Mary Stuart

mstuart

Professor Mary Stuart is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Open University, where she obtained her Doctorate in Social Policy in 1998. Her research interests are focused on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development.


Every year offers its own unique challenges to society, and as each new year rolls around I find myself contemplating how we can use the expertise we have at Lincoln to help the community we serve.

As a 21st Century university we have the responsibility, capability, and opportunity to support the community we live and work in by solving pressing issues ranging from helping businesses adapt to technological change, to boosting the health of local people, improving education and training and developing new civic leaders in fields from politics to the arts – this is why we are leading universities in the development of Civic University Agreements, pledging to put Lincoln and Lincolnshire always at the top of our list of priorities.

This year we have worked closely with our Further Education partners across the Greater Lincolnshire area to support a new Institute of Technology to help educate and train people across the county in new emerging technologies. This will support businesses in towns across the county working with FE colleges, giving the University a presence in lots of our towns, supporting young people and our business communities up and down Greater Lincolnshire.

Our responsibilities also have a global reach, as the world-leading research we have developed in Lincolnshire effects change on a tangible level in some of the vital areas of need, locally, nationally and internationally.

The global food chain is under pressure from population growth, climate change, pressures affecting migration, population drift from rural to urban regions, and the demographics of an ageing population in advanced economies. To answer some of those pressures, in February we created the world’s first Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for agri-food robotics in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia.

This new advanced training centre, which is training the first cohort of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) specialists for the global food and farming sectors, was created after Lincoln’s excellence in this field was recognised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to do further work in this area.

It enables us do one of the things we are most proud of as a university: tackle global issues through excellent research in partnership with those in industry who will directly benefit from the advances we make. We have created the UK’s first global centre of excellence in agri-robotics research to bring together world-leading expertise in robotics, artificial intelligence and agriculture, based on the site of the university’s working farm.

We have also grown our world-leading research into other vital challenges for society in Lincolnshire and beyond, such as the challenging environment of our health service and the health of our society. We are also addressing business needs in advanced technologies, questions of sustainability and water and soil health and enhancing our environment.

Our commitment to serving our communities is being delivered through the first cohort of medical school students to start their degree studies at Lincoln in September. The medicine course is delivered in partnership with the University of Nottingham, supported by local health trusts, and will address shortages of doctors by offering first class training that will encourage graduates to complete their junior doctor training locally and apply for jobs in the region. We have also grown the provision for nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and paramedics to support the skills shortages in the health service.

Along with this investment into the local skills pool, we have also invested in the campus itself and are currently building our new Lincoln Medical School building due to open in 2021 – we have ambitions for this to be our most sustainable building to date on campus. Earlier this year we joined with other organisations and institutions across the world to declare a climate emergency.

This challenge must be taken seriously if, as a global community, this threat is to be confronted. This will not be easy and we will not always get it right but it will, as it should in a university, be informed by research and science to help us make the best decisions. Our researchers are also working on the global scale, advancing understanding of the causes of extreme weather events internationally, the scale of Greenland ice sheet melting, and addressing what is required to develop good international environmental law.

Our university can only achieve these ambitions through the dedication of our staff, our students, and the businesses, organisations and individuals who support us, particularly in our city, county and region.

As a university our inclination is always to look ahead and I know that next year will present new challenges and opportunities for us all – we are excited to take on those challenges.

I wish you all happiness, peace and success in 2020. Thank you again to everyone for their continued support.

Professor Mary Stuart is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Open University, where she obtained her Doctorate in Social Policy in 1998. Her research interests are focused on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development.

2018 has been a great year for the whole community at the University of Lincoln, peppered with successes and celebrations. We are also deeply grateful to the people in our county who have supported us this year. At the University of Lincoln we are just as passionate about our region as we are about our students and staff.

The year began with our official opening the Isaac Newton Building, the new home to our Schools of Engineering, Computer Science, and Maths and Physics. We were honoured to welcome Professor Sir Mark Walport, the UK’s most senior scientist to the ribbon cutting ceremony which marked the latest development in the growth of our science and engineering capabilities at the university and supporting our Engineering and Science businesses in the region.

In March, our ambitions, along with the whole community’s, to launch a medical school for Lincolnshire were realised when we, along with our partners at the University of Nottingham, won a bid for a new School of Medicine. A medical school for Lincolnshire is such an important milestone not only for the university, but for the county and means that for the first time, we will be able to train the next generation of doctor’s right here in Lincolnshire, starting in September next year, 2019.

The project was endorsed General Medical Council, who regulate the teaching of doctors in universities to ensure they are trained well. They praised the forward thinking approach to the landmark project as well as the thought and consideration that had been put into its development. Plans are now underway to construct a state-of-the-art medical school building at our Brayford Pool campus. This exciting step will provide a purpose-built home for the new school’s staff and students as well as bolstering the health and science focused facilities we already have in place, ready for our first cohort.

The year has also been one of league table successes. In April, we were ranked in the top 50 in the Complete University Guide, an independent table ranking 131 UK Universities. May saw an unprecedented rise of 25 places to 22nd in the Guardian University Guide, and in July, feedback from our students placed us at 7th in the UK for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey.

We have long been proud of the excellent student experience Lincoln offers and these latest league table results serve as a testament to the quality of teaching, learning and research that is on offer here, accolades which we share with our wonderful Lincolnshire community.

