VC’s week – 26 November 2012 - Senate, Student Education Service and the Joint Statement

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

Within 24 hours of returning from what was a very successful trip to China* I was straight into the second Senate of this academic year, which was a very useful and productive meeting. Much of our discussion focused on our student numbers and student recruitment for 2012, both undergraduate and postgraduate, as well as looking forward to 2013 entry. The standard of debate was excellent, with some interesting and constructive suggestions from the floor.

Members of VCEG and Deans have also been doing a lot of thinking about our student recruitment, and how this might be better managed in the future. Our primary objective is to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clear between centre, faculties and schools, that we are nimble and responsive, and that we work together to solve problems and recruit student numbers to plan, at the highest possible quality. One idea to emerge is that we should have a high-level steering group to provide oversight, which I will chair. Other ideas remain in discussion, but are focused around better coordination and decision making within existing structures. This is not about centralisation, but about being proactive and effective in a highly competitive world.

I paid Student Administration (SA) a visit last week. It’s been a demanding time for them, with the introduction of increased student fees coinciding with the consultations on the implementation of the Student Education Service (SES) and the inevitable uncertainty that such change can bring. I’d like to thank SA colleagues for their continued hard work over the last few months. Not surprisingly, I encountered natural concerns about the plans for how the central teams will work with those in schools and faculties. To reassure them, I really do believe that this will ultimately be about getting it right for our students, coupled with an improved career structure for staff. Following the two phases of consultation, we want to proceed without delay to the roadshow describing the integrated service, and then to implementation, so that everyone has as much clarity as possible about the future.

Several coach loads of our students made it down to London for Demo 2012, organised by the National Union of Students. Despite absolutely appalling weather, thousands of students turned out to make sure that the future of higher education stays high on this government’s agenda. Hats off to Leeds University Union (LUU) for approaching me with the idea of issuing a statement about areas of mutual concern, such as graduate employability, current funding models and student numbers. Timed to coincide with the protest, our Joint Statement went live and was picked up externally. It's pretty unusual to see a university and its student body making a statement of this nature, and the fact that we were able to do this reflects the spirit of the close Partnership we have with our students.


*Read more about the University’s delegation to China in the next issue of the Reporter, due out week commencing 10 December.

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