Your support continues to be a key part of our success as we endeavour to shape a university that is fit for the future and one you continue to be proud of, so I feel it is important to outline how we are meeting the challenges ahead.
The University will be starting the next academic year with a new look. Following an extensive consultation, last month the University Council approved plans to move from eight to five faculties. The re-shaping of our faculty structure is the latest part of our 10-Year Plan which began with the successful issuing of a £300m bond in April last year, putting us in a strong position to invest in our facilities and infrastructure.
This latest phase of our 10-Year Plan is driven by the need to ensure the University further strengthens its position as a world-leading, research-led institution that continues to attract the very best students and staff. We are confident these changes will enhance the University’s reputation in an increasingly challenging sector.
I don’t think we have ever seen the level of change that the UK higher education sector is currently facing. The University has had to react to that; we cannot afford to stand still.
The new structure will provide much better coherence and enhance our ability to work with colleagues across disciplines, while providing a more agile response to research and student demands. A simple example of how the new structure will allow us to do this is the fact that we will create one of the country’s largest Engineering and Physical Science faculties. This will have many benefits, not least recognising our strengths within the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and enhancing interdisciplinary working. We believe the faculties will also be strengthened by more aligned professional services as we are effectively providing more support with the same resources and avoiding duplication by working across five faculties instead of eight.
I would like to stress particularly to you, our alumni, who are a vital part of the University community, that we hope to achieve this change with the minimum amount of disruption. Most of our subjects are moving into the new faculties as a whole, something we have described as a ‘lift and shift’ approach.
I think we are sending out a much clearer message about how we are organised and what we can offer as we build on our reputation as a leading research-intensive institution.
There will inevitably be challenges to overcome on the road ahead, but we have set out a clear vision of where we want to be and how we plan to get there. I hope to be able to share with you more of our plans over the course of the year as we look ahead to developing our world-leading facilities in which our students and academics can continue to flourish and be proud.
The new structure in detail
In an effort to ensure there is a continuity of leadership, the University Council also agreed that current Deans should continue until their respective terms of office come to an end, after which a formal appointment will take place.
Three of our Deans – Professor Iain Cameron, Professor Anne Curry, and Professor William Powrie – have terms of office which end ahead of the new structure coming into force on August 1. We are grateful for their leadership and wide-ranging contributions to the University and their faculties over many years.
Under the new look, the existing subjects would be grouped as follows:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Dean: Professor Paul Whittaker
(Archaeology; English; Film; History; Modern Languages; Music; Philosophy; Academic Centre for International Students; Winchester School of Art; the Parkes Institute and the Confucius Institute)
Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Dean: Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi
(Aeronautics; Astronautics and Computational Engineering; Chemistry; Chemical Engineering (new); Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering; Electronics and Computer Science; Institute of Sound and Vibration Research; Mechanical Engineering; Physics & Astronomy; Optoelectronics Research Centre; Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute; Web Science Institute; the Zepler Institute)
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Dean: Professor Rachel Mills
(Biological Sciences; Environmental Sciences; Geography and Environment; Ocean and Earth Science; Health Sciences; Psychology; Institute for Life Sciences; Institute of Environment and Sustainability (new)
Faculty of Medicine
An international recruitment search is well underway to find a successor for Professor Iain Cameron, who retires as Dean at the end of July
(No change: Cancer Sciences; Clinical and Experimental Sciences; Human Development and Health; Medical Education; Primary Care and Population Sciences; the Centre for Cancer Immunology; MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit; Wessex Institute)
Faculty of Social Sciences
Dean: Professor Jane Falkingham
(Social Sciences; Southampton Business School; Southampton Education School; Southampton Law School; Mathematical Sciences; the Centre for Higher Education Practice; Public Engagement with Research (Unit); Public Policy@Southampton; Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute)
The detailed development of the new faculties will continue in the coming months and arising out of the consultation process will be the formation of Schools and departments which will go before the University’s Council for approval in March.
We will be keeping you updated with how the new structure is progressing, particularly when we start the next academic year with our new look.
I am excited about the opportunities that this new structure will bring for our entire University community and look forward to sharing those successes with you.