Welcome back to everyone to a new academic year. I love the beginning of term and that sense of a fresh start. It has been wonderful to see the excitement of our new students as they arrived on campus last week (and tested out the helter-skelter in Royal Fort Gardens). As the first touchpoint of the year, these welcome fairs and induction events are a critical part of their University of Bristol experience. My thanks to the many teams who have worked extremely hard to support their arrival: this takes significant amounts of time, planning and coordination.
I am personally looking ahead to my second year in post as your Vice-Chancellor, and the opportunity to build on all that I’ve learned from you through meetings, visits and my VC surgeries. I’m delighted to start this new year with a full Executive Board in place. We spent a few days in early September with our Student Union officers imagining what the world might look like in 2045. While some of us were busy talking about implanted neural sensors allowing immediate information downloads straight to the brain, the students reminded us that sport, drama, clubs, friends and being together inside and outside the classroom will always matter – connection amongst our Bristol community is something we need to continue to invest in. We also agreed to work together to tackle some of this year’s immediate challenges including the cost-of-living, academic skills development and mental health support.
The students give us hope and there is a lot to look forward to this year. The UK is back in Horizon Europe; we opened our new Dental School, offering free appointments to local families; and the arrival of the new Isambard AI Supercomputer this summer will allow us to contribute to national and international discoveries in areas where we excel such as climate change, healthcare and the creative industries. I am also very grateful that we have, through dialogue and discussion, been able to come to agreements with our local Unions that have led to a smooth start to the year, including a joint statement with UCU. We will continue to work closely with UCU, UNISON and UNITE as we review our pay spine, workload pressures and other issues which I know are of importance to you all. We have achieved a lot together so far and will continue to work as one committed community.
Our Executive Team and I will be in touch regularly throughout the forthcoming year with opportunities for you all to reach out and share your views and issues.
Thank you all for everything you do to make the University of Bristol such a special place.
Professor Evelyn Welch
Vice-Chancellor and President