UWE Bristol climbs to 28th in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2020

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has climbed to its highest ever position into the top 30 in the Guardian university league table, with its fourth consecutive rise up the table. Moving up 9 places from last year, the University is now ranked 28th out of 121 UK institutions in the newspaper’s latest annual guide for students. Business and Management courses at UWE have also gone up an impressive 29 places since last year.

A continued strong performance in the National Student Survey (NSS), achieving its highest ever result of 89%, and an increase in spend per student have helped the University rise to 28th in the 2020 guide, and 4th in the south west.

UWE Bristol has been ranked 2nd in the country for the satisfaction with course score, 6th in the country for its value-added score, which compares students’ degree results with their entry qualifications to show how effectively they have been taught, and 10th for satisfaction with teaching.

The Guardian league table focuses on the quality of teaching, student satisfaction and employability. Compiled by independent company Intelligent Metrix, the guide ranks universities according to: spending per student; the student/staff ratio; graduate career prospects; what grades applicants need to get a place; the value-added score; and how satisfied final-year students are with their course, based on results from the annual NSS. The rankings also contain a continuation score based on the percentage of first-year students continuing to a second year. The overall Guardian league table is accompanied by subject rankings, showing how universities perform across 54 areas of study.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said:

“I’m so proud to be continuing our steady rise through the Guardian University Guide rankings this year, and it’s even more meaningful given that it’s partly due to our students giving us our highest ever student satisfaction result in the National Student Survey. This rise is a real reflection of the scale of our ambitions for the future, including further investment in services and facilities across all our campuses.

“This is an absolutely fantastic achievement for our University and is a real testament to all of our incredibly hard-working and committed staff, who always ensure that the student experience is at the heart of everything we do.”

Find out more about UWE Bristol’s rankings and reputation and view other UWE news stories.

Study Abroad Case Study: Edina – BA International Business student

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The exciting adventures of Edina

The below blog post has been co-authored by Edina Opoczki (BA International Business student) and Hayley Iovannelli- International Recruitment Manager for the Faculty of Business and Law.

Hi! My name is Edina and I’m currently studying the International Business programme here, at UWE Bristol. Now I’m in my final year, I decided to continue my studies overseas as part of the ‘Study Abroad’ scheme. I chose to study at one of UWE’s partner institutions (ESSCA) as it provided me with the opportunity to study in two countries; Angers (a city in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) southwest of Paris) and I’m currently in Shanghai, China.

It has been an interesting journey so far, and I wanted to share my experiences to help anyone who may be thinking about doing this.

Things I now know (that I did not know before)

I spent a lot of time researching the institution and the area in France and China. But, as I discovered, there’s always more you can and should do!

Here are my top tips:

  • Try to learn a bit of the language before you go – not everyone will speak English and if you can speak even the basics this will really help. And your language skills will evolve as you’ll have lots of opportunities to speak with other students.
  • Find out about the local amenities and services – I needed a dentist quite urgently when I was in France and it just wasn’t something I’d considered before, so well worth finding out about local English speaking amenities
  • Work out your budget – some areas are more cost effective than others so it’s worth scoping out the different places to live and eat
  • Reach out and speak to students who have done this before – they can give you valuable information about what to expect, places to visit to really make the most out of your time there
  • Be prepared for the cultural differences – find out the basics about how you should meet and greet people, restaurant etiquette, tipping etc. as each country is different
  • Enjoy yourself! – take every opportunity to explore, discover, practice the language and make the most of it!

Things I wish I had done differently

While I was in Angers during my first semester, I felt like I was missing out on the opportunity to make close friendships with the other international students because I found my accommodation privately rather than staying in the dormitory where most of the students were. On the other hand, in terms of money – value proposition, my room seemed to be the better option and that is why I choose it in the end.

When preparing to head out to Shanghai, the only thing I wish I had done even more before arriving was saving up money for travelling around the country. Life in Shanghai is more expensive than in Bristol so be prepared. Travelling around this huge country is costly and time-consuming because of the distances so I would advise everyone planning to study in Shanghai to save up as much as you can.

Why France and China?

The reason why I chose France to study is because I wanted to make sure I can build more international experience through my ‘Year Abroad’ scheme and France just seemed to be one of the perfect locations to do so. My goal was to live in a country which is a founding member of the EU and is totally different from the UK in terms of culture.

China has always been one of those destinations I have been dreaming about ever since I was a child. When I found out ESSCA has a campus in Shanghai I was beyond happy. China for me is the Rome of business world where all businesses leads to China. Because of the nature of my international business studies, I wanted to further build my experiences in a country taking a lead of newness, innovation and world trade.

