Vice-Chancellor's updates

On these pages you’ll find all the latest correspondence from the Vice-Chancellor, as well as details of his upcoming staff events and you’ll be able to catch-up on the termly Vice-Chancellor’s Forum.

Upcoming staff events

The next Vice-Chancellor's Forum will take place on 15 June, 10:00 - 11:00. Refreshments will be provided in the Bramall foyer afterwards.

Catch-up on the latest Vice-Chancellor's Forum

Please find the questions that were unable to be answered at the last Forum here.

Is there/will there be a simple calculator available to help work out the pay increase we will receive depending on spine point/grade?

There isn’t a calculator but there is detailed guidance available for support staff and academic and professional services staff in roles at grade 6 and above. You’ll need to know your current spinal point to work through the documents; if you don’t know it, you can find your spinal point on Core.

Before the Easter break, we let colleagues know that two of the support staff trade unions (Unison and Unite) had rejected the University’s proposals for the reform of support staff pay. We will communicate next steps via email.

If/when USS benefits are restored to the previous arrangement, will this be backdated to when they were unnecessarily cut?

The changes to the benefits and contribution rates made after the last valuation reflected the economic conditions at time and were at the very margins of acceptability to The Pensions Regulator. The next valuation will be overwhelmingly influenced by high interest rates and the expectation that these will remain high over the next five years. As long as the markets don’t change, the indications are that USS’s financial fortunes will be transformed and it should be possible to improve pension benefits substantially for members and, at the same time, substantially reduce the contributions that both members and employers have to pay. Universities UK, which represents employers, and UCU, which represents all USS members even if they aren’t in the trade union, have issued a joint statement that commits to improving benefits and reducing costs. There are no plans to make retrospective changes.

How are the University addressing the overpopulation of courses and decreasing student satisfaction within said courses? Many students are receiving unsatisfactory placements - with some not even receiving one meaning they will not graduate on time.

Our Strategic Framework sets us an ambitious target of securing a place within the top 20 of the National Student Survey. We are 87th at the moment so there is some way to go – and some subject areas have further to climb than others. Student satisfaction is a key priority for Deborah Longworth, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, and colleagues across our education teams. Our key focus at the moment is to support changes to assessment and feedback, where we know we need to make improvements if we are to increase overall student satisfaction.

If there are particular concerns around the quality and availability of placements, please let your Director of Education, or Deborah, know.

Is the university increasing its duty of care towards international students? Visas are one issue. The other is the hostile environment in this country and the government's rhetoric.

Colleagues across the University provide excellent support to our international student community. The International Students Team ensures we fulfil the duties incumbent on us as a sponsor of students, as set out by the Home Office, including provision of immigration advice and monitoring of attendance. They, alongside other teams, also provide a range of support to welcome international students to campus including airport collections, accommodation support, and inductions that focus on adapting to life in the UK.

Whilst I like and appreciate your regular emails sharing news, praise usually is given to higher graded staff members who are involved in important projects. Could you consider rebalancing your emails so you have an equal mix of news about the work Support Staff are doing, as well as those on Academic grades?

Yes, of course. It’s a real pleasure to be able to share the achievements of colleagues from across our University community. If you know of something interesting that might be highlighted in the ‘View from’, please send me a note:

I wondered if you could share what the ambitions are for The Exchange building for the coming 12 months?

You can find out more about upcoming events at The Exchange on this page. The Public Engagement Team are planning next year’s programme of events at the moment – and we know that a number of their activities will focus on artificial intelligence. In addition to our public programme of events, The Exchange also provides a range of really high-quality spaces that will continue to be of benefit to colleagues across the University. The Exchange is home to a number of teams, including the Birmingham Leadership Institute, and the City Region Economic and Development Institute (City-REDI). UoB Elevate – a programme that supports students and graduates to develop their own businesses – operates from the building, and the Graham Turner Entrepreneurship Centre in The Exchange is now home to 39 businesses. We also host a range of commercial events, from board meetings and conferences to away days and dinners.

You mention that fee income has decreased in real terms over the past few years. Similarly, the money that students receive from the Chamberlain Award and other payments, is also worth less in real terms (has been £2000 for many years). With cost of living rising, is any thought being made to increase these awards to help students in challenging circumstances with the cost of university? Thank you.

