From the Vice-Chancellor – October 2022
In my October newsletter: a new education partnership, reflections on Black History Month, the outcomes of the Knowledge Exchange Framework, funding from the Loughborough Town Deal, and strategy roadshow events.
New international engagement partnership
In my July newsletter, I spoke about the International Engagement and Impact plan, the first of the six core plans that will underpin the delivery of our University strategy. The plan outlines how we will intensify and extend all aspects of our international activity, including the changes we need to make to our educational offering to make it as attractive as possible for international students.
To this end, I’m delighted to announce that we will form a new partnership with Cambridge Education Group. Cambridge Education Group delivers high quality academic programmes that are the stepping-stone for international students to progress onto courses at the world’s leading universities.
As part of our partnership, Cambridge Education Group will have a dedicated Centre on our East Midlands campus. The first cohort of students will begin programmes in Loughborough from September 2023 and, on successful completion, have the opportunity to join a Loughborough degree programme the following academic year.
Our partnership with Cambridge Education Group will enable us to welcome more international students to our campus, and from a greater range of countries. This will make our community more internationally diverse, meaning that we can offer a more culturally enriching experience for everyone here. We will be able to expand our overseas networks, which in turn will enable us to offer a greater range of overseas opportunities for our students and graduates.
It’s a very exciting development and I will keep you informed of the key milestones as we progress our partnership with Cambridge Education Group.
Black History Month
October is Black History Month and once again our staff and students, supported by our alumni and external partners, hosted some truly inspirational events.
These activities align closely with our strategic theme of ‘Vibrant and Inclusive Communities’ and our aim to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
Most of the events, as well as reading lists, news and a special edition of the Let’s Talk Loughborough podcast, were drawn together on our Black History Month microsite. I hope you’ve all been able to get involved in some way during the month.
I know many of you around the University have been actively involved in Black History Month in some way, by helping to run or attending an event, acting as an ally or commentator, or simply ensuring our campus was a welcoming place for everyone. Thank you for everything you have done. However, we need to maintain the momentum throughout the year. Black History Month helps us to shine a spotlight on race, ethnicity and our aim to be an anti-racist organisation, but that does not end on 31st October.
To this end, Professor Charlotte Croffie, our first Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will soon start work on the implementation of the EDI core plan for our new strategy. Please engage with this activity as EDI is everybody’s responsibility.
The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)
At the end of September, we received the results of the second Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). ‘Knowledge Exchange’ refers to the activities that universities undertake with external partners to ensure that our research and innovation can be used for the benefit of society and the economy. Partners can range from members of the public who attend university events to multinational companies who work with us to develop new systems and processes that will enhance their business.
For the KEF, universities are grouped into ‘clusters’ of peers – institutions with similar characteristics such as how much research they do and in what subject areas. Loughborough was grouped into the cluster described as “large, high research intensive and broad-discipline universities undertaking a significant amount of excellent research.”
The data from the 2022 KEF shows Loughborough is in the highest quintile – quintile 5, classed as “very high engagement” – for Intellectual Property (IP) and Commercialisation, and Working with Business.
Examples of success in these areas are our partnership with Rolls Royce which has led to the creation of the National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology, and the achievements of Previsico, a University spin-out, launched in 2019, which provides surface water flood forecasting enabling people and organisations to minimise the impact of flooding.
Loughborough also performed strongly in Local Growth and Regeneration and Working with the Public and Third Sector, placing in quintile 4 (“high engagement”) for both areas.
Our good performance in all these areas is due to the hard work of our staff, students and the external groups, organisations and business we work with.
There are, however, areas of the KEF where we can improve. Our engagement level for Public and Community Engagement, for example, was lower than the average for our university cluster. Our recent exhibitions at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition and the British Science Festival are good examples of the activity we must undertake as part of a sustained public and community engagement programme.
Loughborough Town Deal
In 2021 Loughborough town received £17 million of funding under the Government’s Town Deal scheme, to enable it to support initiatives that regenerate the town centre, boost businesses and improve infrastructure and connectivity.
As part of this package, Loughborough Town Deal has now awarded us a grant of £2.5 million which will help us to drive forward a number of initiatives in sport, business, and health and wellbeing.
A proportion of the grant will support the expansion of SportPark on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP). The development of SportPark’s fourth pavilion will enable us to attract more sport-related organisations and businesses to LUSEP, underlining our global reputation for sporting excellence, and will also generate further job opportunities in the region.
Some of the Town Deal funding will also be used to support 60 new businesses through a New Business Wayfinder programme that provides office space, access to coaching, training, expertise, and innovation and prototype labs on LUSEP and in the town.
A further portion of our funding will help us to support the health of the local communities and improving the connectedness between the railway station, the town centre and the Science and Enterprise Park.
The Town Deal funding is a good example of the ‘Partnerships’ aim in our strategic plan, particularly our ambition to accelerate our impact through collaborations with businesses and other organisations.
Next month we will hold a series of roadshow events to thank staff, particularly those in operational, administrative and technical roles, for their ongoing contributions to the University’s success, and to consider how the work they do will contribute to our new strategy.
The strategy will guide everything we do at the University over the next decade and will inform the day-to-day activities that each of us undertakes. It is an ambitious plan and we can only be successful if we all, whatever our role, understand what we have to achieve collectively and how the things we all do, every day, will contribute to it.
The roadshow events will also enable us to launch a new network for staff on grades up to and including Grade 5. Everyone at the University, whatever their role and their grade, should feel part of the University and its future. I hope this new staff network will help us to engage more effectively with these groups of staff.
Opinions and comment from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings