2014: A year of achievement
It has been a year of achievement at Glyndŵr University.
The Wrexham-based institution has endured a challenging 12 months, but its students, staff and partners experienced many successes along the way.
Here are some of the highlights of 2014.
In January, the ground-breaking impact of new technologies on education and learning were explored.
Innovations including a cutting-edge learning dome created by the University’s computing department and Techniquest Glyndŵr came under focus at the Technology-enhanced Learning Symposium.
It was also revealed that staff and students from Glyndŵr University were to join more than 16,000 others worldwide in attempting to make a video game in under 48 hours.
For the second year running, the University was the only one in Wales hosting Global Game Jam, which was designed to bring people together from all backgrounds and encourage creative thinking to result in small but innovative and experimental games.
Elsewhere, a campaign to turn Wrexham into Wales' first dementia friendly town was given a major boost by Professor Michael Scott, Vice Chancellor of Glyndŵr University, who gave his wholehearted backing to the ground-breaking Purple Angels scheme.
February saw Glyndŵr University enjoy Wales’ largest increase in UCAS acceptances.
The University enjoyed a staggering 32% increase in acceptances during the 2013/14 UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) cycle. The upturn was the fifth highest in the UK.
Meanwhile, technology firm Brother enlisted the help of psychologists from Glyndŵr to encourage more of its customers to recycle print cartridges, and it was announced that the institution had tied-up a formal link-up with Focus Wales, an annual not-for-profit festival of live music, comedy and interactive events in Wrexham.
The University’s innovative Glyndŵr Wrexham Football Academy was launched by Honorary Fellow and former Premier League and England star Michael Owen in March, allowing professional footballers to study for a degree while training and playing for Wrexham FC or a feeder club based in the Welsh football league.
Later that month, aspiring entrepreneurs were given insight and advice on running their own company at the first Business Entrepreneurship Network (BEN) for Wrexham, and a play about Dylan Thomas – entitled Time Passes – received its debut at Glyndŵr.
In April, Glyndŵr University’s computer science team was given a £15,000 cash boost by Google, as part of the internet giant’s Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) initiative. The money paid for a synchronised summer school programme in July.
Sir Jon Shortridge, Glyndŵr’s Chancellor and chairman, said the University was ready to start the next chapter in its evolution following a “tough but successful” year. He made the vow while addressing up to a hundred guests at the Annual Review event.
May saw the team at Glyndŵr University’s OpTIC facility in St Asaph receive £600,000 from the Welsh Government’s A4B scheme, allowing its National Facility for Ultra Precision Services to respond even quicker to the needs of the UK and international optics industry.
It came after the scientists polishing mirrors for the £900m European-Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) won the race to meet challenging ESO (European Southern Observatory) specifications, putting them in pole position to help produce all of the segments required for its primary mirror.
Another boost came when Glyndŵr University was named number one in Wales for student satisfaction. The University achieved the 14th highest score for student satisfaction in the UK, and the highest score in Wales according to the Complete University Guide.
More good news came when the institution was lauded for being in the top 10 in the UK for helping students from poorer families into professional jobs. The University was joint seventh in the proposed Social Mobility Graduate Index, and number one in Wales.
A series of free events aimed at students, graduates and businesses took place at Glyndŵr University in June.
Campuses organised activities to celebrate Universities Week, from Monday June 9, including an interactive session on tree and plant health and an open day to celebrate the new partnership between the University and Skillshare International.
Glyndŵr University also moved into the top three universities in Wales after rising 44 places in a league table of UK universities. The University was one of the biggest risers in the Guardian University Guide 2015, climbing from 108 to 64 in the rankings.
It was also discovered that students studying education, art and built environment courses at Glyndŵr were among the most satisfied in the UK. The three course areas ranked in the top five nationally for overall satisfaction in subject tables of the Guardian study.
Glyndŵr University joined forces with an entertainment pioneer in July, aiming to bring the best in live music to a landmark venue.
A new partnership with VMS – which operates, promotes and manages Manchester Academy, Brixton Electric and Birmingham Ballroom, amongst other arenas – gave the institution a fresh platform to bring UK and international bands and musicians to the William Aston Hall, notably The Levellers, who played there later in the year.
There was also cause for celebration as nursing and education students rated their course top in Wales for the quality of teaching in an annual survey of students. The two course areas ranked highest in the country for satisfaction with teaching in the latest National Student Survey (NSS).
