Blog post

Annual Review 2017/18: A year at Derby

We reflect on the 2017/18 year with a month-by-month overview of key events at the University of Derby.

By The Corporate Communications Team - 7 October 2018


Derby ranks in top 1,000 universities worldwide

The University was ranked in the top 1,000 universities in the world by Times Higher Education (THE), the first time Derby has been listed in the prestigious global rankings. The World University Rankings 2018 are THE's biggest international league table to date. The top 1,000 represents no more than 5% of the 20,000 higher education institutions globally.

UK's largest electric cycle hire scheme unveiled

Staff and students were given the first look at the new electric bike designed for the Derby Bike Hire Scheme, which launched in Spring 2018. The bike was unveiled by the former Mayor of Derby, Councillor John Whitby, at the University's Kedleston Road Campus as part of its Welcome Fortnight event for students. Students and staff, including Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell, had the opportunity to take the bike on a test ride.

University funding boost for local business

SureScreen Scientifics was awarded £68,430 from the University's Invest to Grow fund to develop a new bespoke DNA research facility, which created eight jobs. The independent family-run business, based in Morley, Derby, had been working on a new area of DNA research, focused on environmental and ecological screening, when it recognised the potential market opportunities. The company approached the Invest to Grow fund to contribute to the expansion of the business.


Derby Textile graduate secures top role at international design event

Derby Textile graduate Gabriel Roland was appointed Project Manager for Vienna Design Week, Austria's largest design festival. He graduated in 2014 with a First Class honours and continued to study for an MA in Fashion and Textiles, achieving a Distinction. As Project Manager, he was responsible for coordinating the programme, working with external partners to establish professional relationships with companies, designers and cultural and educational institutions, so that they could showcase their projects.

Devonshire Spa shortlisted in Good Spa Guide 2017 Awards

The Devonshire Spa, based at the University's Buxton Campus, was shortlisted in the Good Spa Guide Readers' Choice National Awards 2017. The spa, based in the historic Devonshire Dome, was listed as a finalist in the Best Customer Service category, up against high-profile spas including Center Parcs' Aqua Sana Whinfell Forest and Longleat Forest resorts. It's the first spa of its kind in the world to run on commercial lines, giving students aiming to make a career in spa management the best training in a real-world learning environment.

Textile Design student wins international design competition

Katie Gilbert, a second-year Textile Design student, won the Kimono Fabric Design Competition 2017, which involved designing an illustration that could be reproduced using the Yuzen technique, a traditional method of dyeing cloth. The design she created reflected a combination of both traditional and modern Japan. The kimono is a very traditional piece of clothing in Japan, therefore she decided to use the country as her inspiration.


£1m refurbishment of Buxton campus

The Buxton Campus received a £1 million investment to further improve its facilities for students. A new restaurant and two new cafes were opened at the Campus, along with the addition of a new commercial kitchen and the refurbishment of another, providing state-of-the-art catering equipment for hospitality students to use.

Scholarships launched for fledgling female football journalists

Talented young women footballers were offered the chance to win a £27,750 bursary to study football journalism. Derby, home to the only Football Journalism degree in the UK, teamed up with Derby County Ladies to offer three fully-funded places on the course.

University funding supports water company expansion

The National Forest Spring Water Company received funding from the University's Invest to Grow programme to support its research and development in the Midlands. The University awarded £67,662, as well as a loan of £37,662, to the company for the development of a new manufacturing unit within its existing site, and to purchase a new extraction pump. The funding enabled the company to create three new jobs and increase its turnover.


University secures Right Legal placements for law students

The University secured work experience placements for more than 100 of its law students with Derby law firm, Right Legal. The entire cohort of second-year students at Derby Law School were given the opportunity to work with the specialist wills and probate firm, based on Wyvern Retail Park. Carrie Caladine, Director of Right Legal, said: "We have recruited a number of excellent graduates from the University, so we're looking forward to welcoming so many new students to the firm with a view to attracting more incredible talent in the future." The scheme forms part of the University's Learning and Teaching Strategy, which ensures that every student is fully prepared through placements, real-world learning and work-based projects.

D2EE project saves Tidyco six tonnes of carbon emissions

The D2 Energy Efficiency (D2EE) project, a partnership run by the University of Derby, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council, awarded £11,000 of funding to Tidyco Ltd, helping reduce its carbon emissions by six tonnes per year. The hydraulic and pneumatic components manufacturer applied for the investment to part-fund the costs of installing a new energy-efficient LED lighting system at its premises in Derby. The system uses 60% less energy and will save the company £1,740 a year on electricity


Senior leadership team strengthened

The University's senior leadership team was strengthened with the appointment of two new Pro Vice-Chancellor Deans. Professor Warren Manning joined the College of Engineering and Technology from De Montfort University, where he was Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean for the Faculty of Business and Law. Professor Keith McLay was appointed to the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at the University, following nearly four years as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University. Professor Manning and Professor McLay will be leading the University's ambitious plans for the Colleges, responding to the needs of the government's Industrial Strategy by forging close links with industry and helping to boost regional growth.

