Greetings to Surrey

I have been at Surrey for three months and thought it about time to begin a more structured dialogue with the university research & innovation community.

I have now visited all academic departments, schools and major research centres in the University and have been delighted with the welcome I have received and the levels of excellence, energy and dynamism I have discovered. What a great place! It has very much been a listening and learning tour – and I am sure that my learnings have only just begun. As a physicist/engineer myself, I have been on a particularly steep learning curve in the Arts and Social Sciences space, and will no doubt continue to be stretched to properly appreciate, support, and help advance this important part of the University.

To highlight this importance, Surrey’s QS subject rankings in the top 200 globally are: Hospitality & Leisure Management 4; Nursing 51-100; Engineering – Electrical & Electronic 100-150; Psychology 151-200; and Sociology 151-200. Rankings, of course, have their strengths and shortcomings, and the QS subject rankings are no different, with their dual emphasis on reputation and performance. But they do provide useful pointers. A recurrent theme in our QS subject results is a reputation lower than we deserve according to our performance. This reminds us all of the importance of promoting our research and the University generally, a topic I will come back to in later blogs.

Why do we want to rank highly anyway? Apart from demonstrating that we are successfully undertaking research, which is a primary function of a University, or at least it has been since the mid nineteenth century, it also feeds into our attractiveness to potential students, ensuring strong recruitment – a prerequisite to running a strong and sound business. Thus, research & innovation are virtuous in their own right, but also grow reputation and, thereby, feed the virtuous circle of success in a University.

So, my priorities for the remainder of 2018 are by now well underway. They are, in a nutshell, to support the Research & Innovation elements of the Corporate Strategy, launched late last year, and implement the recommendations of the two reviews conducted early last year, on research services and on innovation. In my next blog, I will spell out these priorities in more detail.

Thanks for reading – great to be here.