Eighty years' service to the region
Jun 30 2010 by Professor Graham Henderson, Teesside University Vice-Chancellor
AS Teesside University celebrates its 80th birthday this summer and we continue to enjoy recognition as the Times Higher Education’s national University Of The Year, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our university’s continuing success.
I am delighted to be able to report that earlier this year, the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education expressed their “confidence” in both the “academic standards of our awards” and “the quality of the learning opportunities available to students”, and commended the university on a number of areas of good practice.
And, although we are experiencing tough economic times, it is clear that the combination of the outstanding progress we have made in recent years and the flexibility, maturity and resilience acquired throughout our 80-year existence has meant we have been able to remain confident and financially strong.
As a result, the university has responded to the effects of the recession by seeking to expand and diversify its activities. We have seen a number of significant recent successes in relation to further funded growth of our UK student numbers, expansion of international activity and a step change in commercial income from our business engagement and knowledge transfer activities.
However, we are not complacent and are continuing to look at ways of becoming an even more effective and efficient institution, whilst retaining a very sharp focus on enhancing the quality of service and value for money we provide to our students and other clients. We are continuing to respond to the changing needs of the local and regional economy - an approach that has led to us enjoying a national reputation on a number of fronts, not least as one of the UK’s leading universities for employer engagement.
We are also committed to continuing to invest in our staff and to providing a university environment which is consistent with our aim of becoming the UK’s leading ‘employer facing’ university.
And so, against this backdrop of a strong financial base, a significant ongoing programme of capital investment, a passionate commitment to supporting the regional economy and a growing reputation for quality and student satisfaction, we are very confident about our future, despite the difficult times ahead.
Our a reputation was enhanced when we won not only University Of The Year but also the Times Higher Education’s Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative Of The Year for our Leadership and Management Foundation Degree with the North East Chamber of Commerce.
And, as our name for quality and student satisfaction continues to grow, so does our reputation for helping to get our graduates into work, through initiatives like the Graduate Internship scheme with local businesses and the backing we give to young entrepreneurs through DigitalCity.
Indeed, the success of our Graduate Business Start Up activity led to us being recognised as the Business Incubation Champion Of The Year in 2008-09. This June we launched our 100th company through the activities of the DigitalCity Fellowship scheme.
We know that one of the strengths of the university, and its predecessors, Teesside Polytechnic and Constantine College, has been its commitment to the community. We pride ourselves on the strong partnerships we have established with a range of organisations such as local schools and further education colleges, the business community, local authorities, the health service and the police, and we fully recognise the need to work even more closely with them in the future.
And the success of our financial strategy has enabled us to generate the financial surpluses necessary to continue to invest in the university’s estate and infrastructure for the benefit of our students, partners and staff.
This ongoing investment has recently seen £17m invested in the new Centuria South Building for dental training and sports therapy, £3.5m in two new higher education centres in Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland, which will admit their first students this autumn, £13m invested in our new Darlington campus, which is set to open in a year’s time, and planning and design work underway for a further £18m new building on the university’s campus in Middlesbrough.
These new developments will not only see the university having a significantly enhanced campus in Middlesbrough, and an embryonic new campus in Darlington, but will also move us to a position where the university will have a university centre in all of the general FE colleges across the five Tees Valley boroughs.
This is an important milestone in the pursuit of our aim of making higher education easily accessible to everyone within the Tees Valley, North Yorkshire and South Durham.
These developments, and the results of the audit from the Quality Assurance Agency, give us confidence in the University’s future and, despite the obvious, and growing, challenges ahead, we believe we can, and will, go forward to even greater success in the future.
Many of our future students will be people in work wishing to study part time on shorter courses than three-year full-time honours degrees, and part-time provision has been a hallmark of Teesside University and its predecessors over 80 years.
It is a provision we are committed to expanding in the future, and we are in the vanguard of universities which not only recognise that 70% of the 2020 workforce are already in the workplace but also that most will need to up-skill or re-skill to meet the needs of the emerging business sectors and the modern, technology-led economy.
We are determined to do everything we can to equip all of our students, whether full time or part time, with the best business-ready attributes and skills to enable them to succeed in their future lives.
So, I honestly believe it is a sign of the success and maturity of our 80 years that we continue to go from strength to strength and we look forward to greater achievements in the future, whilst maintaining our absolute commitment to striving to meet the changing needs of the regional economy.