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University of Huddersfield: Inspiring tomorrow’s professionals

Andrew Henry
Published on February 18, 2013
University business school

The University Business School

This week we are showcasing the University of Huddersfield and you can find out more about the University below. You can also read Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Cryan’s blog ‘Great teaching and research a catalyst for economic regeneration’ and read about COPING, an international project overseen and organised by the University which seeks to alleviate the plight of children who have a parent in jail.

The University of Huddersfield is determined to continue to play an important role in local, regional and national economic regeneration and to do so not only via education and research but through active and outward engagement with business and the wholehearted embrace of entrepreneurialism.

When Huddersfield was named Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the 2012 Times Higher Education Awards, a category that its Vice-Chancellor and his colleagues were most eager to win, it provided validation of the university’s entrepreneurial outlook.

On campus the most tangible symbol of the University’s ambitions is a recently-completed building named the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre. The building takes its name from one of Huddersfield’s most distinguished alumni, Sir George Buckley, who rose to become CEO of the 3M corporation.

“A wide variety of research groups based at the University of Huddersfield are equally determined to play a part in key economic, industrial, and social issues.”

Constructed and equipped at a cost £12 million – with a substantial contribution from the EU’s Regional Development Fund and an investment from the local Kirklees Council – the Centre is not simply a place where spin-off businesses from university research are based. Instead, it is intended as an engine house for enterprise, where firms of all sorts, from large corporates to SMEs and small-scale start-ups, can locate themselves and have ready access to university expertise and research.

Larger companies are installing their own laboratory facilities in the Centre, while ambitious start-ups, including student enterprises, have the use of office equipment and communications facilities far in advance of anything they could afford in their own right. The aim is to have the Centre fully tenanted by 2014 – occupied by about 100 enterprises, many hundreds of employees – and providing a unique interface between academics and the business world.

The 3M corporation – which is constantly seeking new technologies – has provided impressive backing. For example, Professor Liz Towns-Andrews, the University of Huddersfield’s Director of Research and Enterprise, who conceived the Centre, has been awarded the 3M Chair of Innovation. The only other university with a 3M-branded chair is Harvard.

Long before the advent of the 3M BIC, the University of Huddersfield had forged a large number of industrial partnerships and its well-established expertise in the field of metrology meant that it became the only standalone non-Russell Group university to be awarded an EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing.

A wide variety of research groups based at the University of Huddersfield are equally determined to play a part in key economic, industrial, and social issues.

“This heavy emphasis on research and entrepreneurship is underpinned by a determination to improve the student experience and outcome.”

To choose just three – the Institute for Railway Research will help advance the technology of a mode of transport that is assuming enormous new relevance, not least as Britain prepares for its new high-speed lines; the International Institute for Accelerator Applications is working on the development of compact particle accelerators that promise a breakthrough in cancer treatment; the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies operates globally, working on projects for UNICEF and the EU and helping to inform UN policy to counter problems such as child abuse.

This heavy emphasis on research and entrepreneurship is underpinned by a determination to improve the student experience and outcome. The University repeatedly makes a very strong showing in surveys of teaching excellence and this is due in no small part to the fact that Huddersfield is the first UK university at which all staff have been accredited by the Higher Education Academy. It is also has one of the sector’s best success rates in the appointment of National Teaching Fellows.

Innovations in teaching and student provision include award-winning software named MyReading, which ensures that all students have instant, interactive access to all their course material, in electronic or print form.

There can be few if any UK universities that place such a heavy emphasis on work placement. It is embedded into every Huddersfield degree course, from arts and humanities to applied sciences and engineering. This policy helps to pay exceptional dividends when it comes to graduate employability, one of the most keenly observed benchmarks in the various surveys and rankings that are produced for the HE sector.

For example, recent Destination of Leavers in Higher Education findings show that six months after graduation, 94.9 per cent of former Huddersfield students are in work or have moved on to further study. These figures have placed Huddersfield at sixth in the whole country for postgraduation employment levels

Continual investment in new buildings and facilities is an article of faith, especially important as the sector becomes more competitive. These range from a sector-leading new suite for the teaching and practice of pharmacy to a £22.5 million Learning and Leisure Centre, now under construction, which will provide a vital upgrade to sports provision.

But despite its broadening horizons, the University of Huddersfield is true to its traditional Yorkshire roots. Despite its rolling investment programme – it is debt free…

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