Forensic Science lecturer examines Bronze Age man

Sanita Nezirovic, Lecturer in Forensic Science, received national press attention when she studied the skeleton of a young Bronze Age man, who she believed would have been a "good looking chap" with better teeth than many modern-day Britons. The bones, found in a Northumberland field in September 2017, belonged to a 17- to 21-year-old man with a remarkably "perfect smile", having apparently escaped the poor oral hygiene of his day. She said the "absolutely stunning" remains would have belonged to no ordinary man, joking: "He would have been a catch for the ladies."


Invest to Grow fund creates 1,000 local jobs

The creation of more than 1,000 jobs in key growth sectors across the East Midlands has been supported by the University since the launch of its Invest to Grow funding scheme in 2014. More than a quarter of the new jobs have been created in Derbyshire, including roles in transport equipment manufacturing, life sciences, construction, food and drink manufacturing, logistics, engineering and the low carbon sectors. This marked a major milestone for the fund which, through a re-circulating finance scheme, provides a combination of loans and grants to SMEs to support specific projects.

University to publish Man Booker Prize winning children's book

Peregrine Publishing, the University's publishing imprint, announced it would be publishing a new children's book by the 2017 Man Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders. They secured the UK print rights from Penguin Random House in the US for George Saunders' acclaimed short story 'Fox 8', and have had the opportunity to work with the author this year. George Saunders, whose Booker Prize-winning novel 'Lincoln in the Bardo' was published in paperback by Bloomsbury in February, added: "I can't wait to see what these immensely talented students do with my story, and I'm so grateful for their passion and interest."


Derby crowned 'University of the year'

Derby took the 'University of the year' title at the Midlands Business Awards in recognition of its enterprise support programme, which provides help to students and graduates to set up their own business. The 'Be The Boss' scheme, run by the University's Careers and Employment Service, is aimed at students and graduates who want to become self-employed. The programme offers a combination of action planning, one-to-one support provided by experienced business advisers and a series of workshops, and has helped more than 60 people develop a business idea into a working business.

New Chancellor installed

Lord Burlington was installed as the University's new Chancellor, an 'ambassadorial' role held by his father, the 12th Duke of Devonshire, for the last 10 years. The official ceremony was held in the Devonshire Dome, at the University's Buxton Campus. Lord Burlington (pictured right with his father) said: "It is an honour and privilege to become Chancellor of such an ambitious and forward-looking university and I intend to take on the position with an open mind, not with preconceived ideas. I am curious, I want to listen, and I want to learn."

Students scoop national bursaries

Two final-year Textile Design students were recognised by the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters for their innovative knitwear designs. Kate Myerscough and Megan Scott-Jenner faced strong competition from textile design programmes across the UK, in the Worshipful Company's Student Bursaries and Awards scheme. They received £4,000 in funding and will also benefit from mentoring from an industrial consultant through the company. In addition, three students received Engineering Horizons Bursaries from the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Michael Cane, Kyran Hill and Adam Carpenter were among only 75 students to receive the £1,000 bursary.


£150,000 funding awarded to support student wellbeing

Student wellbeing is high on the University's agenda, and it offers support to students whenever they need it. In April, Derby received a £150,000 share of £1.5 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to improve support for the mental health and wellbeing of postgraduate research students. The funding will be used to create an online platform where students can find mental health resources that will offer support to them. The site will be maintained by charity Student Minds, with input from the University.

Next generation of chefs learn from industry experts

Guests at the University's restaurant in the historic Devonshire Dome enjoyed a taste of the future when they sampled a four-course meal, prepared by students under the guidance of chefs from three of the region's top restaurants. The evening was the first in a series of events to showcase the University's work in training the next generation of chefs, as part of wider activity to address the skills shortage in the hospitality industry. Students from the Hospitality and Culinary department created their own dishes, working with mentors Rupert Rowley and Adam Harper of Fischer's at Baslow (Derbyshire's only Michelin-starred restaurant); Sam Buckley, from Where the Light Gets In at Stockport, and Chris Bassett, Head Chef at Hispi in Didsbury.

Derby hosts Network of Entrepreneurs event

Derby's next generation of business professionals had the chance to hear from business leaders at the University's annual Network of Entrepreneurs event, which took place at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery. The event provides an opportunity for students, local professionals and academics to network and engage with one another, as well as hear from guest speakers, who this year included Derby graduate and Dragons' Den winner Edward Hollands.


Top 30 Guardian University Guide place for Derby

Derby was ranked in the top 30 in the Guardian University Guide 2019, a climb of 25 places, making it the sixth most improved university in the country. Welcoming the results, Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor, said: "To achieve our highest-ever ranking is fantastic news for the University and formally recognises the outstanding commitment of staff and students."

