UCL News


Provost's Perspective: Welcome to new and returning students

2 October 2015

It is my pleasure to welcome all students to the beginning of a new academic year - a very important one for UCL, with much to do - as always.

Provost's Perspective: Welcome If you are new to UCL, a very warm welcome.

For those of you returning after the summer break, I hope you found time to recharge your batteries and that many of you also made good progress with your preparations for the new academic year.

Fresher's Week

Many of you will be heading to UCL's Welcome Fair over this coming weekend (3-4 Oct), and I hope you will find plenty to engage you in the UCL community, with 250 UCLU clubs and societies vying for your attention.

A week later, on 8-9 October, you'll have a chance to visit UCL's Big Volunteering Fair, where you can meet with over over 80 charities and student-run community projects ranging from the NSPCC and Teenage Cancer Trust to The Conservation Volunteers and Mayhew Animal Home. UCL students have a proud tradition of volunteering and community engagement, so here is your chance to join in with this.

It is the start of my third year as President and Provost of UCL, and I now feel firmly embedded in the university. I will be giving the first lecture of the regular Lunch Hour Lecture series on Tuesday 13 October, which will give me an opportunity to address 'the state of the nation' and to take stock of our achievements against our university strategy, UCL 2034, including both major strategic issues and those that are more immediate and operational.

On the same day at 5.30pm, I will be addressing students at UCL Union's (UCLU) Welcome General Meeting in Logan Hall, with a Q&A to follow, so come along to hear (and question) me in person.

Getting involved in UCLU and voting in its elections ensures your democratic representation at UCL, so I hope that you take this chance to learn more and get involved. Seven Sabbatical Officers were elected by students last Spring to lead your Union on a full-time basis this year. They each have their own portfolio of responsibilities and are your key representatives to UCL and beyond - find out who is leading your union in 2015-16.

I'd also like to draw your attention to the new UCL Academic Manual, which brings together the regulations which apply to all UCL taught and research students for 2015-16. You should use this together with the specific regulations for your programme of study as detailed in your programme handbook and/or on Moodle.

Enhancing the student experience

At the forefront of my priorities for the coming year is ensuring that UCL is continuously reviewing and improving the experience of our students while they study here. We receive feedback from students in many forms, ranging from highly specific feedback on individual academic course modules through to the results of national and international higher education surveys such as the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Student Barometer.

We are always striving to do better, and this year  I will be focusing on how we can turn feedback from these surveys - both good and bad - into new initiatives and practices that enhance student life.

One initiative that is well underway - and that you will quickly see evidenced by the building work on campus - is Transforming UCL, our ambitious plan to develop UCL's campus to meet the needs of a 21st century university.

Projects underway during 2015-2016 include the installation of a new pop up hub in the South Quad, work on a new Student Centre for UCL located on the Gordon Street side of the campus and the rebuilding of 22 Gordon Street (formally Wates House) to provide a new home for the UCL Bartlett.

Some current transformation projects will predominantly benefit future generations of students - but there are many building projects already completed within the programme that will benefit you directly, including new student hubs and the refurbishment of many academic buildings. Find out more via the Transforming UCL website.

Update the academic plan for UCL East

This year will also see significant emphasis on ensuring that two major projects continue to make excellent progress. The first of these is UCL East, UCL's future campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Led by Professor David Price (UCL's Vice-Provost, Research), we are now putting together the final touches of a plan for the first wave of academic activities that will take place at UCL East - I look forward to sharing these plans with students in the coming year.

Key to UCL's future - including the experience of future generations of students -  is our second major project for the year, the creation of a fundraising 'Campaign for UCL'. Much of the work that underlies this campaign has already been done, such as an extensive process to identify fundraising projects that align with UCL's strategy, and that would be attractive to donors. This year will see us prepare ourselves for a 2016 'public launch' of the Campaign for UCL. We don't have a formal campaign target figure as yet, but when asked this question recently, let's just say that I came up with a big number - so watch this space.

Staying connected to UCL

As returning students already know, and new starters are doubtless already noticing, there's an enormous amount going at UCL and I hope that you'll embrace all aspects of university life and take the many opportunities on offer.

myUCL, the student e-newsletter that you are reading here will be delivered to your inbox every Friday in term-time and will give you an overview of news, events, opportunities and need-to-know information about UCL - I will be addressing you through the newsletter on a monthly basis. In addition, you can engage with UCL through our social media channels. I look forward to engaging with you in many different ways in the year ahead  -  in the meantime I wish you a good start to the new term.

Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President & Provost

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