of the 2010-11 academic year, following the retirement of Professor Caroline Gipps. Under Professor Gipps' leadership, the University had built up solid foundations in learning and teaching, research and business engagement. The developments during her six years as Vice-Chancellor have helped the University prepare for the challenges that lie ahead, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to her.
The academic year 2010-11 will also be remembered for university students across the UK making their voices heard on the subject of higher education funding. This was a stark reminder of the generational impact of decisions made following the Browne Review. It was also an indication that the student remains at the heart of our higher education system, and that universities must focus their efforts on the quality of the student experience they offer more than ever before.
The University is well placed to tackle the many challenges faced by the sector and I hope you enjoy reading this report which outlines some of our key achievements.