Another exciting development for the university came in August, when we launched our MA in Creative Writing and Publishing in partnership with The Guardian media group. The new programme offers students a unique and valuable experience, bringing together expert teaching from staff from the University’s School of English and Journalism as well as insight from industry professionals, preparing students for a writing career in the world of 21st century publishing. The partnership is another part of our strategy to raise the profile of the university nationally and internationally to enhance the reputation of our region.

The final months of the year have not been without success. In October, it was announced that we had been ranked in the top 30 UK institutions in the Table of Tables, a prestigious table which combines the results of all the UK main domestic university league table rankings in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, The Guardian University Guide and The Complete University Guide.

It has been a bumper year for Lincoln, and I wish to recognise that these achievements have been driven by the hard work and dedication of colleagues across the university as well as our students, who continually strive for excellence throughout their time with us, and indeed the support of our communities.

Next year will present new challenges and opportunities for us all and I wish you all happiness, peace and success in 2019. Thank you again to everyone for their continued support.

Professor Mary Stuart is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Open University, where she obtained her Doctorate in Social Policy in 1998. Her research interests are focused on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development.

The red letter day in the diary of most universities in 2017 was June’s publication of the outcome of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The University of Lincoln was awarded Gold – the highest standard possible – in this national assessment. We pride ourselves on the quality of our teaching, the student experience, and our graduates’ outcomes.

Our TEF Gold award is national recognition of these qualities. Lincoln was in the top quarter of all higher education institutions entering the TEF to be awarded a Gold rating. The whole county can be proud that both the city’s universities received this prestigious status.

We had started 2017 in the closing stages of three major capital projects: The Isaac Newton Building, home to all our Engineering, Computer Science, and Maths and Physics students and staff; a brand new facility for our Schools of Health and Social Care and Psychology in the form of the Sarah Swift Building; and adding extra flats to our on-campus student accommodation through our Cygnet Wharf residential complex.

Investments such as these help us to create the environment where our academic community can continue to flourish by providing staff and students with the infrastructure – physical and virtual – they need for excellent teaching and research to take place.
 
We began moving into the Isaac Newton Building in the spring. Its completion represents the latest in a series of major new developments to support our growth in science and engineering capabilities, which started with the construction of the Engineering Hub in collaboration with Siemens eight years ago.

It is fitting that the Isaac Newton Building is named in honour of perhaps the greatest scientific mind of all time, and one of Lincolnshire’s own, and we hope to inspire future generations of pioneering thinkers to follow in Newton’s footsteps. The fact the official opening was led by the UK’s most senior scientist, Sir Mark Walport, is testament to the national significance of this strategic investment in our region’s science base.

The Sarah Swift Building is another significant new addition to our campus, and we officially opened that building earlier this month with special guest Dr Michael Mosley. It will further bolster our ability to teach the next generation of healthcare professionals needed in our NHS, provide state of the art facilities for all our students, and help us further develop our high quality health research.

The building has been named in honour of Lincolnshire-born Dame Sarah Swift, another visionary from our county, who made such a remarkable contribution to nursing education and professional standards.

Over the coming year, we will see a suite of new health courses rolled out, including an undergraduate degree in Paramedic Science and a postgraduate course in Physiotherapy, with more health related courses coming in September 2018.

We have also supported the development of the International Bomber Command Centre by seeking out, collating and digitising material that will be presented in the building, which will be available online as a digital archive later in 2018.

More than 3,000 of our latest group of undergraduates to complete their studies are now taking their next steps onto the career ladder after we said goodbye and good luck to them at our graduation ceremonies in September.

Just a few weeks later, we welcomed our largest ever cohort of first year undergraduates starting their university journey. This included the first entrants to our new School of Geography, which adds to the range of new science disciplines at Lincoln. The Royal Geographical Society called its creation one of the most significant investments in UK university Geography for a generation.

As well as teaching successes and development of our campus and facilities, 2017 has also been a celebration of arts and heritage. In November, we supported the latest instalment of Frequency Festival which showcased an extraordinary programme of digital art exhibitions, bespoke installations, live performance and energetic debate.

Frequency is now a highlight of Lincoln’s cultural calendar and this year’s Festival took the theme of Displacement, inspired by the 800-year anniversary of the sealing of the Charter of the Forest, the ‘sister’ document of the Magna Carta. The city of Lincoln was once again the focus of national and international attention on its remarkably rich heritage, as the only place in the world originals of both charters can be viewed side-by-side.

Our historians were part of the effort to tell this story and its equally compelling pretext – the Battle of Lincoln. This included describing the vital role played by Lady Nicola de la Haye, the female castellan of Lincoln Castle, proclaimed ‘the woman who saved England’ by some historians for her role repelling the invading French armies at this pivotal battle in our Medieval History.

This synergy of the ancient and the modern, and the pioneering and often buccaneering spirit of its people down the centuries, is what makes Lincoln and Lincolnshire such a fascinating place to live, study and work.

Constant change seems to be the only thing that stays the same from one year to the next – but even as we face up to uncertain times ahead – the distant and recent past suggests we can look forward with optimism and excitement.

Professor Mary Stuart is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Open University, where she obtained her Doctorate in Social Policy in 1998. Her research interests are focused on life histories, social mobility, higher education students and community development.

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