How do I find my way around in Shanghai?

Before I came to China, I already downloaded multiple apps on my phone, saved all important addresses both in English and Chinese, made sure I always had a copy of UWE Travel Insurance on my phone and I already familiarized myself with the metro lines. There are several websites and apps you can take advantage of, and these are the ones that I found to be the most helpful:

  • TripAdvisor (guidance when visiting other cities)
  • Bon App! (like TA but more complex with local metro map)
  • SmartShanghai (detailed list of services, shops, information about SH)
  • Moovit (navigation app)
  • Sherpa’s (food delivery)
  • Epermarket (online supermarket for Western style grocery shopping)

This list is not full and there are many other apps and websites available.

How did I develop personally and professionally during ‘Study Abroad’?

‘Study Year Abroad’ allows me to further extend my knowledge and experience on the following topics: cross-cultural management, international human resources, international marketing, artificial intelligence, the energy sector, old and contemporary European and Chinese history and politics, the European Union, French and Chinese languages, doing business in China and many more.

As well as personal development, I have gained and further extended my academic skills and abilities. Both France and China have prepared me to take on the next challenges. I believe, with cultural awareness my ability to adapt to change of circumstances and openness for newness has prepared me to gain new experiences and makes me brave enough to apply for international jobs in the future.

UWE Bristol wins Guardian Award for Equity Programme

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We were delighted to be finalists at this year’s Guardian University Awards but are over the moon to have actually won! This award means so much to everyone who’s been involved in developing and delivering the Equity Programme ever since our first pilot event in October 2016. It’s been a long and sometimes challenging journey to introduce a progressive positive action scheme like this. Working with students, local employers and national diversity thought leaders, we’ve created something which the University can be really proud of and which offers BAME students a chance to leverage leadership and enterprise skills as they embark upon their graduate careers. 

The Equity programme has 4 pillars: 1-2-1 mentoring, identity and leadership coaching, enterprise education workshops and large evening networking and guest speaker events. National statistics on the performance and progression of ethnic minorities in the labour market (as highlighted by the MacGregor Smith Race in the Workplace Review 2017) have to change and we are proud to be leading the way on the role universities can play in this regard. Finally, we want to thank every facilitator and the external guests who attend our events and enrich our student experience.

Equity evening events run throughout the academic year and are open to the public to attend. We warmly encourage alumni to consider attending the evening events to give our students networking opportunities as well as being part of the collective challenge to diversify the talent pipeline. To find out more please visit www.uwe.ac.uk/equityor email raceequality@uwe.ac.uk

Post written by Dr Zainab Khan- Equity Programme Lead

Scale up scheme to offer businesses in the West funding and support from leading experts

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S4G (Scale Up 4 Growth), a brand new programme that launched mid-November, brings together experts from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), NatWest and law firm Foot Anstey, to deliver grant funding and relevant, high quality support and training to West of England businesses with ambitious growth plans.

The scheme is open to businesses in any sector that want to grow and scale up their business. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Grants of £10,000 to £40,000 are available to help address the challenges that West of England businesses face when growing and scaling up their operations. The grants will cover 37.5% of growth projects’ costs.

From January, leadership and business experts from UWE Bristol, as well as legal and finance professionals from Foot Anstey and NatWest will conduct a series of fully funded workshops and provide targeted support through one-to-one sessions. These workshops and one-to-ones will help businesses address the challenges they face in growing or ‘scaling up’, such as how to increase leadership capacity, finding a talented workforce, increasing sales, expanding infrastructure and accessing finance.

Robin Halpenny, who leads the S4G programme at UWE Bristol said: “S4G is an exciting and unique offering for businesses, as it is rare to find a scheme that offers one-to-one sessions from experts combined with workshops, as well as the option to get funding in order to grow.”

Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said: “The scheme aims to stimulate the regional economy by helping successful, fast-growth companies in the West of England make that next step up, to realise their full potential and overcome the barriers to getting on to that next rung of the ladder in terms of growth.”

Matt Hatcher, NatWest Director of Commercial Banking in the South West, said: “NatWest runs the largest fully funded accelerator programme in the world and over the last three years more than 5,000 entrepreneurs have been supported by one of our 12 regional Entrepreneur Accelerators to grow and scale-up their businesses.

“In the South West this year, we’ve provided funding of nearly £3bn to SMEs and S4G is a perfect fit with the development of our scale-up proposition, which aims to help even more local companies. The partnership allows us to reach more businesses across the region so we can support them with the funding and sector specific help then need to grow their business.”

