The Vice-Chancellor, Professor David VandeLinde and the President of the Students' Union, John Dubber discuss issues surrounding Warwick today.
"What is special about Warwick as a university?"
John - The atmosphere, as I said in my speech to the freshers, Warwick is a friendly and welcoming place."
David - I agree with that. I have only been here for a couple of months but I sense the same thing a very collegiate atmosphere. It is very important for students and staff to understand that everyone has a role in the University and understands it.
Also, diversity; we have students from over 114 countries in a University where everyone can make a contribution in a different way. There is a sense right from the University Council down that this diversity is to be respected and valued as it is this that makes us part of the international community.
John - In addition Warwick is a progressive institution that is forward looking, not to mention the fact that it has an excellent Students' Union!
David - Yes indeed, it is one of the very best in the country and that represents a challenge: to balance the social atmosphere and social opportunities that are provided to students with supporting them in taking full academic advantage of the entire University.
"Why is research important at Warwick?"
John - From the student perspective you are learning from people carrying out research at the cutting edge and this enhances your learning experience whilst also giving your degree additional status and improving your employability.
David - Teaching and research are not in conflict. A university is a community of scholars with a continuum between its students and staff. Research is and should be a significant focus if a university is to fulfil the educational model in its most complete form.
"Do you see the student learning experience changing over the next few years?"
David - For 18-year-old resident students that experience will continue because there is a very real reason to "go away to university". The learning experience is much broader than traditional lectures. Practical sessions, peer group interaction, chatting to lecturers in corridors and meeting other students to discuss ideas over coffee are all vital activities and therefore the future of the residential university experience is sound.
It is important that the educational experience is dominated as much by learning to be a critical thinker as it is by packing one?s head with intellectual knowledge. But we are in the 21st century and the job market is changing rapidly. We have to ensure that we also prepare our graduates for their future careers in the real world.
John - Would you say then that there is an increased need for transferable skills and vocational degrees?
David - We overplay transferable skills as a primary focus for progress.
They are very important but should be embedded within the university experience regardless of degree subject. Whilst students may study a particular degree subject in depth, it has to be recognised that they are unlikely to use that alone in their career and therefore a need arises, not just for transferable skills, but for a transferable education. One that allows students to assimilate knowledge, develop opinions, analyse the opinions of others, be critical and think reflectively.