Birthdays, Burgers, Birmingham and Brighton


Seems a long while since I last wrote anything here, so lots to catch up on!

Since the last post I’ve had a birthday (and very nice that was), attended the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Conference here, went to a BBC ACE event in Birmingham, ate a burger at the Wellbeing BBQ, went to Salford for a ‘Change in HE’ workshop, accepted a carbon reduction award for us at the ‘Business in the Community’ awards, chaired a BBC Outreach event at the NMeM, took a day trip to Brighton and helped witha BBEC University Academy event.


Just the usual couple of weeks then!

 The LTA conference was very good this year, although I always have the fear that there won’t be time to implement all those good ideas into good practice. Hearing what the schools’ strategies are proved that although we all have much in common the diverse subject areas that we cover mean that there are some different priorities areas in each school. Which is to be expected, but it’s hp we pick out the cross-school themes to prioritise at a Univesity level that’s important.

The BBC ACE event was interesting, not least for the fact that I found out that the set of the Politics Show is in fact the corner of a shared office! No need for expensive studios now then!!! But more importantly it was good to hear how the BBC 4 ‘North’ commisions are developing, and to have a chance to discuss the future of programmes with regional content such as Late Kick Off.

Our ‘Wellbeing‘ week certainly improved my personal well-being. Well, a good barbbequeued burger usually has that effect on me!

Carbon Reduction Award Winners Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and University of Bradford

Do I always look this uncomfortable in a dinner jacket?

Winning a Carbon Reduction award at the BitC Excellence Awards was very pleasing, even if I felt a little unworthy as I only chair the Energy & Carbon Task Group and everyone else does the hard work. We were also ‘highly commended’ in the Sustainable Travel category. It was an added bonus that my allocated ferret was a winner on the night, but that’s a whole different story!

Next major event was the BBC’s Yorkshire Regional Audience Council ‘Outreach’ event at the NMeM. I was chairing this for the first time and it covered three topics – ‘localness’ and what it means in relation to the BBC, feedback on the election coverage and finally what would people like to see more (and less of) as part of the BBC’s strategy of ‘doing less better’. Always interesting to hear a variety of opinions, although there were some definite themes emerging that will be fed back to the BBC Trust.

The ‘day trip to Brighton’ was a bit of an ordeal. Because of other commitments, I had to travel for my external examining duties to Sussex and back in one day. That involved getting up at 3.30am and getting back at about 11pm. Still, letting the train take the strain was relatively relaxing and fairly eco-friendly.

BBEC University Academy

BBEC University Academy

Last but not least is was the awards for students from Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College ‘University Academy’. This is for high academic achievers, and the  presentations were held here at the University. Good to see so many bright pupils and their families, I think there’s hope for the future of the planet after all! And my assumption that the crisps would go quicker than the fresh fruit proved to be completely wrong, children are clearly listening to the healthy eating message. Thanks to Jennie for helping to arrange the evening and the catering.


Of course in between all this there’s been the usual meetings, marking, assessment committees, etc. I think a quiet weekend is in order, but with England v Germany on Sunday, that can’t be guaranteed.

BBC (again), ESD, Game Republic student success and City of Film

Another week, another BBC event. Well two actually. A quick tour and meeting some people at the BBC in Leeds last Monday as part of my new Yorkshire RAC role, and then attending a consultation event about the BBC Asian Network. That was an interesting way to start the week, and I’m already learing a lot about how the BBC works both locally and nationally.

On Tuesday we had a meeting with Tom, Deb and Jeni from the NMeM regarding BAF 2010. They’ve already got some great speakers lined up, but that’s under wraps for now. Plans look good for this year, we even more planned to be held here at the University.

Sumo Digital Game Technology award 1st Prize Winners

Sumo Digital Game Technology award 1st Prize Winners

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the Game Republic Showcase in Huddersfield. This was a real shame this year as our students did extremely well, scooping up the Game Technology award and runners up prizes for Best Team, Game Art and Game Design. They were the only team to be in the top three for all categories, which just goes to show the breadth of the talent there. Well done to all involved.

