To tackle the greatest crisis of our lifetime – climate change – our University is undertaking agenda-setting work to help ensure a sustainable planet.
Our institution, in partnership with the University of Liverpool and Lancaster University, is spearheading the Research England-funded Prosper project to redefine postdoc career development.
It’s fair to say that when it comes to teaching and learning, the past twelve months have seen seismic shifts – developments we might have expected to take close to a decade when we rung in the new year in January 2020 were suddenly compressed into a few months, with colleagues getting to grips with new technologies and rapidly moving their teaching online.
Uncertainty has been a running theme during the long-drawn-out process of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Initially this applied most forcefully to EU nationals worried about their future rights to study, live and work in this country (and vice-versa for their UK counterparts) but concerns also extended to whether we would be able to continue to take part in EU research and student mobility programmes and to wider issues around the potential impact of trade and regulatory change.
This period of time has often been referred to as a ‘great homeworking experiment’. But when organisations normally adopt remote working they usually do so in a strategic way, with much planning and organising. Like all organisations the pandemic forced us to adopt remote working at speed and in difficult circumstances.
Usually at this time of year our campus is buzzing with excitement and optimism as students from all over the world descend on Manchester, taking full advantage of the opportunities that our University and the wider city present. It’s also one of the busiest times for colleagues with all hands on deck to support our on-going research activities and to make sure our students feel welcome and help them adjust to their new life.
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.