Reflections: Peter Neil – Evolution, not revolution, at BGU

For Bishop Grosseteste University the year 2015 was a significant one. It was the year in which we started to see the first results of our new five-year strategy benefiting our students, staff and local communities.

As an institution we have been offering high quality courses of higher education on this site in Lincoln since 1862, and we are constantly evolving to improve the BGU experience and our contribution to the development of the city.

We have introduced several new courses this year – Archaeology, Business, Counselling, Health and Social Care, Sociology – which are now up and running, together with several at masters level in English, History and Theology.

We have invested over £1m in transforming Constance Stewart Hall (the 1950s building visible from the Newport roundabout) into eight state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces of various sizes to accommodate different styles of teaching and learning.

Our School of Teacher Development continues to provide high calibre graduates both in more traditional university based learning and more modern school led partnerships. This year the provision was inspected by Ofsted and we are waiting for the results of this, but the experience of the review process was a positive one.

Following a very pleasing outcome in the national Research Excellence Framework exercise last year, in which we were rated world leading and internationally excellent in the three areas of Education, English and History, we continue to invest in research and are focusing on specific areas such as Children and Young People; Identity, Culture and Communication; Public Policy and Professional Practice in Education; Transitions in Higher Education and Wellbeing and Resilience. We are currently advertising six PhD studentships in these areas.

As part of our research we organised the first international research conference on the work of George Meredith, who was a well-regarded Victorian novelist and poet.

BGU will be building on its strengths in research and enterprise development, to create a stronger focus on connecting our research, innovation and enterprise with the community. Our partnerships in the local community continue as we work with schools, businesses and voluntary organisations.

We set up a Centre for Autism to provide an original focus as a centre for excellence for education, training, research and consultancy and to strengthen links with the NHS.

The Venue, our on campus cinema has attracted large crowds; this year they attended Hamlet live-streamed from the National Theatre, the Nutcracker ballet, Take That and a live performance by Noel Gallagher. It also offers a wide variety of the latest films throughout the year, a favourite this year has been Suffragette.

A highlight of the year was the first ever Matriculation Ceremony held in Lincoln Cathedral on October 8, which is Bishop Robert Grosseteste’s day. This was an opportunity for our new students to be welcomed to Lincoln and to the BGU community as soon as they arrived. It also showcased one of Lincoln’s most recognisable landmarks and reinforced the strong links BGU has with the Cathedral.

In 2016 the exciting challenges continue, kicking off with a whole-scale review of our provision conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency in a Higher Education Review which will examine our processes and procedures, highlighting our strengths and areas for improvement. We will be continuing our preparations leading up to Christmas, with a short break for the staff Christmas dinner.

Next year we will be offering additional courses such as Sport, an MA TESOL and our single honours degree in Psychology will be reviewed by the British Psychological Society.

My New Year’s Resolution

My personal new year’s resolution is ‘to get out more’. Last year I spent the grand total of £34.90 on petrol, but having a chapel, a gym, a refectory, Curiositea and a cinema on campus, with the veterinary hospital across the road for my cats, I have to find a good excuse to travel; my trips out tend to centre on the excellent restaurants the city has to offer, all within walking distance. Now that I have been in Lincoln for three years, I think I need to explore and discover more of Lincolnshire’s hidden gems.

The Rev’d Canon Professor Peter Neil is Vice Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln and a Canon of Lincoln Cathedral.