Nathan Peacey, Partner at Foot Anstey, said: “Foot Anstey has been on its own incredible growth journey in recent years so we really understand the challenges and opportunities that businesses face from our own personal experience.

Our team can provide insights and the right level of legal expertise across a whole range of areas to businesses when they need it.”

S4G will run until 2021. For more information and to submit an application for the scheme, please visit www.scaleup4growth.co.uk 

Case study: Shaping minimum wage policy

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Felix Ritchie’s research on the minimum wage.

Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Research conducted at Bristol Business School on the UK’s minimum wage has significantly influenced how the government sets its rates for entry-level pay. By helping shape policy decisions, and redesigning some national surveys about pay, the work has led to direct impact on the wider community.

“Wage levels are extremely important – the difference of a few pence on a wage may be negligible to an employer, but for someone on the breadline working 40 hours per week, this can make a big difference,” says Dr Felix Ritchie who leads the research.

Dr Ritchie is Director of the University’s Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF) and is an authority on non-compliance with the minimum wage in the UK and on the quality and use of labour market data.

He and UWE Bristol colleagues Dr Hilary Drew and Dr Helen Mortimore (both Human Resource Management experts) have worked extensively with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Low Pay Commission (LPC). Their work has looked to establish whether results from national surveys on minimum wage paint a true picture of the minimum wage landscape. This in turn allows governments to monitor more accurately how the rate affects employment.

The team has discovered that survey results on minimum wage often do not tell the whole story. Based on statistical analysis and interviews, they have found that both employers and employees tend to round up or reduce rates to the nearest whole number when answering survey questions about pay.

This means that a wage set at, say, £7.05 can lead employees to report it as £7 on a survey, which inaccurately implies employer non-compliance. And if the wage level is below a whole number (e.g. £6.93), the employer tends to round up the figure, meaning statistics inaccurately show a higher number of employers paying over the minimum wage.

Based on these findings, Dr Ritchie and his colleagues have made a recommendation to set a rate that is easier to use in calculations. In 2014, this directly influenced the government’s decision to set the wage at £6.50, which subsequently had a direct impact on how employers reported their pay in surveys, and led to more accurate statistics.

The researchers have also found that employers who are non-compliant in paying the minimum wage – especially when remunerating apprentices – often do so unintentionally because of a lack of knowledge about wage structure. For instance, minimum wages are usually based on age, but employers are sometimes unaware that apprentices over 18 are eligible for a higher wage once they complete their first year of training.

“Apprentices trust Employers, who think they are doing the right thing but many don’t know or understand the rules. This means that if something goes wrong, there may be no mechanism for correcting errors,” explains Dr Ritchie.

The experts also found that while surveys indicated that up to 40% of apprentices appeared to be underpaid, the true figure was closer to 10-15%. Based on interviews with apprentices, the team attributed this inaccuracy to the poor survey wording. Dr Hilary Drew explains: “We found that the apprentices had problems filling information in, and we wouldn’t have known this just by looking at the statistics.”

The team therefore suggested ways to modify the questionnaire with more accessible questions so results would better represent apprentices’ knowledge of hours and pay. This was implemented in a brand new survey.

Overall, the team has developed an excellent reputation in the area of wage level statistical analysis. As a result, the LPC and other organisations often call on Dr Ritchie and colleagues as experts to comment on minimum wage policy.

 

Case study: Claiming back our data

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. The first case study looks at Professor Glenn Parry’s research on personal data. Written by Jeremy Allen: 

In a world where we are generating more and more data using online maps, on social media and soon in our homes through the Internet of Things (IoT), Professor Glenn Parry wants to help individuals take control of their personal data.

“Our goal is a lofty one: we are trying to revolutionise the world of personal data and change global data business models from company-controlled to personal controlled data,” he says.

The information we give out on a daily basis creates a stream of personal statistics that subsequently becomes an asset for big corporations like Apple or Facebook.

Professor Parry argues that we should at least be able to retain a copy of our data and be in a position to make it work for us. By collating all our data sets in one place, he and other partners have developed the Hub of All Things (HAT). The digital platform can capture a cross-section of all our activities in cyberspace pertaining to shopping habits, photographs, travel modes etc. that can be linked to specific points in time.

“The HAT helps you manage and organise your data, combine it how you want and decide how to share it with others,” says Parry. “HAT will give you back some control of your own data, letting you decide what to share, with whom and how much detail they receive.”

Increasingly, individuals will produce more data due to the IoT, whereby our household appliances are likely to be connected to the internet.