While the value of the Chamberlain Award has not increased in recent years, the fund benefits around 5,000 students at a cost of £9M each year. The Chamberlain Award is just one element of a wider package of support that we offer to students who are struggling financially, including the Student Support Fund, the Pathways to Birmingham scheme, and targeted scholarships including our Sanctuary Scholars and Care Leavers packages. This is alongside lots of advice and guidance that aims to help students tackle the high cost of living. We keep our offer under review, though, and the relative value of our awards is something we consider really seriously.

Would you consider having meetings with 10 randomly selected staff members (to gain an understanding of staff wellbeing)?

I hold ‘open sessions’ with staff every couple of months. These provide opportunities for colleagues to meet with me, individually or with another member of staff, to discuss anything that’s on their mind: from something they are passionate about, to things they would like us to start, stop, change, or happen more. We advertise these sessions in our internal communications, and colleagues would be very welcome to book a session with me to discuss staff wellbeing.


Vice-Chancellor's all-staff emails

Here you will find copies of the VC's correspondence to staff from this academic year so far.


Dear colleague,

I hope you had a lovely Easter break. I’m writing my View from message a little earlier than usual this week as I am pleased to be able to let you know that we have now appointed our new PVC and Head of the College of MDS.

Many of you will know that David Adams will retire this summer. David’s decision led us to undertake a rigorous search for our next Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences. We attracted a strong field of candidates from across the sector and, following an extensive selection process, I am delighted to let you know that Council has approved the appointment of Professor Neil Hanley to the role from 1 September 2023.

Neil joins us from the University of Manchester where he is Professor of Medicine and Vice-Dean (Research and Innovation) in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. He is an Honorary Consultant Endocrinologist at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and was Director of Research and Innovation at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust for five years. Neil is widely published in the areas of human development and stem cell biology, and has an impressive track record of facilitating and supporting academic training and development.

I am sure you will join me in welcoming Neil to the University. As David will continue to be Head of College for a while yet, there is still plenty of time to express our enormous gratitude to David, and to celebrate his many contributions to the University.

Best wishes,



Dear colleague,

The reliability of the clock at the top of Old Joe, more properly the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, has become the stuff of legend. Last week, the University’s official Instagram account posted a spoof on it and, looking out of my office window as I’m writing, the clock is running about four hours too fast. I’ll come back to the timepiece, but I’m prompted to reflect more generally about the clock tower.

For those of you who don’t know, Joseph Chamberlain was the University’s founder, building on the predecessor Mason Science College (which was located close to the Exchange in Centenary Square) and the Medical School. Chamberlain was probably the greatest local politician of the nineteenth century – bringing in, often against strong opposition, improvements to water and sewerage; clearing slums; constructing libraries, swimming pools and schools; and opening public parks. Although he started as a Liberal, as an MP he left government in opposition to Irish Home Rule, was fiercely hostile to the emergence of the Labour Party and although he strongly opposed imperialism in his youth, as Colonial Secretary (at the time the University was founded) he strongly embraced Imperial Federation. He was also the father of Neville Chamberlain.

Old Joe is probably the most recognisable symbol of our university. It is visible from across the city; it’s an easy topic of conversation with alumni around the world; it was arguably one of the inspirations for the Tower of Orthanc in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings; and it is – as we rarely miss a chance to talk about – the largest free-standing clock tower in the world. Old Joe, like the rest of the Aston Webb complex, was modelled on Siena during the Italian renaissance and was surely meant to symbolise both continuity with that moment in western European culture and the industrial and intellectual prominence of Birmingham during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is said that the reason that the Aston Webb building only got completed within the last two decades with the construction of the Bramall wing was because, when the University started running out of money, Chamberlain believed that funds would never be found for a clock tower but they would surely be found to finish the functional building.

Anyway, back to the clock. A year ago, the University commissioned a major refurbishment of the clock faces – which were deteriorating badly – and many people assumed that this would have sorted out the clock itself. Unfortunately, as the mechanism is separate, this needs to be done independently and we rely on one – very stretched – contractor to support us. As the internal lift within the tower has only just been mended, no-one has been able to access the clock but work can start shortly to repair the pulley and cables. It is anyone’s guess as to whether this will resolve the tendency to gain time because – after over a century – the pendulum has got stretched and that may, ultimately, need some work.

