Department audit

February 4, 2005

John Palfreyman, head of school, gives the lowdown on contemporary sciences at the University of Abertay, Dundee

* Total number of academic staff: 41, including office staff, technicians, research students and so on.

* Number of permanent academic staff: 37

* Number of hourly paid/casual academic staff: quite a few

* Number of professors or senior lecturers: 5 professors, 3 divisional leaders, 11 senior lecturers or equivalent

* Number of ethnic minority academic staff: excluding the English, 5

* Number of female academic staff: 13

* Number of female academic staff in senior positions: 3

* Research assessment exercise rating: 4 (environmental sciences) in 2001, the best in Scotland and joint fifth in the UK, up from a 2 in RAE 1996. We are working hard for a 5 equivalent at the next RAE.

* When was the last quality assessment? 2000 in civil engineering; currently being assessed in biotechnology and forensic science, and construction.

* Current and approved vacancies for the next 12 months? New post available in forensic sciences, other possibilities in food and consumer sciences.

Research vacancies in environmental science.

* Significant staff changes in the past six months: Appointment of Graeme Walker to a personal chair; promotion of Gwen Hughes to senior teaching fellow.

* Star teachers or researchers: All the staff are stars.

* Main changes in 2004: Rebuilding of most teaching laboratories; the development of crime scene houses, where mock crimes are set up; a £4 million investment in new environmental sciences facilities such as the Abertay Centre for the Environment; the development of the Centre for Molecular and Cellular BioSensor Research; the launch of an MBA in biotechnology and BSc in natural resource management.

* Main preoccupations for 2005: Recruiting more staff in forensic sciences; delivering on the university's strategy of "recruitment, retention and reputation" and on the next RAE strategy; linking teaching and research in a more meaningful way; dealing with full economic costing, the transparency review and such; keeping overseas recruitment increasing. Also, turning applications for 2005-06 into students; meeting "wider access", "employability" and "persistence" targets for students; and engaging with the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council's research pooling initiatives.

* Research projects: With papers appearing in Nature , Science , Proceedings of the Royal Society and so on, things are on the up. The continual challenge is how to reach sustainability, how to know when we get there and then keeping the dynamism that allows sustainability to be sustainable.

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