To determine some of the data that the IoT could generate and re-enforce why it is increasingly important for us to control our own information, Professor Parry and colleagues have conducted experiments in their homes, as part of their research.

Taking bathrooms as a place where there are lots of ‘things’ that can generate data, the researchers set up humidity sensors, movement sensors in towels, motion and light sensors, and scanned shampoo bottles regularly to determine how much of its contents had been consumed.

Experiments helped indicate when we shower, for how long, how much water we consume, how often we use towels and how external factors affect all this data.

One area of Professor Parry’s ongoing research with the HAT involves examining how individuals perceive their vulnerability in cyberspace. By analysing how people perceive risk, he has been able to create a measure of this perception. “People give away quite a lot: a large group tends to underestimate the risk, while many others are aware of the risk yet embrace it,” says the academic.

He advises that there are ways to stop giving away our data and that we can therefore turn off a lot of what is broadcast out. One option is to turn off the location setting on our smartphone. Another is to be vigilant when downloading free apps, as by agreeing to terms and conditions we often open up our contacts list or divulge our location to third parties.

“Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, people are starting to understand how data can be misused but many are still unaware of the dangers. Our research highlights that our information should be in the hands of individuals, and by working together we can create better e-business models,” says Professor Parry.

He and his colleagues are also working on other business models that could bring good to society. For instance, they are looking at how the technology behind cryptocurrencies – the Block Chain – might be used to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“The future doesn’t have to be like Blade Runner, it could be more of a utopian future where technology works with us and could perhaps even stop us polluting the seas and help us live a cleaner, healthier life,” says Professor Parry.

UWE Bristol moves into top 10 in UK for student satisfaction

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The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has climbed into the top 10 universities in the UK for student satisfaction.

Results from the latest National Student Survey (NSS) have revealed a record 89 per cent of UWE Bristol final year students were satisfied with their course overall, an increase of one percentage point on 2017.

The rise – the fourth consecutive annual increase recorded at the University – comes as the average overall satisfaction score across the higher education sector dipped from 84 per cent to 83 per cent.

UWE Bristol is now the highest ranked university for overall student satisfaction of all 18 institutions in the University Alliance, a group of British universities focused on technical and professional education.

Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said: “I’m absolutely delighted our overall score has increased to 89 per cent. This is outstanding in its own right and even more impressive in a year where the sector has declined to 83 per cent.

“This is a really tremendous achievement and one that has only been achieved by hard work, focus and a genuinely collaborative effort.”

The 2018 National Student Survey, carried out by the Office for Students and the UK higher education funding bodies, captured the views of more than 320,000 students

The annual survey sees students reflect on their time at university, offering their verdict on topics ranging from teaching and assessment to resources and academic support. It was introduced in 2005 to help inform the choices of prospective students and assist universities in enhancing student experience.

In this year’s results, UWE Bristol’s scores were above the UK average on 26 of the 27 survey questions. Some 56 programmes achieved a score of 92 per cent or above with 12 achieving 100 per cent: Architecture and Environmental EngineeringArchitecture and PlanningCriminology and SociologyDrawing and PrintEarly ChildhoodGeographyInformation Technology Management for BusinessIntegrated Wildlife ConservationInterior ArchitectureNursing (Children’s)Nursing (Learning Disabilities) and Robotics.

Find out more about UWE Bristol rankings and reputation.

Honorary degree awarded to John Pullinger

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UWE Bristol has awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science to John Pullinger in recognition of his contribution to the communication of statistics and economics, particularly for the advice, support and engagement of the Civil Service with the higher education system.

The honorary degree was  conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law at Bristol Cathedral on Monday 16 July at 17:00.

John Pullinger has been the National Statistician, Head of the Government Statistical Service (GSS) and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority since July 2014.

His role is to safeguard the production and publication of high quality official statistics by all public departments, agencies and institutions in the UK. On appointment he described his role as to mobilise the power of data to help Britain make better decisions. His priorities are to improve measurement of the economy, to bring better evidence to public policy debates and to enhance data capability.

John’s career began in 1980 when he joined the Civil Service after graduating in geography and statistics from Exeter University. After several statistical, research and policy roles in different departments, John joined the Central Statistical Office as a senior civil servant in 1992. He was the project manager for the creation of the Office for National Statistics and was the policy lead on the development of the GSS. He worked on diverse projects and subject areas, including responsibility for flagship publications like ‘Social Trends’, leading the neighbourhood statistics programme as well as being actively involved in the creation of the Statistics Commission and National Statistics in 2000.

In 2004, John became the 14th Librarian to the House of Commons a post he held until taking up his current role.

