It is with immense pride that I write this opening statement for the University of Derby’s Annual Review 2016/17 and reflect on the achievements that we, an institution exuding talented staff and students, have accomplished during the last academic year.
When I joined Derby as Vice-Chancellor two years ago I was impressed by the ambition that was shared amongst colleagues; a desire to continually raise the bar and an absolute commitment to providing our students with the best possible experience during their time here, by delivering excellence throughout all our academic and professional areas.
We have achieved great things at Derby this year and, whilst undoubtedly there will be challenges ahead, I am confident that we can continue to make a real difference and impact upon on our students and our society.
Professor Kathryn Mitchell
Our Learning and Teaching Strategy (2016-2020) is underpinned by the three pillars of employability, academic quality and research in the curriculum. Derby is ranked in the top 20 universities in the country for teaching quality (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017) and 96.3% of our graduates are in work or further study within six months of finishing their course (HESA 2017).
We are also pioneering the use of technology-enhanced learning – such as lecture recording systems, live survey tools and digital assessment technologies – across our courses to improve the quality and availability of teaching resources and help students develop their digital skills.
Teaching Excellence Framework Gold
We were delighted to be awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), putting Derby in the top 20% of all UK universities.
Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year
Dr Ian Turner received the HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award in May in recognition of his outstanding and innovative teaching style.
Students at the heart of learning and teaching
A new Student Experience Learning and Teaching Committee (SELTC) has been established and is co-chaired by the Union of Students.
Research is a fundamental part of our identity as an academic institution. In the last decade we have increased our annual research income by 172% and, in 2014, we celebrated our best ever Research Excellence Framework (REF) results, with three quarters of our output judged to be at least ‘internationally significant’.
Professor Nick Antonopoulos was appointed as Pro Vice-Chancellor Research in April 2017 to further support our research ambitions. Professor Antonopoulos moved to Derby in 2009 and became Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology in 2014. In his new role, he will develop a research strategy for Derby that will seek to build our reputation and foster a culture of research.
Derby is the fastest growing city in the East Midlands and in the top ten nationally, according to a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research. As a university, we recognise the role we have in training skilled workers and offering innovation and enterprise support to meet the needs of our thriving regional economy.
Supporting regional growth
We're actively promoting economic growth in the East Midlands through a range of programmes designed to support local industry, such as business incubation services for start-ups and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with companies looking to innovate.
We have also unveiled plans for a new science park, which will provide a great environment for collaboration between entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses.
Midlands Enterprise Universities
A partnership between seven universities in the Midlands was officially launched in October 2016 to bring jobs and wealth creation to the region.
The partnership brings the institutions together to create a unique pool of skills, research, expertise and facilities, which will be made available to businesses and local authorities to create jobs, boost economic growth and plug skills gaps across the Midlands.
Derby is a university with a global outlook and we are working towards developing a genuinely international culture within our community.
In the 2016/17 academic year we have welcomed over 900 EU and exchange students and 600 international students from over 100 countries. In total, Derby’s international students contribute over £14 million to the economy each year.
We’re proud to be recognised as the second most recommended UK modern university in the International Student Barometer 2016. Derby was also ranked in the top quartile of UK universities for quality lectures and employability.
University joins UK delegation to China
Senior leaders from the University of Derby visited Shanghai in October 2016 as part of a ministerial delegation led by Universities Minister Jo Johnson MP to strengthen research collaborations between the UK and China.
Developing international links
We are proud to have academic partnerships with institutions across the globe. We have also recently established teams in Shanghai and Mumbai and will continue to expand our international network in the coming years.
Derby is an increasingly popular destination for students, with applications having grown by 16.4% in the last five years. In the previous academic year, the University was ranked sixth in the country for student number growth after an 11% increase in the student population.
Our students are our top priority and we work hard to offer an excellent education that will give them the best possible start to their careers.
An inclusive student body
Derby has a vibrant and diverse community of students. We have 146 nationalities represented across our sites and 8.5% of our students have a declared disability.
Giving back to the community
Many students also get involved in projects such as the Raise and Give (RAG) society, which donated over £60,000 to local causes in 2016/17.
Student life at Derby
Derby has an active Union of Students which boasts over 60 societies with a membership of over 1,300 students.
Whilst their time at the University of Derby may have come to an end, our alumni will always be part of the Derby community and we continue to support them in the years following their graduation.
If you visited the city between 9 June and 23 July then you may have seen ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’, the stunning display of thousands of red ceramic poppies cascading down from the historic Silk Mill. These were from the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red’, a display of 888,246 poppies at the Tower of London in 2014, created by artist, and Derby alumnus, Paul Cummins CBE (BA Craft, 2010), and designer Tom Piper, as a national commemoration of the First World War.
Each year the University of Derby confers a number of honorary awards on individuals in recognition of outstanding achievement or service. Our 2016/17 honorands are listed below.
Education is an important driver of social mobility and Derby has a strong track record in widening participation in higher education. Nearly 20% of our full-time first degree undergraduates are from the lowest higher education participation neighbourhoods and are often the first member of their family to go to university.
UK-domiciled black and minority ethnic (BME) students make up 19.6% of our undergraduate body and 97% of our undergraduates are from state school backgrounds.
Family Fun Day
Record numbers attended our annual Family Fun Day this year, which once again proved to be a popular local attraction. Around 5,000 people attended the free pirate-themed event.
Each year our academic teams organise fun activities for all the family, which this year included: a robotics challenge, forensic crime scene investigation, 3D printing, telescope building and map making.
Over the last 10 years we've invested over £150 million in our facilities to ensure that our students have access to some of the most modern teaching spaces in the country. Last year we invested £28 million in improving our campus infrastructure and teaching resources.
City centre living for students
A new hall of residence close to Derby city centre opened in September 2016. Cathedral Court provides housing for more than 350 students and is the latest addition to the Derby Student Residences Limited (DSRL) portfolio. Another new hall of residence, Agard Court, is currently under construction next to One Friar Gate Square, home of the Derby Law School, and will open in 2018.
Chesterfield Campus opens
Our new £6.9 million campus in Chesterfield was officially opened in October 2016. The Grade II listed building, formerly the St Helena Girls Grammar School, provides modern facilities for healthcare, engineering, IT and business courses. It also includes an innovation centre with six business incubation units to support economic growth in the town.
New STEM Centre
A £12 million extension to Markeaton Street will provide an extra 4,200m2 of teaching space for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Practical teaching spaces will be available for our new MEng, electrical and electronics engineering, and computer networking programmes.