Wednesday was the ‘Education for Sustainable Development Pioneer Showcase’, and it was great to see so many projects under the Ecoversity banner across the University. This was closely followed by the Deisgn Show from EDT, which had some really interesting projects on show, not least of which was a ‘restored’ dalek originally made by some of our students!

Thursday was of course Celebrating Diversity Day, which I only managed to make the early part of due to other commitments. So worst of all I missed out on all the interesting food, which as you’ll probably know was particularly upsetting for me.

And so to Friday, and the City of Film board meeting. As usual this was a good meeting, and although this project has really had relatively little funding it’s achieved great things in the last year (not least because of the enthusiasm and drive of Peg as the director). The one big worry at the moment is whether the project can continue to deliver in the tough times ahead as no doubt the small funding that’s there at the moment will be squeezed as people prioritise what little there is in their budgets. Fingers crossed as being the world’s first UNESCO City of Film is something that the City really needs to make the most of.

After that it was good to have a three day weekend.

Two days in London

This week began with a trip to London for a meeting with Skillset about CPD modules and a visit to the BBC.

The Skillset meeting went well, and we are  looking at developing some modules to fit into the ‘Build your own MA‘ programme. This is very different from traditional PG programmes and offers a flexible approach to study for people already in industry.

Tuesday was my first event as a member of the BBC’s Audience Council. It was an induction event covering the responsibilities and what the BBC Trust expect from council members. We also had a chance to have a quick tour of the studios and the newsroom and meet some of the people working there (and yes, I still get a bit excited at being in the Later with Jools Holland studio when they’re preparing for the next show).

It was a very interesting day, and I must admit looking forward to taking on the role of chair of the Yorkshire Regional Audience Council, although it will be a big responsibility, especially for someone from the South!

I’m expected to draw on my contacts and networks to get a wider picture of peoples’ perceptions of the BBC’s output, so questions/answers on a postcard to the usual address please.

Final Year Student work

With students coming to the end of their degrees, the last few weeks has meant that I’ve got to see a lot of final year project work, both in terms of inividual work and group projects. It’s a time of year that I really enjoy as one of the bad points of being dean is that the day-to-day contact with the real work of the School (both in terms of teaching and research) is a lot less that I’d like.

As in previous years, it’s pleasing to see that not only is the quality of the work up there with the best around but the diversity of both the subject matter and the technology used shows that the students have really thought about how to approach problems in a creative and considered way. Just the sort of thing they’ll need in the next stage of their careers.

I’m also sure that there’ll be some prize winning pieces there, so we should be able to add to our prize winning staff and may even need to get a proper trophy cabinet!

Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Award success!

A great night for SCIM at the KT awards. Hassan won the Vice Chancellor’s Award for his work that has resulted in the company Tangentix being formed, John Baruch got a special award for his work with the Robotic Telescope, and two former students, Simon Havil and Robert McCarthy from Cogwork Studios, won the Tom Ashdown Award for Enterprise.

Ping just missed out for his work with Bell C&S Ltd.

Next year we just need to make sure we win all of the awards!

At last, a new update

Finally managed to get an update out to the School, the last one was in November! No excuse except (a) there’s been so much happening that there’s been no time to tell anyone and (b) I was waiting for some more definitive information. I’ve now found a small slot of time as my trip overseas was cancelled (just as well given the flight situation) and I think there’ll never be any definitive information!

Most of the last few weeks (post the move, more of that later) have been looking at how we fill the hole left by the HEFCE cap on numbers. Overall we’d been looking at growing our UG numbers in line with previous policy and obviously the halt on this has resulted in some head scratching. Postgraduate growth will be difficult (how will people afford it?) and overseas recruitment is very competitive. I hope Brown (or whoever it might be) gets his ‘crack down’ on bogus colleges to reduce the number of overseas students by 40,000 correct and does just that without impacting on legitimate students at legitimate institutions.

We’re obviously looking at more flexible delivery and programmes aimed helping those students not able to find a place due to the cap, but this is very much uncharted waters for everyone. Mind you, it seems the HE sector is very much like this every year!

At least it’s never boring…