VC Open Forum



The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, holds a termly open forum which gives staff the opportunity to hear directly from the VC on a range of topics. The style and content of each VC Open Forum (VCOF) often varies from event to event but there is usually an opportunity to ask questions or give feedback.

Upcoming dates  

Friday 12 February 2021


Previous VC Open Forums

In October 2020, the Academic Registrar, Dr Emma Robinson again interviewed the Vice-Chancellor, this time socially distanced in the University's Senate Chamber, to ask about reopening campus and responding to the challenges posed by coronavirus.

In June 2020, the Academic Registrar, Dr Emma Robinson interviewed the Vice-Chancellor on Zoom during the coronavirus crisis that has brought unprecedented global disruption, affecting the daily lives of each and every one of us.

In February 2020, HEPi's Director,  Nick Hillman interviewed the Vice-Chancellor on the key issues facing the Higher Education sector and the University of Birmingham.

In October 2019, the Vice-Chancellor outlined the acheivements of the past year, including the University’s research income reaching record levels, the Green Heart and Collaborative Teaching Laboratory both formally opening, new international partnerships forged that have furthered our reach around the world and our first group of students graduating in Dubai. 

In February 2019, Wonkhe's Editor, Debbie McVitty interviewed the Vice-Chancellor on Brexit and the impact of no-deal and UK policy developments including the Augar Review.

In October 2018 Brexit was dominating and the Augar Review of post-18 education funding was on its way. The Vice-Chancellor offered his personal take on the challenges and opportunities that they present for Birmingham.

In February 2018 Mark Leach returned to campus for the second instalment of his interviews with the Vice-Chancellor. The Forum explored the significant developments that took place in the higher education sector during 2017 and the key issues facing the University of Birmingham going forward, including:


  • Internationalisation in the sector
  • UK policy developments in higher education (HE): the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Office for Students (OfS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • The changing research landscape - the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

In October 2017, universities had been in the political spotlight in recent months. The Vice-Chancellor offered his personal insight on the politics and policy of the sector, as well as introducing Birmingham 2026 – the next stage of our strategic thinking. 

In February 2017, the Vice-Chancellor was interviewed by Mark Leach, founder, Editor in Chief and Director of Wonkhe.The Forum provided staff the opportunity to hear about key developments in the sector and for the University, covering:

  • The latest developments regarding Brexit and their consequences for HE
  • The Higher Education and Research Bill & Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the impact this will have on the sector
  • The University’s role in driving the regional agenda and in supporting the Government’s Industrial Strategy

In October 2016, the Vice-Chancellor delivered his first staff address of the new academic year. The Vice-Chancellor offered a personal insight into the politics and policy of the sector, covering topics such as the new Teaching Excellence Framework, the review of the REF, and the creation of the Office for Students and UK Research and Innovation. Sir David also provided an update on the latest information in relation to the UK’s exit from the EU, as well as his reflections on recent University highlights and priorities for the coming year.

In July 2016, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU, many colleagues had questions about the implications of the referendum for them and their research. This specially-arranged Open Forum provided an opportunity to hear from the Vice-Chancellor on how the University and the wider higher education sector are responding. The majority of the session was given over to Q&A, covering topics such as:

  • Research funding and collaboration
  • Staff and student mobility
  • The wider implications for the UK’s higher education sector

In February 2016, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, was interviewed by Stephen Khan, Editor of The Conversation UK, on key issues facing the Higher Education sector and the University. The interview covered a wide range of topics including:

  • The Higher Education Green Paper
  • The Nurse review and research income
  • The implications of the Teaching Excellence Framework
  • International challenges and opportunities

In October 2015, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, launched the University’s Strategic Framework 2015-2020: Making Important Things Happen. The Strategic Framework defines the University’s vision as a global and civic institution, acting as a point of reference to guide decision-making during the next five years.

In February 2015, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, was interviewed by the BBC’s award-winning Education Correspondent Sean Coughlan, on key issues facing the Higher Education sector and the University. 

At the Open Forum in October 2014 the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, looked back at our progress over the last five years and launched the consultation process for the new Strategic Framework. 

Feedback and thoughts on the Strategic Framework 2015-20 can be sent to


Questions for future events can be submitted to or via @buzzunibham.

Have a question about the VCOF? Take a look below to see if we have answered it already or contact us.

Frequently asked questions

Who should I contact about the VCOF?

The VCOF is organised by the Internal Communications Officer, and the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. Email for more information or advice on any aspect of the VCOF. We want your feedback and ideas about the event, so please get in touch.

How do you decide the VCOF topics?

The team work with the VC to deliver a forum that includes topics suggested by the VC and the staff community. These may be driven by changes in Higher Education (HE), new strategic University initiatives, new policies, the University’s profile and reputation, and much more. If you have ideas get in touch!

Who can attend the VCOF?

This event is for all staff. You may be a member of academic staff or professional services. You may be an administrator or work in a technical or manual role. You may be a researcher; you may be involved in teaching, or both! All members of staff are welcome and if you are driving the topics for discussion it will be relevant to you.

How do I ask a question at VCOF?

Your email invitation to the VCOF will give details of submitting questions but you can usually decide to submit in advance or ask a question on the day. Look out for your email invite for more information.  You can choose to remain anonymous: just let us know when you contact us.

Why do you ask us to submit in advance?

Some members of staff may feel uncomfortable asking a question during the event so we always offer the opportunity to pre-submit questions or topics. It is not about ‘scripting’ the event.

How do I know when the next VCOF will take place?

All staff at the University will receive an email invitation to the VCOF. We also publicise the events in Buzz magazine and Buzz Bitesize and you can check this page which will be updated with all VCOF dates.

Why am I not receiving email invitations to the VCOF?

If you do not receive VCOF invitations it may mean you are not on the all-staff email distribution list. Unfortunately we cannot add you to this list therefore you need to contact the IT Service Desk to help you with this.



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