I spent time yesterday morning meeting a range of staff from Campus Services. I met staff in the post room, porters, the car parking team, transport services, staff in Venues and Events and had a trip to the Oaks Nursery in Selly Oak. The range of support that is provided by all of these people is extraordinary, often taken for granted and, without doubt, essential to the life of the University. During the pandemic, most people continued on site to ensure that essential services could continue. During ‘normal’ times, our post (which can occasionally include strange objects) arrives and is despatched, objects almost effortlessly move around the campus, our car parks remain (largely) available because people without permits are kept away, and our fleet of over 100 vehicles runs effectively and efficiently (and the team that manage this are running out of display spaces for their national awards). The Venues and Events team not only generate income which we use to support the educational and research mission of the University, they provide an exceptionally high quality service to external and internal customers alike. Anyone who is running an academic conference should talk with them: they can do everything for you, including setting up websites and poster boards if you need that kind of support. With apologies to everyone else, though, the highlight was seeing the children and babies at the Oaks Nursery in Selly Oak playing inside and outside – I was expecting to hear tears but just saw joy. Thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome.

I went straight from Campus Services to meet staff in the Professional Services Early Career Network for a question and answer session. Although it was brief, I felt like I’d been put through my paces by a group of staff who are bright, enthusiastic and engaged and who have an external set of eyes on how we can be better. If you aren’t aware of them, and you are in the early stages of your career in Professional Services, do visit their Teams site.

We also were pleased to welcome George Freeman, Minister for Science, to the campus yesterday. I spent about 45 minutes talking with him about science policy, regional policy, the future of UK in Horizon and how the government is likely to respond to the reports by David Grant into UKRI, Paul Nurse into the research landscape, and me into research bureaucracy. After this, George went on to visit the National Buried Infrastructure Facility and although I wasn’t with him, I know that he was very impressed by both the facilities and his hosts.

As next Friday is a bank holiday, and I’ll be on leave in Scotland the following week, there’ll be a bit of a break from me. I hope that you have a lovely holiday, whether you’re taking it at home or going away.

With best wishes,



Dear colleague,

Each Tuesday, the members of UEB, heads of schools and college office holders, Professional Services directors, deputy PVCs and holders of other senior roles meet for an hour to discuss University news and sector developments. This week, we welcomed Colin Townsend, Principal of the University of Birmingham School, to give an update on the School’s remarkable achievements since it opened. The School is in its eighth year, and has become one of the most popular in Birmingham and a real asset to our city. The University of Birmingham School is like no other university affiliated school in the UK. Although, like the others, we are committed to excellent outcomes, its very design has baked-in a commitment to fairness and equity. The School admits students in Year 7 from three catchment areas – one of which is local to Selly Park and the other two are in less privileged parts of Birmingham. The School has a significantly higher proportion of students who are eligible for free school meals and the pupil premium than the national or local average and similarly high proportions of students who have been in care or who have special educational needs. Despite this, the School achieves exceptional educational and social outcomes through providing a genuinely comprehensive education (other than students with very particular needs, all classes are taught in mixed ability groups); by providing an extraordinary range of extra-curricular activities such as outward bound programmes, musical opportunities, and international study trips; and a commendable and much copied approach to education which focuses on the character of the whole person rather than just on learning.

Colin Townsend is an exceptional leader and we are lucky to have him – and he is the first to say that the University of Birmingham School owes much to its strong relationship with the University and, particularly, our School of Education. The School is also committed to ensuring that the quality of work experience for Year 10 pupils is not dependent on who their parents might know and the University will once again be working with them to provide opportunities this year. We will shortly issue a call for placements and I’d urge you to take part: in the past, we’ve offered placements in catering outlets, laboratories and offices – but there are no areas where we couldn’t have a pupil. The students love it and they are mutually rewarding experiences.

In my last message, I wrote about league tables and said that we might be simultaneously sceptical about them and recognise their real importance. One of the main league table providers published their ‘subject tables’ on Wednesday and there was very positive news for Birmingham. In the “QS World University Rankings” all five broad subject areas saw significant movement, with Life Sciences and Medicine moving up 30 places to joint 62nd, just ahead of Arts and Humanities at 65th. Seven subjects (Sport, Dentistry, English, Theology, Anatomy and Physiology, Linguistics, and Social Policy) are all now in the top 50 and over half of our subjects are in the top 100. The most significant gains are in Pharmacy, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, and Computer Science. As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t worry too much about small ups and downs but this is more evidence that Birmingham is a great university. Whatever your job, you contribute to our success: President John F Kennedy famously asked a cleaner for NASA what he did and got, in reply, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon’.

