Thursday 26 January, Reading students were given the opportunity to hear from the university’s Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell, and raise any concerns with issues ranging from accommodation to Brexit to diversity within senior staff. RUSU President, Ben Cooper led the session, asking questions posed by students, giving his own input, and opening the discussion up to the floor.
In his introductory speech, Sir David Bell touched upon Brexit, the government’s newly implemented Higher Education and Research Bill, and the university’s impressive diversity among students and staff.
The first question asked was about the implications of Brexit on the university to which he answered that thus far “everything but nothing has changed”. For the foreseeable future, EU students will continue to have access to the UK loan, and research funding from Europe will be guaranteed for projects started before Britain’s official withdrawal from the EU. With regards to Erasmus, things are uncertain, but there is apparently always a solution.
A major concern among students is the planned refurbishment for the library, and the disruption that may cause during the exam period and the time leading up to it. The URS building has recently been nationally listed as a significant architectural interest and therefore its planned development has been postponed, and as it has been emptied and Construction has moved to the new Chancellor’s Building on Chancellor’s Way, URS is now available for study space and will continue to be available as the library undergoes work.
A third concern was that of keeping a high quality of teaching at the university. “It would be a foolish thing to say everything is perfect.” Course feedback has lately become important in monitoring the standards of lectures and seminars – course reps take local feedback to senior staff in each department, and questionnaires are completed by participants of each module.
Moving on to the issue of increased fees. Current students will continue to pay the amount that they already do for tuition, however from September 2017, new incoming students will pay the increased tuition fee of £9250 per year of study.
There are several events coming up this year – including a visit by American linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, in May 2017. The event currently has over 3000 registered interest, but seats are limited to 700. It is set to take place at Reading Town Hall Wednesday 10 May 2017. Interest may be registered via the University of Reading website if you wish to be informed about ticket prices and how to enter the ballot.
Additionally, to mark International Women’s Day, the university will hold its annual Edith Morley lecture in March 2017.