John is a Chartered Statistician and was President of the Royal Statistical Society (2013-14). He has represented the UK internationally in EU, UN, OECD and other forums, was Chair (2015) and Vice-Chair (2016) of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) and is a member of the Board of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.

John is married with three adult children. He was appointed as a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2014 for services to Parliament and to the community, is a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and holds honorary degrees from the universities of Exeter and Essex.

Tips for being a good mentor

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At the early stages of my career, I had a mentor who would always give me time whenever I had an issue, however, to get his attention I would have to go and stand outside with him whilst he listened, quietly puffed away on his pipe and asked me a few questions. This approach worked for me (despite the pipe-smoke) and I quickly developed in my role as felt trusted to do a good job. On reflection, he demonstrated all five factors identified by Julie Starr (2014) of what good mentors do well:

  1. Connect through effective listening
  2. Build a relationship of engagement and trust
  3. Maintain an effective focus
  4. Help overcome false limits, roadblocks or barriers to progress
  5. Help someone grow

However, if your mentoring is online, rather than face-to-face what are the key factors to bear in mind when you volunteer to be someone’s mentor?

  • Building rapport and a relationship is still important – some recent research found that alignment of values may be more important in e-mentoring than other factors such as matching gender or ethnicity (Bierema, 2017)
  • Be clear about the purpose of the mentoring – you both need to have a shared understanding of the mentoring process and agree expectations between you.
  • Most importantly, when online, ensuring you respond to your mentee in a timely Set a realistic expectation of how much time you can commit to mentoring right at the start.
  • Encourage your mentee to identify their own goals and work through ways towards these rather than going straight in with advice/ suggestions. Good mentoring is rarely just about advice (see five points above)!
  • Think about the structure of your mentoring and how you can enable the mentee to move on. At a mutually agreed end point, encourage a bit of reflection and share feedback and learning.

Just as ‘random acts of kindness’ can make us feel great, so too can offering your time and a ‘listening ear’ as on online mentor. Of course, if you get started as an online mentor and really enjoy your role, you can further develop your coaching/ mentoring capability on one of our programmes at Bristol Business School.

Gina Burns
Senior Lecturer Organisation Studies

References

Bierema, L (2017) e-Mentoring: Computer Mediated Career Development for the future in Eds. Clutterbuck, D. A, Kochan, F.K, Lunsford L, Dominguez,  N & Haddock-Millar, J, The Sage Handbook of Mentoring, London: Sage Publications.

Hooley, T,  Hutchinson, J and Neary, S (2016) Ensuring quality in online career mentoring, British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 44 (1), pp26-41.

Starr, J (2014) The Mentoring Manual, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.

Starting the conversation: what to say to your potential online mentor

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It can seem daunting to be the person that makes the first move – even when we’re talking about online mentoring.

Relax, you’ve already got at least one thing in common with the people who’ve volunteered to be mentors on Alumni Connect – UWE Bristol. But where do you go from there?

First impressions count online, and you want your potential mentor to want to help you. Here’s some tips on what to include in your opening gambit.

  1. Introduce yourself

This is about writing a short summary that will help your mentor understand what you need. Tell them what you study/have studied and the main reason you’re looking for a mentor right now. You don’t have to send your CV straight away (or at all), and you might feel more comfortable doing this after someone has replied to your first question. Short and sweet will do just fine here.

  1. Explain why you’ve picked them

Even mentors like to feel special! There’s a reason you’ve considered this mentor, so don’t be shy to let them know.

  1. Ask a question that Google can’t answer

You don’t need to go in with a question straight away, but if you do make sure you don’t ask something could find on the first page of a search engine. Alumni Connect gives you the chance to make unique connections and learn from others’ experiences. So ask your potential mentor something only they can answer.

Example:

I’ve just graduated in Marketing Communications and I’m looking for someone to help me get my first job in Social Media Marketing.

I notice that you worked in Marketing for the Olympic Park, and I’d be really interested to know more about what that involved.

What do you love most about your job?

Or

I’m in my final year studying Graphic Design. It would be brilliant if you could take a look at my website and let me know if there are any areas I could work on to help me get work experience with your company.

I think your approach is really unique and I love the project you did for Santander.

What do you think was the most important factor in getting your job?

Once the conversation has started, it’s up to you and your mentor when it stops!

With the right introduction you can grab their attention and they’ll be able to see how they can help you. Explaining who you are, what help you need and why you think they might be the right mentor to assist you creates an instant confidence.

You might have just established a valuable connection and a helpful stepping stone in your career.

Leanne Newton, Careers Consultant