VC’s week – 8 October 2012 - GCHQ, strategy refresh, and student numbers

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

I was delighted to welcome Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, on to campus last week. She was here to take part in a video being made to demonstrate the impact of university research. It will feature the work of Dr John Forth and his team in our School of Civil Engineering who have developed patented methods for manufacturing carbon-negative masonry products from waste materials and created a successful spin-out company called Encos. The video will be used at a ‘launch’ event in London later this month for the new Russell Group “Impact’ report, which will be well attended by leading figures from government, BIS and Industry, so it will be great to see Leeds featuring so prominently

Dr Piatt also accompanied me to an inspirational lecture on ‘GCHQ and the Turing Legacy’ given by Iain Lobban, an alumnus of this University (French and German 1983) and now Director of GCHQ . This was to mark the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth and was given in Leeds in part to recognize the contribution of our School of Mathematics, and Professor Barry Cooper in particular, for their contribution to the Turing centenary website. Turing is a towering figure in cryptanalysis, mathematics and computer science and his contribution to cracking the wartime Enigma Code at Bletchley Park is legendary. This event was a real coup for us; the lecture hall and subsequent reception were packed with a huge range of enthusiastic people.

This week marks the start of our events to consult on the University strategy and I want as many staff as possible to feed in to this process – either by coming to one of the open meetings publicised on For Staff, through email or via the forms distributed in last month’s Reporter. This review of our strategy will give us an opportunity to stand back and assess whether we need to refocus our priorities, particularly given the increased competition that we are now experiencing across the board.

Greater competition and a significant reduction in the number of AAB+ students in the system this year has had an impact on our recruitment and, as predicted last term, our home undergraduate intake is 500 below plan. We are, however, in a good position financially to cope with this shortfall and envisage ‘business as usual’ over the next year. Although most of our peers seem to have experienced comparable falls, we are now putting a lot of effort into recruitment for 2013 to bring student numbers up to the levels we would want.

Finally, I must congratulate our University sports teams for their performance in the annual Leeds Varsity. By all accounts it was a thrilling contest, the highlight being the Rugby Union match – attended by a crowd of more than 11,000, despite the awful weather – in which our 1st XV stormed to a 27–11 victory over Leeds Met. This victory resulted in the tournament being drawn 30-30, the first time in nine years of Varsity that the Met have not won outright. Well done to all those involved.


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