Welcome back to those who have been on vacation during August – I trust you had a relaxing break. It’s Undergraduate Admissions time once again – a period of frantic activity for admissions teams and sleepless nights for Pro-Vice Chancellors!
You will recall that we did very well last year, managing to exceed our ‘ABB+’ numbers target. So how did we do this year? In short, even better! Numbers to date suggest that we have exceeded our ‘ABB+’ target numbers by a very substantial margin. Given that this is an open blog I won’t mention numbers, but there has been a very strong performance across the Faculty. I should particularly draw attention to Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry, who together have amassed the lion’s share of the additional numbers. As I write we are within a whisker of our ‘core’ numbers as well.
This is an outstanding performance, and I’d like to congratulate all the admissions teams for their hard work and determination. The outcome is particularly meritorious given that demographics and the much publicised drop in grades works against achieving our target, which in itself is greater than last year’s. These factors will continue to work against us of course, so we must not be complacent – it will always be hard work to convince the very best students to study with us.
Next year promises to be the first when student number controls will be lifted. While there might be a temptation to increase student numbers still further, we need to give this a great deal of thought. As we enter the annual planning round with schools toward the end of this year and early next, we need to consider the aspirations of the school and the overall strategy. This might involve expansion of undergraduate student numbers but equally it might not. The student experience is paramount of course, but we need to ensure also that academic staff are given sufficient time to focus on research and scholarly activities. Moreover, there needs to be a healthy balance between undergraduate and postgraduate numbers. We also need to consider what are aspirations are in the longer term. This will almost certainly involve significant investment in new facilities. The Science Central project is moving along rather nicely, but we will likely need additional facilities to satisfy our long-term vision. On that note there is another exciting project ‘on the boil’, which I hope to report on during the next academic session.