We had a Service Quality Team meeting today - the group that oversees our Service Level Agreements - always a useful meeting and today we spent some time looking a the results of our staff and student surveys which we've carried out this year. Always easy to focus on where we've not done well and need to make improvements, but we also need to celebrate those areas where we perform well and get positive comments.
A hot topic at the moment is how we are going to deal with increasing financial constraints - how can we not just maintain service levels but innovate as well. The only way is by a controlled reduction in service in some areas to protect others, and today we discussed the effects of recent budget reductions and possible consequences at length.
I have been around long enough to remember many periods of financial pressure, and was reminded the other day that nothing is new. Does this sound familiar?
Meanwhile the financial question is a very serious one for all Universities at the present time, and all possible means of retrenchment are being considered. The Vice Chancellor of Leeds went so far as to say in July that he would not lay heavy odds on the survival of Sheffield or Leeds University.
That was taken from Floreamus, the Sheffield University magazine, in 1921, and sent from the VC's Office to the Director of Finance in 1988 with a note saying "things have always been desperate".
I'm pleased to say however that there was a note of optimism even then as the article finished with:
Our own Vice Chancellor refuses to be so despondent. He told an interviewer: "I am more hopeful; I believe as long as these Universities are fulfilling their purpose, they will get plenty of support". We have little doubt that this optimism will be justified.
Thanks to Matt, our records manager for unearthing this.