The University enjoyed another year of success, advancing our reputation for world-leading research, improving our students’ educational experience and building our international profile.
We learned our world-leading Institute of Aquaculture (IoA) was to receive the UK’s most prestigious academic honour – the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. The award is in recognition of the IoA’s pioneering work over the past 40 years in helping to tackle global hunger through the world’s fastest-growing food production sector.
We were also proud to be named UK Sports University of the Year 2020 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide – the first time a Scottish university has been awarded this distinguished accolade. The award not only recognises our impressive track record in producing world-class athletes, including many Olympians, but also acknowledges our educational and research strengths in this area and, of course, the exceptional sporting environment on campus for all our students and staff.
Continuous improvement forms part of our strategic planning for the future and during 2019 work continued at pace on two flagship projects which will significantly enhance our student experience. A £20 million transformation of our sports facilities, including an iconic new building to complement our existing world-class facilities, will open this summer (2020). Progress also continued on our transformational £21.7m ‘Campus Central’ development, which will deliver new social and learning spaces at the heart of our beautiful campus. Both projects have been designed with input from our students, staff and local stakeholders, ensuring that the new spaces and facilities, and the services which will operate from them, meet the needs and expectations of our diverse community of users.
This past year saw our new Chancellor, The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell, conduct his first graduation ceremonies. More than 4,000 students graduated – joining our global family which now stands at more than 92,000 Stirling alumni in 170 countries around the world.
We again increased our research income and continued to evolve our groundbreaking research activity, focusing even more closely on tackling some of the biggest global challenges. Our academics are carrying out inter-disciplinary research on real-life problems – in the thematic areas of: Living Well; Global Security and Resilience; and Cultures, Communities and Society –in order to improve the lives of people in local communities and around the world.
Our research, learning and teaching environment continues to be recognised externally. In the latest QS World University Rankings, we were given a five-star institutional rating and were awarded five stars for teaching, employability, internationalisation, facilities and inclusiveness.
Our University ethos is to ‘be the difference’ and making a positive contribution to the communities we serve is central to our mission. As an anchor institution, and regional economic powerhouse, we are playing a key role in delivering an additional £39 million of government investment, through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal. Using our multi-disciplinary expertise, this investment will support our researchers to position the region as a global leader in tackling some of the key challenges facing the world, including climate change and sustainable economic growth. These projects will also help to create new opportunities for the local community and wider region, by attracting new inward investment and jobs, and acting as a magnet for talent.
I believe our people are our most valuable asset and I want to thank everyone who has worked hard to ensure our most recent successes – it has been another good year. I look forward to working alongside our global community of students, staff, alumni and other stakeholders as we build on our achievements and write the next chapter in the Stirling story.
Professor Gerry McCormac
Principal and Vice-Chancellor