The University & City: Excelling Together

A Public Meeting chaired by His Worship The Mayor of Bath

Prof. Glynis Breakwell

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath

Richard Hall

President of Bath Chamber of Commerce

8 March 2004

The Mayor opened the meeting by outlining the long history of industrial activity in the City from 14th century wool processing to Victorian engineering and printing, and the current information technology-based activities. He then invited Professor Glynis Breakwell to open the meeting with her presentation.

Prof. Breakwell divided her talk into three themes: facts about the University; recent developments; and the

University's commitment to Bath:

Facts: There are 8,470 undergraduate and 2,530 post-graduate students, 15% of whom are from overseas, and 2,500 staff. There are 8 applicants from the UK/EU for every ‘home’ place, and 17 for every overseas place. It has one of the lowest dropout rates in the UK. It has an annual turnover of £110 million. Additionally, it currently has a research portfolio of £64 million and has contributed £125 million a year to the local economy. It is one of the three largest employers in Bath. The non-residential buildings cover 130,000 m2 at Claverton Down and Carpenter House Innovations Centre in the City. It provides 3,250 bedroom on campus.

Developments: £70 million has been invested in the Claverton Down campus from 2001 to 2004. Four new academic buildings and 470 new bedrooms have been built, the research facilities refurbished and the infrastructure and landscape upgraded. The Sports Training Village has been expanded. The next stage will include the refurbishment of the Physics department, the replacement of one other building and improved accessibility especially for disabled people. There will be some growth in undergraduate numbers to meet Government requirements and a significant increase in the number of post-graduates. Bursaries will be provided to some students when fees are introduced, and students will be selected so that standards are maintained.

A multi-disciplinary Research Centre will be established to attract internationally renowned researchers and two new Schools will be introduced to widen the disciplines available at the University: Health and Contemporary Arts. These activities will be located on the Swindon Campus, which is planned to have 2,400 undergraduates by 2016. Departments will not be re-located from Bath to Swindon.

Commitment to Bath: The University will continue to sup-port the City in many ways: by its international visibility, as an employer, as a consumer, by providing cultural and sports facilities, and, not least, by development of new businesses at Carpenter House – but primarily as a centre for Higher Education.

The Mayor then invited the President of the Chamber of Commerce to present his contribution.

 

Mr Richard Hall, President of Bath Chamber of Commerce, had been President of the Students Union at Bath University, and had set up a business based on the campus. He met his wife there, became a City Councillor while an undergraduate, and started Zenith International Ltd in Bath in 1991. (www.zenithinternational.com)

 

He then spoke about the relationship between the City and the University, its benefits and pressure points. The University and the City each derive appreciable advantages from the other: the University attracts students and staff because of the fame of the World Heritage City and its surroundings; the City gains a substantial income from the presence of the University. The benefits of a closer partnership between University and City would include:

New company formation from the activities at the Innovation Centre and business expansion by recruiting graduates to existing companies. Zenith provides examples: four of the staff are former students; one employee completed a Bath MBA in 2003; three left to train as teachers at BSUC in 2003
Better viability, amenities, services. Again Zenith staff illustrate this point. Several do language courses through the University; the translation service is an added resource
Holburne Museum
Source of part-time workforce. Zenith take 6 placement students a year and employ one part-time
Zenith provide sponsorship for an MBA dissertation and run MBA team projects for students
Charity support - £1M raised by students since 1967
There are five pressure points:

1. Residents living near the University have concerns about the parking of cars in their roads and developments in the existing Green Belt.

2. The student population is an appreciable proportion in

some districts.

3. The increased traffic during University and school terms is appreciable.

4. Students’ social life disturbs city centre residents at night.

5. Bath City Football Club and Team Bath, the University's football team compete for supporters.

Questions and Contributions

The first contributor criticised Zenith for being involved with soft drinks, which she complained damaged children's health. Mr Hall pointed out that good hydration helped children, that more functional soft drinks offered specific benefits and that health education needed to improve.

Mention was made of cultural links between the City and University: are there plans for the University to provide centres for concerts, conferences and large meetings that could be located in the City? Whilst we value the cultural contribution that the University makes to the City, we have no plans to create a venue.

Why will the School of Contemporary Arts be located at Swindon and not Bath? Bath Spa University College, with whom the University cooperates, provides a similar depart-ment. Funding for a new department is available for Swindon. The local Council there donated land for the University expansion. The University should inter-act more with local schools. The proposed School of Health Studies will continue existing cooperation with the Royal United Hospital and the Min. (Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases).

Why should the Green Belt land be built on when there would be plenty of room on the present site if multi-storey car parks were built? It is difficult to get planning permission and expensive to build multi-storey car parks but they might come in the future.

Carpenter House is isolated from the technical depart-ments on Claverton Down; why not site the Innovation Centre on Claverton Down site? The separation is deliberate and contact can be made with the personnel on the campus electronically. The issue between City centre residents and students over nightlife and noise is acknowledged and being tackled. Similarly, the University cannot prevent students owning or driving a car; they can only restrict them from bringing them on to the campus site.

Donald Lovell