The fact that Pharmacy is ranked in the top 100 pharmacy schools in the world is remarkable, given that it has only been open for around a decade. Coincidentally, I visited the School yesterday and was really impressed by the quality of teaching, commitment of staff and by the research that I saw. Our programme has rapidly established itself as one of the best in the UK: reassuringly, Pharmacy is regulated (none of us would like to be prescribed medicines by underqualified people) and pharmacists have to pass national examinations. Our graduates are in the top tier and are hugely attractive prospects to employers. All of this has been achieved from a relatively small staffing base, but the success of the School means that they are currently significantly expanding their academic staff at the moment.

Last week, I held a staff lunch, which I try to do every couple of months. These provide opportunities for colleagues from across the University to tell me about their experiences of working here, and what we might start, stop, change or do more of. Often, colleagues tell me about some of the excellent work underway in their areas, and it was in this vein that I learnt more about ‘Recognise and Refer’ sessions delivered by the Student Wellbeing team. Recognise and Refer is a short training session to equip any member of staff with an understanding and overview of student wellbeing at the University of Birmingham. Students who are feeling vulnerable, or who are in crisis, will often turn to a staff member and the session helps you to understand how you can support someone and how to help them access the best possible assistance available. If you can spare an hour, and almost all of us can, take a look at the Recognise and Refer page.

Nominations are open for this year’s Founders’ Awards, which recognise outstanding achievements among our academic colleagues. You can find out more details about the awards, and how to nominate a colleague or team, on the Founders’ Awards intranet page.

Finally, as many of you know, the Muslim month of Ramadan started on Thursday. Muslims view this month of fasting as a time to connect with the spiritual, and to remember and empathise with those who are less fortunate. It is also a time to connect with family and friends, and so to mark Ramadan, our Islamic Society is providing free daily iftar meal in the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy to members of our University community. I wish you all Ramadan Mubarak.

Have a great weekend,



Dear colleague

I’m sorry that last week’s message is only with you today. I had an unexpectedly busy Thursday afternoon, was out that evening and had a fully packed diary on Friday.

As you might remember, the University’s Strategic Framework set an ambitious target for Birmingham to be recognised as one of the world’s leading universities by the end of this decade. This will be hugely challenging: the UK invests significantly less in research than many other countries do (mainly because the private sector invests less); every other good university is trying to achieve something similar; and – in terms of the underlying data – the gap between the 50th best university and the 100th best is much wider than the gap between the 100th and the 150th. I know that there is also scepticism about measuring ourselves by reference to league tables at all – and for good reasons: league tables bounce around, can only be poor proxies for quality, and can lead to perverse behaviours.

All of this said, league tables do matter: they affect our ability to attract people to come to work and study with us; some governments will only fund studentships at highly ranked universities; and they can also affect funding decisions in subtle ways. However, rather than worry too much about specific numbers, the University’s aspirations should be understood as an ambition for us to be the best we can be – to be an intellectually engaging and vibrant community.

It was in this context that Hugh Adlington, interim PVC Research, convened a session at Senate which summarised the work that he has been leading to build on the University’s strong performance in the REF last year and engaged members of Senate in developing our approach to research themes and enhancing our research quality even further. The session involved members of Senate in table discussions and will feed directly into our emerging plans.

Senate also formally approved proposals from the University Education Committee for some adjustments to the structure of the academic teaching and assessment calendar for the coming year. These adjustments have the full support of the Guild of Students but remain subject to the formal approval of our governing body. Communication and consultation with staff and students will take place over the coming weeks. The adjustments would return the Christmas and Easter student vacations to four weeks, reduce assessment pressure in January, and move the current UoB Festival and skills development programme to the summer term after the end of formal examinations.

