It is certainly an interesting time to start a role as Associate Vice-President (AVP) for Blended and Flexible Learning!
Fostering the conditions for more open forms of scholarship at our University is a priority in the Research and Discovery theme of the Our Future strategy.
At The University of Manchester we’re mainly not designing and providing wholly online programmes. We can make the online components higher-quality, with better production values, based on appropriate pedagogy for working with online learners – and our students are guiding us on how to do this. But we also believe passionately in an on-campus experience, and we miss the buzz of our campus full of students.
These last few weeks, particularly the last week or so, have undoubtedly been some of the most unusual and challenging of my entire career, and I am sure many of you feel the same way. These events are truly unprecedented, and moving at an astonishing pace.
The climate crisis is the most serious threat the planet faces today. All other issues that we worry about, and try to find solutions for – if I can pinch a line from Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca –‘don’t amount to a hill of beans’ if we cannot tackle the climate crisis.
I would like to spend some time on one particular issue that appears to have gained traction within the sector over the last year or so. That is the issue of so-called precarious employment within universities.
Absolutely the best thing since my arrival at Manchester has been the daily discovery of more and more colleagues who are also devoted to ensuring that we support our students as they learn, gain mastery of their academic disciplines, build their many and varied student experiences, and juggle their often complicated lives. If that’s you, then regardless of your job title or where in our University you work, I’m delighted to welcome you to ‘Team April’, whether or not we have met yet.
When I’m out and about meeting staff I hear much debate about the why, what, when and how of change in our University. I wanted to share my thoughts on this often contentious topic – and hear your views too.
Now that the new academic year is well underway, there’s a real buzz around campus. We all want our students to have as positive an experience as possible throughout the whole time they spend with us, as well as creating better processes and ways of doing things for our staff, saving us time and effort.
The results of the National Student Survey have now been released, with our University increasing overall satisfaction from 83% to 84%.