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President's Weekly Update

23 February 2017

Our University has recently hosted visits by two ambassadors to the UK at the request of their Embassies. The Ambassador for Poland, Dr Arkady Rzegocki, heard about our very successful ‘Multilingual Manchester’ project, led by Professor Yaron Matras in the School of Arts Languages and Cultures (SALC). I met the Ambassador and his staff with Professor Alessandro Schiesaro, Head of SALC, to discuss partnerships and student exchanges with Poland, then he went on to meet a group of our Polish students.

A few days later, the Ambassador from Israel to the UK, Mark Regev, visited and presented to a group of staff and students. This was followed by questions which were polite and respectful and focussed primarily on Israel and Palestine and on the wider situation across the Middle East. In a private meeting with the Ambassador, he raised concerns about reports of anti-semitism on some British university campuses. I said that we did not tolerate discrimination, abuse or bullying of any sort on campus and pointed out that following our ‘We Get It’ campaign with our Students’ Union, we have launched a new website called ‘Report and Support’ which makes it even easier to report something and get support. It’s available for students, staff and visitors and replaces the existing online form.

I also emphasised to our visitors that the University recognises that freedom of speech and expression within the law has fundamental importance for universities as places of education, learning and the disinterested pursuit of truth, and that the University recognises its responsibilities, so far as is reasonably practicable, to protect and advance the principle of academic freedom.

Professor Clive Agnew, Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students, and I met Naa Acquah, General Secretary of the Students’ Union. We discussed student fees; the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) - we will know the outcome of our submission in May; student safety and the preparation of our response to the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) on our many actions to recruit students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Senior colleagues and I also met with the wider members of the Executive of the Students’ Union. We discussed the regional campaign to reduce anti-biotic resistance; the National Student Survey (NSS); the Living Wage Foundation; fossil fuels; Reclaim the Night and elections for the next Student Executive officers which will take place between 3 and 9 March. Please encourage students to vote.

Professor Ian Greer, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, and I met Sir David Dalton, Chief Executive of Salford Royal National Health Service Trust (SRFT), and Dr Chris Brookes, Medical Director of SRFT. The purpose was to discuss research collaborations with SRFT and the huge opportunities offered by the ‘One Manchester’ (shorthand for Greater Manchester, GM) approach to health services and to research and innovation which has been greatly strengthened by the devolution of the health budget to GM. SRFT is particularly strong in clinical neuroscience, which presents many opportunities.

One of those opportunities is our bid to be a Dementia Research Institute, funded by the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer’s charities. Professor Nigel Hooper, Vice-Dean for Research and Innovation for the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, and I were interviewed in London this week about our proposal.

Iwan Griffiths, Office Senior Partner and North West Regional Chairman for PWC (which provides professional services), and two of his colleagues met with Will Spinks, our Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, and me. I know Iwan well as we are both members of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership. A major topic of discussion was student internships/work experience/graduate employment, but we also discussed further collaboration with the financial services sector which is being led by our Faculty of Humanities.

I spoke at a session of our ‘Headstart’ programme which is aimed at staff who are keen to develop further their leadership capabilities in the University. I talked about my own personal views of leadership and about what I thought was important in leaders, then took many questions on ‘values’, making and defending difficult decisions, time management and prioritisation.

In London, I met Professor Philip Bond, a fellow member of the Council for Science and Technology (CST), who has visited us in Manchester to discuss opportunities for graphene and other new two-dimensional materials, and was pleased that he had even more new ideas for us and is happy to act as an advisor.

Philip and I then attended a CST dinner with Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS, to discuss the government’s green paper on industrial strategy which is currently out for consultation. The discussion included recognising the importance of ‘regional development’, ie outside the South East, particularly noting Manchester as a major area of economic growth and opportunities in science, engineering and across the humanities.


Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor


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