Wednesday was, of course, also Budget Day and we were delighted that the Chancellor formally announced nearly £15m of support for research here at the University and accounted for half of the available funding under the Government’s pilot for ‘Innovation Accelerators’ in the West Midlands. The project will unite key stakeholders (universities, hospitals, industry and government-funded ‘Catapults’ for manufacturing innovation) to accelerate new health and medical technologies, delivering a streamlined programme to help companies navigate “pinch-points” in the process of medical translation. The expectation is that the Government’s funding will serve to attract substantial additional investment from elsewhere and help to create a thriving health technologies ecosystem in Birmingham and the wider region. The Budget also saw an announcement that the West Midlands and Greater Manchester will receive enhanced ‘trailblazer’ devolution deals, which will give the Mayor and the Combined Authority substantially greater powers covering transport, employment, housing, innovation and Net Zero.

Finally, I note that UCU members have not been given an opportunity to vote on offers from UCEA and UUK to resolve the industrial dispute. Although nearly two thirds of union members who responded to a poll said they did want a vote, the decision of the union’s Higher Education Committee means that industrial action will continue to adversely impact on our students, our staff and the University. I continue to hope that we can find a resolution but I am not sure what happens next.

With best wishes,



Dear colleague

I love snow. I love the brightness, the way that it blankets everything and the visceral feel of the cold. When I’m out walking in hills, I have to remind myself of its dangers rather than pushing myself further as snow comes down (and when I was a teenager me and a friend did come stupidly close to getting permanently lost in Dorset on holiday during a blizzard). But, despite this, I’m aware of the disruption and difficulties that snow brings, and that snow in March is unwelcome to many. Although yesterday’s snowfall prevented quite a lot of people from getting to work, those of us who made it in are incredibly grateful to the grounds team for working around the clock for keeping our campus open and safe.

Typically, I either host or attend work-related dinners three times a week. These are almost always really good opportunities to meet people over food; to promote the University, sector or city and region; to mark important occasions in the life of the University; or to catch up on things that I can’t manage during the working day. On Tuesday, I joined, for the first time, the ‘Defence Studies Dining Club’ at the University’s hotel. This group meets two or three times every year and invites a prestigious speaker with either a military background or other expertise in the broad area of defence. On Tuesday, around 250 people, including friends, staff and students of the University, came to hear Major General Kevin Copsey reflect on his career in the army. Major General Copsey left school without A levels and rose to one of the highest ranks in the armed forces and spoke with compassion about leadership – stressing that the best leaders listen and learn – and humanitarian missions that he had been on, including in Kosovo and Sierra Leone.

The University has long had a tradition of inviting newly appointed or promoted professors to dinner with the Vice Chancellor but, like so much else, this stopped during the pandemic. On Wednesday evening, over one hundred professors joined me, and other members of UEB, for a dinner which celebrated their achievements. Becoming a professor is a mark of real distinction, recognising the contribution that someone makes to their discipline through exceptional research, education, and/ or engagement in a variety of ways. It is also a responsibility: professors are also leaders in large and small ways, supporting and encouraging each other and, crucially, people at an earlier stage of their careers. One of the things that we should be proud of is that every promoted professor at Birmingham has to demonstrate that they contribute to the common good, rather than simply pursuing their narrow self-interests. It is possible that some recent professors did not receive an invitation: if this applies to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch - we will invite you to a subsequent event.

Our commitment to service was underlined on Wednesday afternoon at a conference to mark International Women’s Day. This demonstrated the important contribution that the Women’s Network makes to our EDI work. The programme included practical sessions on career development and a discussion on Family Friendly policies led by Susan Squires from HR. In the final panel discussion, celebrating “The Women Behind Women’s Research”, Parbir Jagpal, Thais Rocha, Holly Birkett and Sarah Rockowitz talked about how their research supports women’s health and gender equity both in the UK and internationally. Their reflections on their research and their outreach and engagement work provided a fitting end to an inspiring afternoon. I’m really grateful to Sheena Lucas and the committee of the Women’s Network for their work on this.

Earlier this week, our Dubai campus hosted a prestigious workshop on maternal health that brought together experts who treat and manage postpartum haemorrhage. The event was arranged as a consequence of ground-breaking research underway in Edgbaston, and our ability to host the workshop in Dubai - a convenient location for partners from around the world to convene - provided a model for how we can use our campuses to really good effect. My thanks to Arri Coomarasamy and Adam Devall for leading the event and to everyone else who was involved in making it a success.

Nominations have opened for the Birmingham Professional Awards. These awards – now in their second year – celebrate the achievements of Professional Services staff and are a great way to thank individuals and teams for their contributions to our university. If you have been impressed by a member of PS staff, please consider nominating them. Shortlisted nominees will be invited to an awards ceremony in July; I attended last year’s event, and it was a lovely showcase of really excellent work.

