VC's week - 4 March 2013 - REF, impact, and student enthusiasm

A regular update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur.

Professor Michael Arthur

The latest phase of the University’s preparations for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) ended last week with the closing date for the February draft submission. My thanks to everyone who has been working so hard on this – it is time consuming and complex but it really is worth the effort to make sure our submission is as good as it possibly can be. The eventual outcome will make a significant difference to our future.

Preparing for REF 2014 – especially preparing the impact case studies – is drawing together great examples of Leeds’ research that is making a difference in the wider world. It was timely, then, to hear the announcement of a new £5.7m Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, to be led from the University. Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Fisher was interviewed for BBC Look North explaining how the centre, a collaboration between leading companies and five UK universities, is set to transform the manufacture and performance of replacement joints and medical implants.

Coincidentally, news of another engineering project being led by Leeds researchers caught the imagination of regional media last week, featuring on ITV’s Calendar. The report, which went out the same evening, explained how a rather unusual-sounding liquid-cooled computer server, which could cut the internet’s vast carbon footprint, is being tested here at the University. Other imminent results from our work on areas as diverse as banking reform, the sustainability of global car manufacture, voting patterns, and a possible genetic link between obesity and cancer, show the breadth of our research and its potential for impact on a national and international stage.

I attended two excellent, student-led events this week; the first was one of my regular Q&A sessions in the Union building. There was a good turnout and I fielded some interesting, wide-ranging questions covering everything from the challenges of recruiting in a global market to the accessibility of campus. At the invitation of Leeds University Union’s Education Officer Josh Smith, I also spoke at a meeting of the Aldwych Group – the body that represents the students unions of Russell Group universities. They asked me to speak about what it’s like to be a Vice-Chancellor of a Russell Group institution in the current higher education (HE) landscape and – with my medic’s hat on – for my thoughts on the current debate around funding cuts, to the NHS in particular. Again, there were some thought-provoking and challenging questions particularly around the funding of postgraduate (PG) study and the importance of this in promoting social mobility. Both events – together with the plethora of LUU election campaign posters currently around parts of campus – leave me in no doubt that today’s students are keen to engage with the big issues facing HE and beyond.


Send your comments to

Posted in: