New term Campus Heart update

Deputy Registrar, Lynn Robinson, talks about what’s been happening in Campus Heart over the last few months, and how you can get involved.

I hope you’ve had a relaxing summer, with time to enjoy the sunshine and a well-deserved break. As we look forward to the new term I wanted to share an update on our plans to develop the Clifton campus; the Campus Heart programme. 

We’ve listened to what colleagues and students have told us they want at the University and the Campus Heart development is one of our responses. We are transforming the spaces in and around Tyndall Avenue, to create opportunities for everyone to learn, study and teach, get help and support, eat and drink, exercise or just relax. We also want these spaces to be welcoming to local residents and other members of the city. 

As you will have seen, the changes have already started and this September we open the doors to our re-modelled Indoor Sports Centre with much increased capacity for sport and exercise. The reception rooms in Royal Fort House will soon become a new space at the heart of the campus for staff to rest and meet colleagues and guests. The most ambitious part of our plans is the development, by 2022/23, of a world class library; a showcase for our Cultural Collections, more teaching and study spaces, new cafes and much more.  

Senate House plays a huge role in our aims for the Campus Heart. Having an administration building in such a central location didn’t feel quite right, particularly to many of our students, given that our Students’ Union is less central than in many universities. The creation of a student resource centre in Senate House is a key part of our strategy to improve the educational experience of our students and the developments will also provide new facilities for staff.  This has been facilitated by the move by hundreds of professional services staff to other locations across the city, which I know has not been easy, and I am very grateful for the way in which everyone has embraced this move. 

When we open the doors to Senate House next term we’ll be providing students with many of the spaces they’ve asked for, earlier than originally planned, whilst continuing the development of the remaining services. We’re piloting a start-up Student Information Service to signpost the ways to get help and support. There will be new study spaces and for the first time our PGR students will have a home of their own in a new PGR hub. In November, the Students’ Union will open a ‘Living room’, which responds to the ever-stronger wellbeing message from students about the lack of space on campus to relax and build a sense of community.  

The Fry building fire and the increasing pressure on teaching spaces means that we will also be providing over 500 high-quality additional teaching spaces in the building, so many staff and students will benefit from a timetable with less travel time. This will be complemented by two temporary 150 seat teaching spaces in Royal Fort Gardens which will be ready for next term. 

So, in the short term in Senate House we will have better teaching facilities and new services for students but there is still more to come.  

We are committed to our original vision for Senate House and we’ve recently received planning permission for a two-storey extension for a wonderful food hall, with new places to meet and relax for staff, students and our local community. Senate House will host additional study seats and it will become the home for Bristol Institute of Learning and Teaching (BILT), providing a place for colleagues to think about pedagogy and experiment with new ways of teaching. There will also be much needed new bookable meeting spaces. 

I want the heart of our university to be a beautiful and welcoming place that befits our standing as a university. Campus Heart is about the institution that we are, the strengths that we have and will enable us to present ourselves in the way that our university deserves.  

The Campus Heart call to action for our community is ‘Make this yours’. This invitation to get involved extends to our students, staff and local community.  Upcoming events include; walking tours of Senate House on 20 September to find out about what’s happening now, with an interactive vision of the future. Free gym classes are running from 17 -21 September so sign up and tell us what you think. Visit the Campus Heart ‘Make this yours’ stand on Tyndall Avenue during Welcome week and get involved. Please feedback on the changes in Royal Fort House when it opens this term.   

For a number of years I have wanted our campus heart to be a welcoming place for everyone and somewhere that feels distinctly “Bristol”. As changes happen we will keep you updated about opportunities to have your say but in the meantime, I’d be very interested in hearing your ideas.  Please share your thoughts by email or join the conversation on yammer.  

I look forward to working with you to create our Campus Heart.

Deputy Registrar, Lynn Robinson