Later that month and into August, the return of the Lesotho team for the Commonwealth Games became a reality, and it was announced Glyndŵr would play a major role in developing netball in the African nation as part of a MOU signed between the two parties.
A cluster of exciting new courses, innovative learning and cutting-edge facilities attracted hundreds of students to Glyndŵr University open day. The University welcomed more than 300 people from across the UK to Wrexham, showcasing its suite of programmes and buildings.
In September, the new academic year brought a revitalised approach to the academic and operational structure, and also saw a wheelchair basketball player train at Glyndŵr University ahead of representing Great Britain at the inaugural Invictus Games – just months after taking up the sport.
AJ Pingram, from Llangollen is one of the stars of Rhyl Raptors’ basketball squad and looked forward to appearing at the Copperbox Arena with Team GB.
Meanwhile, the Business School was recognised by the Awarding Body at The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) for delivering first class academic standards at postgraduate level, and a £300,000 revamp over the summer saw the installation of a new playing surface, changing rooms, medical facilities and improved seating for disabled supporters at the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium.
Wrexham’s former Premier League and Wales international footballer Robbie Savage received an Honorary Fellowship in October, and English and creative writing lecturer Mike Miles was celebrating the publication of his latest book, An Uncommon Attorney.
Mike, who writes under the pen name Miles Craven, enjoyed another landmark – 10 years with the Wrexham institution.
But arguably the biggest news of the year came after months of hard work by staff across the institution; Glyndŵr enrolled more than 1,350 new full-time undergraduate students for 2014/15 – the University’s best-ever intake.
And major strides were made in research; it was revealed that Glyndŵr would play a major role in a £25million project aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm among the over 50s. The Big Lottery Fund invested the money into a prevention and awareness programme across five areas of the UK, in partnership with support charity Addaction. Glyndŵr University will receive funding of £219,000 over five years and be responsible for evaluation of interventions in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) in South Wales.
November got off to a great start, as up to 3000 job seekers visited an employment fair at the Catrin Finch Centre.
Organised by Wrexham JobCentre and Glyndŵr's careers team, the World of Jobs event was a roaring success.
Elsewhere, the University teamed-up with radio giant Capital to raise money for worthy causes.
The two organisations are to collaborate on fundraising events, and that started with the Winter Wonderland ball in December, which went on to raise £9,000 for Glyndŵr Giving and Capital’s charity Global’s Make Some Noise.
As Christmas approached, there was no sign of things slowing down.
The Centenary Bar at the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium picked up a silver award in the 2014 Best Bar None Wrexham awards, the brilliant Theatre, TV and Performance students sold out their run of the musical Grease, and the University reduced emissions across all of its campuses.
In comparison with April-October 2013 the University decreased consumption of gasoil by 65% and reduced electricity levels by 7%, water by 20% and gas by 30% in 2014. The financial savings topped £42,000.
Over in St Asaph, scientists were finally able reach for the stars after construction of the world’s largest telescope was approved.
December was also awards season: Vic Grout, Professor of Computing Futures at Glyndŵr University, was presented with a certificate of recognition by the British Computer Society, and, after graduating from Glyndŵr University this year, engineer Devon Sumner went on to win the Higher Apprentice of the Year award for Wales, and the 2014 Royal Aeronautical Society (RAS) Final Year Undergraduate Prize.
Finally, the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) deemed almost 12% of the institution’s submitted research output in communications, cultural and media studies to be of the highest standard.
It also reported that More than 90% of Glyndŵr University’s electrical engineering, materials and computer science research assessed was of international significance, and areas of media research world-leading.
Almost all research submitted in electrical and electronic engineering, metallurgy and materials science - above 95% - was recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour, as was more than 90% of work submitted in computer science.
Glyndwr's computing department chalked up a significant improvement on its success in the last REF, in 2008. Nearly 93% of staff publications in the field were recognised as being of international standard and over 7% being "world leading".
More than 70% of Glyndŵr University’s psychology research is rated internationally significant, with elements of it world-leading.
Professor Michael Scott said: “We are delighted with the results, which show the university is making great strides forward with its research. More of our staff submitted research than ever before and the quality of internationally excellent research, the second highest rated, more than doubled in metallurgy and materials science.”
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all, from everyone at Glyndŵr University.