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Look back, leap forward

The University of Bath is busy making plans to both celebrate its many past successes, and look forward to an ambitious future

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | March 03, 2015 | Estates

Investing on and off campus

The University continues to invest in its future both in terms of staff and infrastructure. Its Claverton Down campus is continually evolving thanks to a multi-million pound investment programme. This has already resulted in new state-of-the-art teaching spaces and student accommodation but has now been added to by the recent opening of The Edge. 

The Edge will be the base on campus for a programme of activity which encourages, and supports, participation and achievement in the creative arts. It will also house a new Executive Education suite from which the School of Management will offer business partners an innovative series of courses, events and seminars.

With plans to host a vibrant programme of visual arts, theatre, dance and music, the venue will offer exciting facilities for students, staff and the local community alike, whilst helping to establish Bath as a national hub for the arts.

At the time of writing, two new academic buildings are also moving into the construction phase – one for the Department of Psychology and Institute for Policy Research, and the second for the Faculty of Engineering & Design. Both are scheduled for completion in 2016.

Away from campus, the development of a new ‘HIVE’ facility at the Building Research Park in Wroughton near Swindon, represents an innovative alternative to traditional lab-based research. The £1 million HIVE is now enabling Bath researchers and colleagues from around the globe to test the energy efficiency, flood resilience and structural capability of future low-impact construction materials in groundbreaking open-air research facilities.

Worldwide networks

Excellence in higher education is increasingly defined by international reputation and Bath has been recognised by the Times Higher Education as one of the most international universities in the world. It continues to strive to improve its position, attracting the best staff and students from around the world, placing research and teaching in an international context, and forming strategic alliances with leading international partners.

Bath has forged a number of new partnerships with universities in the top 100 world rankings, and these will enable collaborative research across every discipline. In addition to pre-existing partnerships with institutions in Europe, Asia, North and South America and Africa. It is currently establishing links in Brazil with the National Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA) and the Getúlio Vargas Foundation both in Rio. In the Middle East it is developing a partnership with the leading Turkish research institution, Koç University and exploring links with Kadir Has University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara.

Bath has students from 126 different nationalities studying there, with its teaching and research boosted by regular visiting academics and students from partner institutions. Between 2011–14 the number of Bath students travelling overseas on work or study placements increased by 25%.

Research, reputation and recognition

The University of Bath’s reputation has gone from strength to strength over recent years as it pursues a mission to benefit the wider population through the delivery of world-class research, and through the delivery of teaching excellence informed by that research.

Bath’s interdisciplinary approach, boosted by strong international partnerships, industry connections and investments on campus, is helping to shape policy, deliver healthcare, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, provide practical low-carbon solutions to our energy needs, and develop the materials for the future.

The announcement of the results from REF2014 in December placed the University 14th in the Times Higher Education’s research quality ranking of UK universities, with the awarding panel judging 87% of its research submitted to be of world-leading/internationally excellent standard. This is a significant achievement and a substantial rise from its position following the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). 

With a research portfolio now at £122 million, Bath has achieved significant successes in doctoral training bids, leading to the establishment of local led centres, as well as collaborations with local GW4 partners (Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter) and other partner institutions. Most recently, and in response to industry need, Bath secured funding to establish a new Centre for Doctoral Training, ‘Statistical Applied Mathematics at Bath’ (SAMBa), which will help create the next generation of interdisciplinary mathematician.

Bath’s world-leading research informs its learning and teaching and equips graduates with the latest thinking in their fields. An excellent example of this is the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) where researchers are using their work converting waste coffee grounds to biodiesel which could power a car, as part of their teaching. In a process which researchers first trialled with students, oil is extracted from waste coffee grounds before being chemically transformed into biodiesel. When news of the team’s research broke in June, the story attracted worldwide media attention. This work, which has formed part of a PhD project, has also been widely used in outreach activities for the CSCT.

This growing reputation for excellence in research has been matched by an award-winning reputation for providing a first-class learning and teaching environment. Last year the National Student Survey (NSS) 2014 revealed that students at Bath are the most satisfied in the UK. The overall satisfaction rate for University of Bath students is 93% – seven points above the national average of 86%. That means Bath tops the national table of over 150 universities (excluding small and specialist higher education institutions) for the second year in a row – a matter of enormous pride for the whole University community.

Entrepreneurial advantage

Across the University, Bath encourages creativity and entrepreneurship both among students and as a direct result of its research. The University’s Innovation Centre helps entrepreneurs whose ideas initiated there by giving them the inspiration, work space and support to become high growth companies. Over the past year alone, it has helped budding entrepreneurs raise over £12.5 million in investments. The Centre is part of ‘SETsquared’, a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, and was this year ranked as the top university business incubator in Europe. 

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