December 2013

16 December 2013- 13 Achievements from 2013

As we reach the end of term, we are also at the end of an important year for the College which saw the launching of our new strategy to take us through to 2020. The strategy is the culmination of many months of hard work on the part of staff from all departments, senior managers, and members of Council.

The launch of the strategy was marked by the Discover Our Future event in September, when over 600 members of staff came along to the Windsor Building to see the different themes of the strategy brought to life and to see how they can play a part in shaping the College’s future.

Three months later, we have already achieved a great deal. We launched our new College identity, rebranding our publications and online platforms. We have had record research grant announcements and multi-million pound funding from research councils in the Arts and Sciences, environmental science and cyber-security. We have been investing in our facilities, opening the Caryl Churchill Theatre, refurbishing the Boiler house, and opening the Student Services Centre.

From this week, a series of posters and digital displays highlight 13 achievements from 2013.  Email your comments and responses to

Whilst the strategy sets our overall course for the coming years, we still have to adapt to changes in government policy and funding priorities.  Last week, we heard that the cap on home and EU undergraduate student numbers will be lifted from 2015.  Although there is still much detail to work through, the new policy means that we may be able to implement parts of our strategy faster than expected.  In the meantime, we will remain focused on implementing the principles that underpin our ambitions – improving our campus and building our profile.

A busy year ends with Winter Graduation this week, at which we celebrate the success of our postgraduate students.

In this last message of 2013, I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and commitment this year.  I hope you enjoy a well-deserved break and I look forward to seeing you in 2014.

9 December 2013 - League Tables

Over the last two years, the Government has relaxed controls on the number of ABB+ students universities can accept, and in last Thursday’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced the lifting of all controls from 2015.  This bold move gives universities the freedom to accept as many students as they like, and, in doing so, gives all students greater freedom of choice.  It also means we’ll have to work harder than ever to prove to all prospective students that Royal Holloway is the right choice for them.

Whether you like them or not, there’s no denying that league tables have become increasingly important to students choosing a university, and are bound to get even more so when the cap on numbers is lifted.
However, leagues tables are not without controversy. Different methodologies employed can yield different outcomes for the same institution, which can be confusing for applicants and frustrating for us.

Research shows that the Guardian’s league table is the most referenced of all, with about 75% of applicants consulting the table.  We tend to fare less well in this table, since their analysis excludes research metrics; one of our key strengths.  Instead, scores returned from the National Student Survey (NSS), relating to teaching, assessment and feedback and overall satisfaction, account for 25% of the Guardian’s overall assessment.  We need to do better in these scores in order to rise in the table.

Many colleagues have worked hard to improve assessment procedures and feedback, personal tutoring and student engagement.  We have also invested other aspects of the student experience -  embedding employability into the curriculum, improving access to internships, improving planning and communication of social activities for our diverse student body, and planning for our new library.

Surveying of students for the next NSS starts in January and I hope that our efforts will bear fruit in the final outcomes.  Experience tells us that the earlier and larger the response to the NSS, the better the outcome tends to be, so we will be launching a campaign to encourage as many final year undergraduate students as possible to complete the survey as early as possible.   Academic departments play a crucial role in this and I am very grateful for their hard work, as well as the many students who have completed the survey in the past.

To illustrate the importance of the NSS, we have created an interactive league table widget, which you can use to see for yourself how a better or worse rating in the area of student experience can make to our overall ranking in the influential Guardian league table. Do take a look and see what a difference we could make to our position, and therefore to our future.

2 December 2013 - The Curiosity Project Fundraising Campaign

Our £25 million fundraising campaign, The Curiosity Project, is stepping up a gear this week, with the launch of its website and the main feature in the latest edition of Higher. This five year campaign aims to secure support from our alumni and friends for all aspects of College life, and is key to achieving the goals we set out in the College Strategy.

There are four main initiatives in the first phase of the campaign. Top of the priority list is the new library building.  The library is being designed to significantly expand the amount of study space from silent study to group work space, alongside the main library collection, archives and special collections.  The building will also be a central point for student services, bringing together the Careers and Employability Service and Student Services Centre, shop and bank.   

Alongside this exciting building project, we are seeking support for new scholarships and to make internships more accessible through a £1 million Ignition Fund, so that money is never an obstacle for the best students to join us and grasp every opportunity whilst at Royal Holloway.

Our next priority is to seek support for the renovation of our central London base, 11 Bedford Square, including refurbishment of the building and improving the staff offices and teaching spaces for departments such as Media Arts, Creative Writing and Social Work.  Bedford Square will also become the home of The Poetry Archive, a digital resource co-founded by Creative Writing Professor Sir Andrew Motion.

Finally, in tandem with our sports development programme, the fourth initiative will bolster our sports facilities, including a new 3G pitch for hockey, netball and rugby. We hope this initiative will be popular with the many alumni who enjoyed sport during their time at Royal Holloway.

I am delighted that eleven of our most high profile and well-connected alumni and friends have shown their support by joining our Cabinet of the Curious, who will oversee the campaign; I’m sure their support will encourage others to support us too. The campaign offers something for everyone – from a brick to a building; you can find out more at  

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