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From the Vice-Chancellor – September 2023

2 October 2023

7 mins

I hope you all managed to get a break over the summer. 

In my first newsletter of the new academic year: the Teaching Excellence Framework, green light for the National Rehabilitation Centre, Vice-Chancellor’s Awards, World Athletics Championships, Times Higher Education Awards shortlist, and Professor Chris Linton.

Teaching Excellent Framework announced

I’m delighted to announce today that Loughborough has been awarded triple gold – the highest accolade possible – in the latest Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). We are the only higher education provider in the East Midlands to achieve this, and just 15% of the 175 HE institutions whose results have been released today have earned the triple gold distinction.

The TEF is run by the Office for Students to encourage higher education providers to deliver excellence in teaching, learning and study-related outcomes for their students. Universities receive an overall rating as well as two underpinning ones – for student experience and for student outcomes.

Loughborough has been awarded gold in its overall rating, as well as in the student experience and student outcomes categories. This confirms the breadth and quality of the teaching and learning we offer our students, as well as the opportunities and support we provide as they take their first steps into their career.

I would like to thank all those involved in the preparation for the TEF, particularly Professor Rachel Thomson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, who led the delivery of our submission, and Alice Robinson (2022/23 Academic Experience Executive Officer) and Nicky Conway (Director of Student Influence) from Loughborough Students’ Union, who both made significant contributions to the submission.

National Rehabilitation Centre announced 

This month the Government approved plans for the development of the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), which will combine patient care, delivered by the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, with research, innovation and training led by Loughborough and Nottingham universities. The NRC will transform the lives of those who have experienced life-changing events including injury, trauma or illness.

I am delighted to see this important facility get the go ahead. Our partnership with the NRC underlines our mission to use our world-leading expertise in sport and exercise to drive innovation that impacts both national and global health and wellbeing.

The £105 million 70-bed specialist NHS facility will be built on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate – located close to the Loughborough campus. The Estate is already home to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre; the co-location of the defence and the NHS facilities will enable expertise to be shared in ways that have never been possible before.

The NRC aims to be open to patients by the end of 2024.

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards

I was delighted to host the second annual Vice-Chancellor’s Awards ceremony earlier this month, to celebrate the contributions of some exceptional people across our organisation, who have demonstrated their commitment to the University’s aims and values.  

This year more than 200 nominations were submitted for the 17 awards, which span six categories: research and innovation; education and student experience; equity, diversity and inclusion; international engagement and impact; sporting excellence and opportunity; and living our strategic values. The breadth and quality of the nominations shows the incredible talent, passion and commitment that staff right across the University have.  

A full list of the winners and those shortlisted is available on the Vice Chancellor’s Awards website. My congratulations to all those who won or were shortlisted. I’d also like to say thank you to Pauline Matturi, our magnificent compere for the event, and the student jazz band Tuxedo Swing, who provided an incredible compilation of live music including the West Ham anthem, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.

This year’s event was centred around our Climate Change and Net Zero strategic theme. We have committed to planting a tree each year to commemorate the awards, which over the years will create a new wooded area on campus, leaving a lasting legacy of the award winners. 

The winners’ trophies also had sustainability at their heart; our FM Joinery team cut the wood used for the trophies and the design and print elements were led by Creative and Print Services (see the video about this on the Vice Chancellor’s Awards website). 

World Athletics Championships

Loughborough athletes produced some extraordinary performances at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest at the start of this month, bringing home a medal haul of three golds, one silver and two bronze after nine days of competition in Hungary. 

Recent Business Analytics graduate Ben Pattison won a shock 800m bronze on his World Championships debut, just three years after being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening heart condition. Great Britain’s men’s 4x400m relay team, which featured three Loughborough athletes – alumni pair Rio Mitcham and Charlie Dobson and current PhD student Alex Haydock-Wilson – also picked up bronze, adding to Rio Mitcham’s personal medal tally, after he helped Great Britain to a dramatic mixed 4x400m relay silver on the opening day.

In the heptathlon, University-based Katarina Johnson-Thompson won her second world title, while Chase Ealey, who’s based at Loughborough, won gold for the USA in the shot-put and Neeraj Chopra – who used the University as his winter training base – made history by winning India’s first-ever gold medal at a World Championships in the javelin.

Loughborough’s medal contribution ensured that Great Britain finished seventh in the overall table with ten medals – equalling their best-ever record at the Worlds from 1993.

The University’s long-standing success in athletics was celebrated at the Championships at an event held in partnership with the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, and the University Chancellor and World Athletics’ President, Lord Sebastian Coe. Among those attending were our sports partners, Loughborough alumni, coaches, and current and former athletes.

Times Higher Education Awards shortlist

I was really pleased to learn that Loughborough has been shortlisted for three Times Higher Education Awards – for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership; Outstanding Estates Team; and Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year. The awards are known as the ‘Oscars of higher education’, and our nominations recognise work across all three of our strategic themes and several of our aims.

The nomination in the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership’ category recognises the work of sports ecologist Dr Madeleine Orr from Loughborough University London, who was lead researcher on the acclaimed report titled ‘Slippery Slopes: How climate change is threatening the 2022 Winter Olympics’ and the driving force behind the ‘Sports for Nature’ report, delivered in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme.

The ‘Outstanding Estates Team’ nomination marks the development of Pavilion 4 of the SportPark building on Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park – the first Passivhaus accredited development on the campus.

The ‘Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year’ category recognises the Black in Sport Summit, an initiative launched in 2022 by four Loughborough students – with support from Loughborough University, Loughborough Sport and commercial sponsors – to change the narrative about Black people in sport.

Many congratulations to all those nominated and those who have contributed to the shortlisted initiatives. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 7 December 2023. I’m sure we’ll all have our fingers crossed.

Professor Chris Linton

This month we announced that Professor Chris Linton will be stepping down as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the end of the academic year. After this, Chris will use the University Fellowship he has been awarded to work on a number of projects, some in support of the University strategy and others in mathematics.

By the end of his tenure as Provost, Chris will have been in post for 13 years and completed three successful terms for three Vice-Chancellors. He has been at the heart of many significant achievements and developments at the University over that period, including the establishment of the London campus, and the significant expansion of our academic, student and professional services facilities on campus.

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