Professor Andrew Atherton gives his thoughts on his first two months as Principal and Vice-Chancellor:
“I am now two months into the job of Principal and Vice-Chancellor, and have already learned a great deal already about the University and the city. I would like to thank everybody I have met and communicated with so far, for welcoming me into your community and also being so open in our conversations. Both have made the transition into the role much easier. I still have a lot to learn and want to continue to hear from staff, and so encourage you to continue to contribute and engage.
Before I started in this job, I had done some research and background analysis of Dundee and my conclusion was that this is a very good university. What I have found since I started here is that it is even better than it seems from the outside. There is real quality and excellence across the university. This is something to celebrate.”
Professor Kevin Read discusses “Discovering New Drugs to Treat Tropical Diseases” at Discovery Days 2019.
“The second half of my first week was spent at Discovery Days and I found it hugely inspiring to hear about the work being done by our newest Professors, especially its quality and impact. For example, listening to Kevin Read telling us about major breakthroughs that could treat diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, I was struck that there are special things happening here that couldn’t be claimed by many other universities.
These achievements are evident across the University, as is the progress we are making on many fronts. For example, the growth in student recruitment that has been achieved in recent years is outstanding, and well ahead of other universities in the UK.
As I referred to in my open sessions with staff, we need to do more to raise awareness of our achievements globally. Our reputation, as measured in the global surveys such as QS and Times Higher Education, does not match our actual performance. In the QS world rankings we rank in the 200s, but our reputation for research and teaching – as measured through a survey of academic in other countries – is only just in the top 500. Not enough people know about Dundee’s quality and achievements. We need to do much more to get the word out about what we do, and how good it is.
Because of these real strengths, I feel optimistic about where we are going. However, we are facing some real challenges we must address. The biggest of those is our financial sustainability. The university is currently operating at a deficit, and the recent award from the funding council does not help this. Dealing with the deficit is neither easy nor straightforward, but is a priority for us to address.
How we do this will be important. I am aware that in the past there have been measures to reduce costs, some of which have had lasting effects. Although we can’t rule out any option at this point, Dundee is growing and thriving and as a result, I want us to look at income growth, new opportunities for revenue generation and improvements to productivity as first steps. If we get these right, even if at some point we need to reduce costs, we can do so in a way that does not constrain our growth and allows us to continue to make improvements to quality. Whatever decisions we make, I will ensure we do them openly and you have opportunities to express your views. I will also consider the effects and implications to the university and as much to staff and students before we make any decisions.
Dundee’s continuing progress and our achievements in so many areas are a very good basis for future development. I feel optimistic about our future, proud of the university and confident we will continue to make Dundee even more successful than it is today.”