From the Vice-Chancellor – June 2022
In my June newsletter: the Complete University Guide, Pride Month, a new partnership with FIFA, a new innovation district on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the students’ Degree Show and how to get involved in Give ‘n’ Go.
Complete University Guide 2023
The Complete University Guide 2023, the first in the cycle of national university league tables, was published this month and I was delighted to see that Loughborough was ranked seventh out of 130 UK universities. This is the seventh consecutive year that we have been placed in the top ten of this table.
We should not underestimate the importance of our continued success in these rankings. It underlines to prospective students that we are one of the very best universities in the country and that we can offer them the environment, experiences and opportunities that will enable them to thrive.
Our success in the league tables is down to the hard work of staff right across the University and the Students’ Union, particularly so over the last twelve months which have been so challenging for us all. Thank you for everything you do.
We cannot afford to be complacent, however. As outlined in our new strategy, we must carry on strengthening our position within the sector for education and student experience if we are to continue attracting the very best students from both the UK and overseas.
Throughout June, we have celebrated Pride Month to recognise the incredible impact and influence that LGBT+ people have around the world and within our own university. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the discrimination that many still face because of their gender and sexuality, and to consider what more we can do to make our campuses and wider society more inclusive.
As part of the celebrations, on 23 June the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network and the Students’ Union’s LGBT+ Association held the Campus Pride March. I was delighted to welcome so many people there, to hear words of reflection from Chris McLeod and Issie Bickerstaff, the respective Chairs of the staff and student networks, before walking across campus and taking a group photo in front of the inclusivity mural.
There was also a special Pride-focused episode of our Let’s Talk Loughborough podcast series, featuring Chris and Issie from the staff and student networks. They reflect on the people that have inspired them, what the networks do, and the progress – and what still needs to be done – to make Loughborough more inclusive.
Let’s Talk Loughborough is aimed at both staff and students; if you haven’t given it a listen yet, then I’d really recommend you do. It’s available on our University Media Centre and also on YouTube.
FIFA pitch testing partnership
I was delighted to see the announcement this month that Loughborough’s Sports Technology Institute has been selected as a key partner on a project in collaboration with the international governing body FIFA to develop and improve testing methods for artificial sports pitches.
FIFA had put out a call for proposals to develop the next generation of mechanical test devices to assess the player-surface interaction on artificial turfed football pitches. Testing is carried out for a range of reasons, for example it’s done to provide more detailed characteristics about how the field is expected to play, which links to the performance and potential injury of athletes.
Current test devices have been used for many years and aren’t necessarily devised to assess artificial pitches. The team’s goal for the project, and that of FIFA, is to improve artificial turf surfaces, and support the performance of footballers worldwide.
Research projects such as this meet several aims of our new University strategy: they allow us to capitalise on our reputation as the world’s leading university for sport in order to forge new partnerships, and they enable us to demonstrate the impact of our work on a global stage.
This summer marks the ten-year anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were largely centred on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Over the last decade the Park has established a strong start-up and entrepreneurial scene. It is also fast becoming a major cultural centre, soon to be home to V&A East, Sadler’s Wells East, and the BBC’s new music studios.
The Loughborough University London campus, which is based on the Park, was founded with innovation and entrepreneurship at its heart and so it is fitting that we are one of the first core partners in SHIFT, a new inclusive innovation district on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which was formally launched on 17 June.
SHIFT will be London’s living testbed for creating better urban futures. Building on the partners’ success over the last ten years, SHIFT will bring together business leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers and the local community to use the Park to trial new technologies that will build better, healthier and more sustainable places for the future and improve the quality of living for city residents.
On both our London and our East Midlands campuses we bring together influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as social inclusion, sport’s impact on health and wellbeing, and climate change. Being able to use the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a living testbed for our cutting-edge research and innovation, working together with our partner organisations, will enable us to create better futures for everyone.
Students’ Degree Show
This month I visited the students’ Degree Show, which showcases the work of our finalists in the School of Design and Creative Arts. The annual event celebrates innovation and creative talent, and provides a crucial opportunity for students to share their projects with both the public and industry, helping to raise their profile with potential employers prior to starting their careers.
The Degree Show covered a variety of genres, including Fine Art, Textile Design, Architecture, Product Design, and Drama, with the students performing an adaption of ‘The End of Men’ by Christina Sweeney-Baird, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The students’ work was truly exceptional, showing an amazing breadth of innovation, creativity and talent. I very much hope you were able to go along to see what undoubtedly are some of the stars of the future.
Support Give ‘n’ Go
As the academic year draws to a close, many of our students are moving out of their accommodation and wondering what to do with the many things they’ve accumulated over the course of the year. This year, our Sustainability team has joined forces with six charities and not-for-profit organisations, including Better World Books and Shepshed Food Bank, to run its annual Give ‘n’ Go scheme, which allows students to give their unwanted belongings a new lease of life.
The initiative, which runs until 15 July, aims to repurpose and recycle as many items as possible that would otherwise end up in general waste and landfill. Last year, among the goods donated were more than 280 bags of clothes, shoes and accessories, 50 duvets and 60 crates of food.
Opinions and comment from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings