Department audit

December 3, 2004

Hilary Robinson, head of school, gives the lowdown on art and design at the University of Ulster

* Total number of academic staff: 75 (plus three new permanent appointees about to start).

* Number of permanent academic staff: 70, including 20 associate staff on permanent 0.5 full-time contracts.

* Number of academic staff on fixed-term contracts : 5

* Number of hourly paid/casual academic staff: 28

* Number of other academic staff: Numerous visiting lecturers who do focused specialist or guest teaching.

* Number of professors/senior lecturers including readers: 17

* Number of ethnic minority academic staff: Equal-opportunity monitoring focuses primarily on perceived religious identity - meaning Catholic or Protestant. At least two staff identify themselves as non-white, and two are mixed-race.

* Number of women academic staff: 33

* Number of women academic staff who are professors, senior lecturers or principal lecturers: 6

* Research assessment exercise rating: 5 (no 5*s were awarded in 2001)

* When was the last quality assessment? 1999. The next one is next semester.

* Current and approved vacancies for the next 12 months? We interviewed last week for two lectureships, and two more are pending. Applications have just closed for the director of our research institute. We have recently advertised 14 posts for Interface: Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design.

* Significant staff changes in the past six months? Over the past two years the staff-to-student ratio has reduced from 1:28 to 1:23. In September, nine staff took early retirement. Their posts are being redeployed or replaced.

* Research projects? The major one is Interface. This is the result of winning funding of more than £9 million from the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland and Atlantic Philanthropies. Interface will research the impact of new technology and interdisciplinarity, with two areas of focus: art and its locations, and textiles. The university has just introduced research institutes for its highest-performing areas to focus funding and management.

* What have been the main preoccupations of the department in the past six months? The rebuild of the Belfast campus, managing staff changes and the implementation of new courses.

* Anything else? In the past four years, there has been rapid change in the school as a result of having a new vice-chancellor who supports the subject, an excellent RAE result and gaining the Interface funding. This has led to extraordinary levels of change in staffing and research funding in a short period, alongside course expansion. There has also been increased focus on profiling the school nationally and internationally.

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