Another year of growth at Gibraltar’s University

Academic Year 2019/20
As we look forward to welcoming more students for the next academic year, we reflect on what has been another year of growth and achievements.

Fresh strategic direction

The University’s Strategic Plan for 2019-2022 has recently been published, following extensive consultations. The Strategic plan sets out a path to create ‘An Institution of excellence in teaching, learning and research’.

There have been changes to the leadership at the University this year. There is a new Board of Governors led by Albert Langston as its Chairman and Professor Catherine Bachleda has been appointed as Vice-Chancellor after acting in this position for almost a year.

Externally regulated

A big milestone was reached in May 2018 with the appointment of the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority (“the GRA”) as the regulator of the University. Published Regulations give the GRA powers to ensure that the University complies with its functions and responsibilities under the University of Gibraltar Act as well as to monitor the quality and standards of the University.  The University has subsequently completed its first regulatory reporting cycle with GRA in a satisfactory manner.

In September 2018, the University of Gibraltar (Academic Board) Regulations 2018 were published, formally establishing the University’s Academic Board in line with the University of Gibraltar Act 2015.

The University now has a Director of Quality to ensure that all University of Gibraltar degrees continue to be aligned to UK quality standards and that this can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the UK’s national quality agency the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

Internationally recognised

The University’s standards are gaining international recognition too. Speaking of the recent PGCE programme, the external validation panel of experts described the University’s programme as “ambitious and imaginative”, “innovative and high quality” and one that should “enhance the education of children in Gibraltar”.

The UK Higher Education Representative body, ‘GuildHE’ recently described the University as “small by design, strong links to local business, and committed to high-quality provision”, while influential Higher Education publication, ‘Wonkhe’, wrote the following; “the regulatory structures surrounding the University of Gibraltar are fascinating. It’s like the English system drawn in miniature.”

Read the WonkHE article

An attractive destination

The international Higher Education sector is highly competitive and this past year the University has been actively positioning itself within a global context. Its marketing efforts have included participation in student recruitment fairs and other promotional drives in countries as far afield as India and in South America, as well as efforts closer to home in the UK, Spain and Morocco. This, alongside local and regional activity aims to pitch the University shoulder to shoulder with global educational institutions.

It would not be possible to attract international students without the availability of reasonably priced student accommodation and the completion of two residential student blocks, which will be available for the start of September 2019, are another important milestone for the University that will support its recruitment drive.

International relationships

The University has prioritised the development of international relationships that reinforce its international standing and provide opportunities for its students. These have included agreements and discussions with the Network of Universities of Small Countries and Territories, an MoU with the University of North Carolina (Wilmington), more recently, signing an agreement with Broward College, Florida, to facilitate the transfer of students from Broward to the University, and joining the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) as an Educational Affiliate Member. Commonwealth universities are able to network extensively and effectively through the ACU, sharing problems, solutions, and good practice in a variety of higher education environments.

The University has recently taken on the presidency of the Mediterranean Studies Association. The MSA is an organisation that promotes the scholarly study of the Mediterranean region in all aspects and disciplines. The presidency will be for a year, ending with Gibraltar hosting the MSA conference during the last week of May 2020.

Portfolio Development – academic

Following a launch in 2018, the University’s undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) welcomed its first cohort of students, including the first two students funded by Parasol Scholarships. Developed in line with the UK Quality Assurance Agency Quality Code, and commended by an external validation panel of experts, this industry-focused degree includes an important placement component that has allowed students to gain first class industry experience.

September 2018 also saw the University welcome its first cohort to its Masters in Marine Science and Climate Change. Students following this programme benefit from the support of Government Departments including the Department of the Environment.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education is on track to start in September of this year. Designed and developed by the University of Gibraltar in partnership with the Department of Education, and Kingston University, it is the first time that this qualification is being offered in Gibraltar.

This year also saw the University working with a highly acclaimed international University to develop and launch its own locally delivered Master of Business Administration (MBA). This means Gibraltar’s professionals and graduates now have the option of studying for this elite business qualification face-to-face and here in Gibraltar rather than via distance learning.

There has been continued growth of the University’s PhD research programme. There are now seventeen PhD research students, many local, who are conducting meaningful research that will benefit the wider community. October 2018 saw the enrolment of the first two full time Commonwealth Scholarship PhD students, supported by the University’s Institute of Life & Earth Sciences and Institute for Gibraltar & Mediterranean Studies.

Portfolio development – professional courses

As well as strong development of the University’s academic programmes, the University is also making progress with its professional courses portfolio. The Law and Taxation Professional Certificates continue together with other professional courses that also link closely with industry including CILEx (law), CII (insurance), AAT (accounting), and short courses for i) Digital Innovation ii) Business Improvement iii) Financial & Management Accounting, and iv) Sports Coaching.

In addition, the University was awarded Approved Learning Provider status for Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme (ELCAS) for those transitioning from MOD life to Civilian life and the University’s Europa Point Language Centre received Approved Provider Centre status for Cambridge Assessment English.

The University was also licensed by ACCA as a computer-based examination centre this year; thus allowing external examination candidates to sit their professional accountancy examinations online from the University.

In May 2019, the University launched its Professional Certificate of Competence in Blockchain and Smart Contracts; a direct outcome of work undertaken by the University’s New Technologies in Education Key Advisory Group.

CPD Certification

In recognition of the quality of many of its industry focussed short courses, the University received full membership of the CPD Certification Service providing recognised independent Continuous Professional Development accreditation compatible with global CPD principles.

Some goodbyes

This year has seen our collaborative ClimACT project draw to a close. Over the past years, the local ClimACT tripartite has facilitated a series of workshops for teachers in order to discuss and exchange ideas around the topic of Education for Sustainable Development. As a result of these seminars, teachers themselves have shaped the aim, structure and operation of the framework for Gibraltar, this being the inception of Sustainable Schools Gibraltar.

Sadly, this year we will say goodbye to Lord Luce who is stepping down as Chancellor of the University after four years in office. Lord Luce has been a great friend of Gibraltar and has been an asset to the University as its first Chancellor. His experience and expertise has been available to the University and this has been invaluable.

Recently, Lord Luce launched the Chancellor’s Annual Lecture at the University. The inaugural event was delivered by Lord Geidt on the monarchy and the Commonwealth.