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Review of the Year 2021


Overhead laser scan map of part of Bradford city centre

Here are a list of some of the things we have achieved in 2021

Review of the year 2021

There is no doubt 2021 has been an exceptional year for the University of Bradford. Staff and students have shown their resilience and fortitude during one of the most difficult years in living memory. Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, our University has shone, it has won a string of outstanding awards, led ground-breaking initiatives and research, made world-changing discoveries and celebrated the success of its graduates. The list below is by no means exhaustive but seeks only to highlight some of our achievements during 2021.

Student experience

The student experience sits at the very heart of everything we do, and this year the University has demonstrated its commitment to that core priority in numerous ways, not least in deciding to return to a campus experience. In February, at the height of the pandemic, we spent £500,000 on new laptops to ensure every student had access to learning. Through numerous generous donations, we raised over £31,000 through our Student Hardship Fund; we increased our Sanctuary Scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees to £4,000-a-year; in June we were one of only 17 institutions to win recognition from the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers; and we launched a new Future’s Fund, offering £1,000 bursaries to students most in need. In August, we were awarded £363,000 by the Government’s Turing Scheme to enable students to study and work abroad, and in November, the Department for Education used our students in a national advertising campaign. In October, the Rt Hon Justine Greening came to hear about our social mobility work, including the success of Graduate Workforce Bradford.

Award winning

Where to begin? Firstly, we were awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, for our world-leading work in developing archaeological technology and techniques, and for the School’s influence on practice, policy, and society in the UK and across the world. The prestigious accolade is the highest form of national recognition that UK higher education institutions can achieve.

On the very same day in November, the School of Management was named Business School of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2021. It was also named business school of the year at the Educate North Awards in April and in March, the School’s online MBA was ranked #1 in the world (for the second year running) by the Financial Times. Also in November, IT director Juliette Atkinson was highly commended for Innovator of the Year in the Women in Tech Excellence Awards 2021.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Inclusion is at the heart of the University of Bradford and central to all we do. Our work to increase social mobility and our unshakable commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion led us to be ranked #2 in England for increasing social mobility in a new study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies/Sutton Trust. That ranking followed a similar social mobility study by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), which ranked us #1. In July, we won one of the first Levelling Up awards.

We also announced our successes in two bids funded jointly by the Office for Students and Research England, whose purpose is to help increase access and participation for black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in postgraduate research. 

The bids include a £1.3 million pound project, to be run by the University of Bradford, and a £3.6 million pound Yorkshire-wide project, of which our University will contribute £118,000.

In the media

Our academics and experts are regularly called on by respected news outlets to comment on topical issues. Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon appeared on BBC’s Newsnight in August and in November Dr Liz Breen, director of the Digital Health Enterprise Zone, appeared on BBC national news. Prof Vince Gaffney appeared in a TV documentary on Discovery, Assistant Prof Kamran Mahroof is a regular on national radio, as is Emeritus Prof Paul Rogers, while Prof Julia Beaumont, aka ‘the Bradford Tooth Fairy’ made national headlines after her dental detective work helped solve an 800-year-old archaeological mystery; and Dr David Spicer made an impassioned plea for HS2 and digital development in a Yorkshire Post opinion piece.

Leading the way

In January, we staged the world’s first conference on circular economies, attracting over 200 delegates from 20 countries. The Novavax vaccine trials, the largest of their kind in the UK, took place at our Digital Health Enterprise Zone, which also hosted the world’s first covid booster trials.

Professor Steven Pinker launched our inaugural Peace Lecture in February, while national poet Lemn Sissay OBE took part in our first UNIfy Festival in April. Our research led to breakthroughs in the understanding of cancer, artificial intelligence, a possible cure for blindness caused by injury, sunspot detection and solar ‘weather’ cycles; we led studies into dementia and the plight of care home workers during the pandemic, and we launched the Bradford Economic Recovery Plan.

In July, our School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences won a £400,000 contract from Health Education England to train pharmacists across the North, and in November it also signed a major partnership to quality assure training for NHS pharmacists across the UK. In May, we won two more Athena Swan awards; in August, we received a large donation to launch the Bradford-Renduchintala Centre for Space AI; and in October we signed up to the UK’s first Football for Peace Mesut Ozil Development Centre. Our students helped with the launch of our new Sustainability project, we visited COP26 (and gained permanent ‘observer’ status), took part in Bradford Cafe Scientifique and underlined our commitment to Bradford2025 City of Culture bid.