Trio of vice chancellors join University of Bedfordshire

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Appointments will strengthen students' experience and create an international strategy

The University of Bedfordshire has welcomed three new Pro Vice Chancellors (PVCs) to lead the areas of Education & Student Experience, International and Research & Innovation.

The new PVCs and core members of the Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group are Dr Julie Brunton, Adrian Dutch and Professor Andrew Church.

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Professor Rebecca Bunting, Vice Chancellor, said: “The passion, the energy and the ambition our new team now has are crucial characteristics for what we want to achieve as a successful institution, and I very much look forward to seeing how our plans for the areas of Education & Student Experience, International and Research & Innovation progress.”

Professor Andrew Church, Dr Julie Brunton and Adrian DutchProfessor Andrew Church, Dr Julie Brunton and Adrian Dutch
Professor Andrew Church, Dr Julie Brunton and Adrian Dutch

Stepping into the role of PVC for Education & Student Experience, Dr Julie Brunton joined Bedfordshire from Sheffield Hallam University where she was Associate Dean of Teaching, Learning and the wider Student Experience.

She will be working to develop and implement the Education and Student Experience Strategy, aligned to improve student satisfaction, retention, attainment and graduate outcomes. She will also be responsible for overseeing the University’s academic partnerships in the UK.

Dr Brunton said: "The University of Bedfordshire is a very inspiring place to work – staff are working so hard to make the student experience the best they can and that is exciting to be part of.

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"I had an excellent time while at university myself and know the benefits and enjoyment that it can bring. The diverse student body now has a wide range of needs and preferences for achieving a high quality student experience. My aim is to develop Bedfordshire’s student offer to achieve this high quality experience."

Adrian Dutch joined the university as PVC for International. He entered the education sector over ten years ago at City University London, where he founded their International Office, and he has held positions including Head of Marketing, Head of Student Recruitment and Director of International.

Mr Dutch hopes to use his experience to build on the already successful international strategy in place at the University and plans to attract more international students to the facilities and courses available at the Bedford campus. He said: “International is one of the success stories here at Bedfordshire, with the International Office and the Centre for Academic Partnerships doing a tremendous job in building our profile and recruiting significant numbers of international students over the last few years.

“We plan to build on that success, increasing the diversity of the countries our students come from, the diversity of courses they choose to study, and also diversifying the income streams that generate revenue for investment in the University, such as Summer Schools, Study Abroad, TNE and overseas partnerships.”

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Professor Andrew Church has taken on the new role of PVC for Research & Innovation, joining Bedfordshire after spending twenty years at the University of Brighton where he was most recently the Associate PVC for Research and Enterprise.

Professor Church is an active researcher himself, publishing papers, supervising PhD students and securing research funding, and is currently part of an interdisciplinary team funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund, conducting research on sanitation in off grid communities in Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana and India.

Professor Church says that the positive impact that research can have on the world is part of his motivation for this new role. He said: “Covid-19 has shown just how important university research, including work at Bedfordshire, is to the health and well-being of societies around the world. New knowledge generated by universities is fundamental to promoting fairness and justice, stimulating economies and tackling environmental degradation including biodiversity loss and climate change.

“The University of Bedfordshire is already known as an institution for cutting edge research in specific areas and for developing innovations that tackle social inequalities and improve people’s livelihoods. I’m looking forward to engaging with our existing research partners, expanding our apprenticeship programmes and postgraduate research, strengthening our business support and developing new forms of civic engagement with public and community partners across the region and internationally.”