I’ve mentioned before that I originally hoped to visit all of the schools and professional service divisions in my first three months at Birmingham – and how I’d forgotten how large and complex our university is. I’m nearly there and we hope to start arranging return visits fairly soon, but this week I visited Maths, the Business School, and Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. I always enjoy the welcome, learning about this extraordinarily vibrant and diverse institution and receiving sometimes challenging questions. I wouldn’t want to pretend that everything is perfect, but in comparison with so many other places (both other universities and elsewhere in the UK), there is a degree of optimism and possibility. Birmingham really is a special place to work and collectively we can continue to build upon this.

Have a lovely weekend,



Dear colleague

I was privileged to join a meeting of ‘Better Than Well’ (BTW) on Friday evening.  BTW is the University’s support programme for students who are recovering from addiction to drugs, alcohol or behaviours which can be self-destructive.  BTW was launched just under two years ago by Dr Ed Day, an associate professor in Psychology and practicing clinical psychiatrist, and the initiative provides peer support for students during structured and supportive sessions and individual support from both Ed and from Luke Trainor, BTW’s Programme Manager.  I was genuinely humbled to hear students openly and honestly talk about the challenges that they faced and their roads to recovery.  Every one of them was treated with deep respect by everyone in the room and they all talked about how important BTW has been to them.  Birmingham was the first UK university to adopt this model – but it isn’t a competition and Ed and Luke are supporting other universities to set up similar programmes.  The support that BTW can provide is for anyone with addictive behaviours and if you know students who could benefit from support, please do encourage them to make contact with Ed or Luke. Details are at Better Than Well - Addiction Recovery Program - University of BirminghamYou can also hear Luke and one of our students talk about BTW on last week’s episode of BBC Radio 4’s excellent series, Is Psychiatry Working?.

On Monday, the University welcomed a very senior delegation from Rwanda as part of the collaboration that we have with Rwandan institutions, and supported by funding from the governments of both the UK and Rwanda, to develop sustainable cold supply chains.  As we start to emerge from a cold and gloomy winter, it’s easy for us not to realise that the challenge facing many countries in the world is that of heat.  Billions of tons of food rot in high temperatures before they can reach markets, and vaccines need low temperatures to stop them degrading.  Since the 1930s, when commercial air conditioning started to take off in the United States, both supply chains and ambient temperatures have been cooled using highly energy intensive solutions – and this, of course, is exacerbating the very problem it is trying to address.  Our collaborations in Rwanda, led by Toby Peters in the School of Chemical Engineering, are working to provide low carbon methods of keeping things cool and involves genuine collaboration with local partners.  Rwanda hopes to develop a thriving ecosystem of businesses, people, and technologies that they can share across Africa, and the start of this is a five hectare campus in Kigali.  Although I only spent half an hour with the visiting team, their collective enthusiasm for our work together, and the sense of possibility that practical interventions can be transformative, was palpable.

As many will know, the School of Mathematics has, for several years now, been working with colleagues in Jinan University to deliver degrees to students in Guangzhou, China. This has proven to be a really successful arrangement, and we now teach to a population of over 1000 students. Colleagues in MDS have been working to develop a similar model with the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan. Together, we have created a dual degree programme through which students in Wuhan will study for both a BSc in Biomedical Sciences, delivered by colleagues from MDS, and an undergraduate programme in Pharmacy, delivered by HUST. On Wednesday, I joined colleagues from MDS and HUST in a virtual ceremony to sign the underpinning agreement that will allow us to take the first steps towards enrolling students in 2024. Students – eventually numbering up to 120 each year – and University staff will be based at a new international campus at HUST and will rub shoulders with peers from other global universities. This will create new and exciting opportunities for enrichment and collaboration.

But, for me, the best news of the week is that the EU has signalled that if, as seems likely, the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol is resolved, the UK will be able to rejoin the Horizon Research Programme.  Whatever your views on Brexit, losing access to Horizon has been really bad for science and scholarship in both the UK and in the EU.  Research in the UK is genuinely the best in Europe and amongst the best in the world and collaborations with partners across the continent enhance the quality of work for all concerned.  There’s a way to go still but we should all feel optimistic that ties which have weakened can start to strengthen again.

Have a lovely weekend,