When I counted up the number of Christmas Markets I’ve attended, I just realised that I have been in Lincoln for seven years. For Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) 2019 was the busiest of the seven by far. I am still enjoying every minute of living here and of serving both in BGU and in the magnificent Cathedral; it is great to see it illuminated again.
Last year we concluded our first BGU corporate strategic plan and prepared for the development of the next, which takes us to 2025. One of the comments made at our consultation events struck me which was that, although various aspects of our work were known throughout Lincolnshire, some stakeholders didn’t have a grasp of the full scope of our offering. They saw the individual projects but did not see them as part of an integrated whole.
Like all universities, our purpose is broadly to provide an excellent experience for our students encompassing high quality teaching and learning, underpinned by research and knowledge exchange. But the institution is also a resource for the community and the whole of the city. We continue to work in partnership with a range of organisations which share our values.
When BGU was established in 1862 it was to provide education for the people of Lincolnshire. This remains central to what we are about but our focus has broadened and our portfolio now includes a wide range of subjects covering business, the social sciences and the humanities.
During 2019 we saw the completion of several major externally funded projects that reflect the breadth of our ambition as an institution. They provide benefits for the economy, commerce and communities as well as adding value to the learning experience of our students. Through them BGU has engaged with over 1,000 different business partners.
The Specialist Teaching Programme delivered an accredited, fully funded intensive ‘train to teach’ course to 266 local industry experts. Designed to improve labour-market relevance, it equipped participants with the skills to deliver ‘masterclasses’ to students at local further education and independent training providers.
In June, the Lincolnshire Open Research and Innovation Centre (LORIC) came to the end of its period of support from the European Regional Development Fund. By providing bespoke data-driven business solutions and services, LORIC worked with small and medium-sized enterprises across the county. We have invested in the continuation of this work.
The Specialist Skills Programme was funded by the European Social Fund and the UK’s Education and Skills Funding Agency. It delivered training needs analyses to 670 businesses.
Finally the three-year European Social Fund and Big Lottery funded MOVE project has been extended to June 2022 to continue support for the long-term unemployed or the economically inactive.
So, as you can see, one of the main reasons that the past seven years have flown by is because of the variety of the work that we do. No two years, indeed no two days, are the same.
As I look forward to next year my big hope is for some stability in the world, in the country, in the city and in the higher education sector. What gives me hope for the future of education and our contribution to it is the continued focus on working together in the spirit of purposeful collaboration.
Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2020.