After the inspiring term in office of my predecessor, Anulika Ajufo, I certainly have a hard act to follow.
On the Board of Governors we find ourselves with a strong legacy of financial resilience and forward-thinking leadership despite - or perhaps even because of - the challenging period of Covid-19.
The trials of pandemic lockdown focussed minds, challenged policy and prompted us to re-imagine and then realise what a next generation university could look like.
We have emerged from this global crisis with great strength and enterprise and committed to the continuing transformation that was set out in 2018 by the vice chancellor and president, Professor Amanda Broderick, in our 10-year strategy, Vision 2028. All its demands rest upon a secure financial foundation, a key area where the Board holds oversight.
The Office for Students judged that in 2022 the University ranked in the top third of UK institutions in terms of financial resilience.
Our financial strength has allowed us to invest, with targeted interventions where they can make the greatest impact in our careers-first proposition, in our student experience and in our market attractiveness.
Our Connected Campus and Digital 1st Transformation programmes are perhaps the most visible sign of this investment, changing the feel, appearance and purpose of the physical and digital, social and learning spaces across our three East London campuses.
We have seen new careers-first learning environments open this year. The School of Health, Sport and Bioscience now has a high-tech inter-professional simulation suite. At the University Square Stratford campus, the Royal Docks School of Business and Law also has an array of simulated work areas with a mock court room, boardroom and the Strategy and Marketing Analytics laboratory, all designed to give our students real-world experience and an edge in the careers marketplace.
As well as enhancing our physical surroundings, we have invested in our digital infrastructure. One example of this is the rollout of our Technology-Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Framework, evolved from the Dual Delivery educational model. TEAL stresses the importance of time on campus for our students, who tend to thrive with personal contact, while also enhancing the benefits of our synchronous and asynchronous online learning environment.
According to the recent Graduate Outcomes Survey our top-class facilities and careers-first teaching and vision meant 92.3 per cent of our university graduates from 2019/2020 progressed to employment, further study and other positive outcomes.
Student outcomes have been driven up and outcome gaps driven down. The Board’s intent is to reinforce the support that improves all these performance indicators, ensuring our students have the best learning experience during their time with us and then move on seamlessly to sustainable careers.
Within careers we have developed ‘Talent Hacks’ as a vehicle to showcase students’ skills. These bring industry partners on campus, enabling students to connect with organisations. Recent events with Coca Cola and Siemens resulted in 40 per cent hire rates for student participants.
Our commitment to diversity has led to partnerships with The Guild of Entrepreneurs, Natwest and HSBC, who are working with us to develop innovative work programmes and to understand and address the barriers for underrepresented groups in pursuing entrepreneurship.
A landmark anniversary takes place in 2023. We will reflect on the journey of the University from its origins 125 years ago, from a technical institute with community impact, to today, a higher education institution with a global reach. The work may take place on a different scale but it is founded in the consistent values that we, the Board of Governors, are entrusted to uphold and guarantee.
We enter the next period of change with the utmost confidence in the institution’s ability to rise to the challenge of the future, pioneering new ways of thinking about what higher education can achieve.
On behalf of the Board of Governors, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all those who over the past year continue to work hard to make the University of East London such a progressive and innovative institution, especially our vice-chancellor and president, Professor Amanda Broderick, the University Executive Board, and all our staff, students and alumni. I welcome the six new governors, and two new staff governors, who join us on this important and rewarding journey.
I would like to close this message by expressing my gratitude to outgoing chair of the Board, Anulika Ajufo, for her outstanding leadership, work and dedication as a Governor and then Chair over the last four years.
John Garwood, Chair, Board of Governors