Vice-Chancellor's blog: Welcome to 2024 – improving student experience and outcomes

Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Interim Vice-Chancellor and President, looks ahead to the new year, including the National Student Survey.

A message from the interim Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Hai-Sui Yu. November 2023

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to 2024 and a new term. I sincerely hope you all had some time for a peaceful and relaxing break with family, friends and loved ones, and I thank those colleagues who worked during the break to keep our University secure and support students who remained in Leeds.

Time away from work is very important, and I was grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my family and to recharge my batteries (including enjoying reading Simon Armitage’s book – Magnetic Field: The Marsden Poems), while at the same time relishing the prospect of the new year and its fresh opportunities and challenges. 

I am looking forward to resuming our important work to make further progress on my six core priorities, which aim to guide how we work together – aligning with our values and the University’s ten-year strategy, Universal Values, Global Change – to deliver excellence in our student education, research, and external engagement.

For example, we will take more steps to improve staff engagement this term, as highlighted in my last blog, with January seeing the start of a series of staff forums for each faculty and professional service. At these, you will be able to ask questions directly of myself and my UEG colleagues. Do look out for your invitation to these events, which will be issued over the next few weeks. 

But today I would like to highlight activity which forms part of the core priority focus on our students. The beginning of February sees the start of the National Student Survey (NSS), the annual appraisal by final year undergraduates across the UK. This provides valuable information from students about their courses and experiences at Leeds. Later this month we will invite all colleagues to promote the survey to their students to help raise awareness of the NSS, tell them why it is important, and encourage them to participate – so that we can build on areas that work well, and act on the areas that our students tell us need attention.

Promoting the NSS locally is one of the best ways to help students understand the survey and respond with their views – the more students who participate, the better and more useful the data. The University will provide schools and individual staff members with a simple toolkit to support this work, alongside guidance on complying with the NSS’s rightly stringent rules on not inappropriately influencing student responses.

Beyond this essential focus on improving student experience and outcomes, I want us to support our academic schools and the Student Education Service (SES) to provide the best possible support for our students. We are developing a series of actions to deliver across the short-, medium- and long-term to create the optimal balance between central and local delivery.

Turning to political matters and, depending on which political pundit you take notice of, there will be a General Election in the spring, autumn or winter of 2024, so we can expect plenty of scrutiny of the things that matter to us all in higher education as the year progresses. In the meantime, the government last week provided further detail on its proposals to reduce net migration levels, announced before the break. We will continue to scrutinise the detail of the proposed changes with colleagues in the Russell Group and across the sector, and if staff or students have immediate queries you can contact Human Resources or the Student Information Service.  

Finally, it was so pleasing to see Leeds’ academic excellence celebrated in the New Year Honours list. Professors Paul Emery, Mark Wilcox and Peter Giannoudis were recognised for outstanding academic achievements in their respective fields of rheumatology, healthcare during the pandemic, and trauma and orthopaedic surgery. It is always a proud moment to see the achievements of members of our University community celebrated in this way and I offer all three – as well as a number of talented alumni whose achievements were also recognised – my warmest congratulations.

In many respects 2024 has started well for our community at Leeds, and I look forward to continuing to celebrate our individual and institutional achievements as the year progresses, as well as our hard work to deliver excellence in our research, student education and external engagement. 

Best wishes, 


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