Stunning 20-feet tall sculpture celebrates history of Derby people

A University Photography student celebrated the photographic history of the people of Derby with a 20-feet tall sculptural installation for her final-year exhibition. Danielle Shambley created a cascading installation, called 'Eructate: The 90th Year', using thousands of local family archive images taken between 1928 and the present day. The installation, which spanned three mezzanine floors of the Markeaton Street site, represented the synergy between the Derby School of Arts finding independence 90 years ago this year, and domestic family photography becoming commonplace in the UK in the same year.

Derby named finalists in Global Teaching Excellence Awards

In 2018, the University was named one of 17 finalists in the Global Teaching Excellence Awards, which showcase the world's best institutions. The Awards, led by Advance HE, recognise and celebrate the institution-wide commitment to the pursuit of teaching excellence. They are open to all providers of higher education across the world and, in 2018, attracted expressions of interest from institutions based in 41 countries in the six permanently populated continents.


National teaching award win for Derby

The institution scooped the Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year Award at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards. The University was one of six institutions shortlisted for the category, designed to recognise 'a teaching and learning strategy that is distinctive and innovative, has enhanced both the student and staff experience, and reflects an institution's core values.' Professor Malcolm Todd, Provost (Academic), said: "This prestigious award reflects the priority we have placed at the University of Derby on providing an outstanding student-centred academic experience, where we innovate at a subject level."

Derby features in world's top 250 new universities

The University was included as one of the world's top 250 new universities, in the prestigious Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2018. Institutions from 55 different countries feature in this year's edition of the Rankings, looking at universities aged 50 and under. Young universities are measured across their teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industry income.

New PVC Dean for Derby

The University appointed a new Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean for the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences. Professor Kamil Omoteso joined Derby from Coventry University, where he was Head of School for Economics, Finance and Accounting. In his new role, Kamil will be responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the College, developing a sustainable research culture, and reviewing current course portfolios in order to respond to the changing needs of industry.


Celebrating 100 years of the RAF

Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell attended a historic celebration for the Royal Air Force as the service's 100th anniversary events came to a head in central London. To mark the centenary, tens of thousands of spectators filled London's Royal Parks and the Mall as 100 RAF aircraft from the past century came together in a flypast over Buckingham Palace. As a forces-friendly organisation, the University is a patron of the RAF100 Appeal's commemorative album, '100 years of the RAF ', and Professor Mitchell was invited to attend a special book presentation hosted by publisher St James's House in association with the RAF100 Appeal.

Victory for Team Derby at BUCS Awards 2018

The University's sports division, Team Derby, was ranked in the top 40 in the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) league table - its highest-ever position, moving up 17 places. Derby also scooped 'Most Improved University' - the only University to be awarded the accolade twice - at the BUCS Awards ceremony. BUCS delivers more than 50 sports to over 150 universities across the UK. The BUCS Awards celebrate the successes of teams and individuals in various league tables and competitions.

Overall student satisfaction increases

Derby achieved 86% overall student satisfaction in this year's National Survey of Students (NSS) - up from 85% in 2017. The University also increased its scores in the key areas of teaching on my course (88%, up 1% on last year); assessment and feedback (79%, up 2% on last year) and academic support (83%, up 2% on last year). The NSS is a high-profile annual census of nearly half a million students across the UK, commissioned by the Office for Students.


New programme is well above par

Aspiring young golfers have the opportunity to develop their talent at the same time as achieving an academic degree, thanks to the University's new performance golf programme. The specialist two-year course is a partnership arrangement between Performance Golf Academy Derby and the University. Students who enrol on the programme will be trained to develop their golfing skills to the highest level possible, equipping them with all the necessary tools for those who wish to pursue a career as a professional golfer, as well as undertake a foundation degree in Sport Performance and Analysis.

Academic manager receives prestigious National Teaching Fellowship

Paula Shaw, Academic Manager at the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL), received a National Teaching Fellowship - the most prestigious individual award in higher education - in recognition of her outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession. The Advance HE National Teaching Fellowship scheme has been running since 2000. On gaining the award, fellows play an ongoing role in enhancing teaching and learning within their institution, the higher education sector and further afield. Passionate about distance and online learning, Paula was one of the founding members of UDOL in 2011 and has driven our approach to online learning, providing inspirational academic leadership. She is part of the senior management team that has seen online learning at Derby grow to over 3,600 students across a range of programmes in 2017/18. UDOL has achieved sector-leading retention rates for online learning, with around 93% of students being retained year on year.

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About the author

The Corporate Communications Team
University Press and PR

The Corporate Communications Team manage the University's Press and PR, putting forward academics, support staff and student representatives for 'expert comment' on different topics to local and national broadcast media. The team is highly experienced in communications and journalism - locally, regionally and nationally - as well as in-house and agency public relations.