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News from City, University of London

Meet the Dean

In conversation with Professor Andrew Jones, Dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences

It has been a busy 18 months for Professor Andrew Jones. Since joining City in August 2012, he has overseen the recruitment of more than 20 research excellent academic staff, been a member of the HEFCE REF 2014 Panel for Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology and led the School through the first stages of the University's Strategic Plan.

We caught up with him to find out his thoughts on his first 18 months with City and what he is looking forward to next.

How would you describe your first 18 months here at City?

Andrew JonesIt has been very exciting and very busy! The University is a very dynamic place, it is moving forward quickly and I am delighted to be a part of it.

There has been a lot of change happening, which means my diary has been frenetic at times; but there is a real sense of achievement that comes with that. The School has had some resounding successes and I am proud to be a part of it.

As part of City's Strategic Plan, the School recruited research excellent academic staff across all departments, contributing to the 160 that have arrived at City over the last couple of years. It is inspiring to be surrounded by so many brilliant academics and hearing about their research and ideas.

Also, as part of the Strategic Plan, the School has received significant investment in buildings and estates. We have brand new TV and radio studios, as well as the new Baby Lab.

What would you say has been the most rewarding thing to happen in the last 18 months?

I think the most rewarding thing has to be the results of the last National Student Survey (NSS).

Three of our undergraduate courses, Music, Psychology and Politics performed exceptionally well - Music scored 100% and was rated  top in the UK, Psychology, 99% and joint top and Politics also scored 99% and third in the UK, with the majority of our courses scoring above average. All in all I was thrilled with the School's contribution to City having one of the most improved NSS scores in England.

These results are testament to colleagues across the School and their hard work.

Can you tell us about any significant developments for the School?

Back in October last year it was announced that City would be one of 15 UK Universities to receive a share of £19.5 million to invest in social sciences research methods.

The Q-Step Centre at City is part of an ambitious intervention to address a critical shortage of social scientists with the high-level quantitative skills needed for the analysis of complex data. It will give social science undergraduates the opportunity to develop quantitative skills, that they can use in their workplaces in the future, and provide the unique opportunity of working with different types of data from many countries.

The Centre is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Higher Education Funding Council in England (HEFCE).

Then, not even two months later, in early December we received the fantastic news that the European Social Survey (ESS), hosted here at the Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, had been awarded European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) status.

The ESS becomes the first organisation hosted in the UK to be awarded such status. The status means that the ESS can look forward to many years of funding stability and will bring leading social scientists from across Europe together to research issues such as perceptions of justice, attitudes to democracy and healthcare.

To give you an idea of how important this status is, one other research consortium to be awarded ERIC status is CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider!

So what will you look forward to next?

I'm looking forward to the results of the REF later on this year. The School submitted to six different research areas and I'm confident we will get a good result.

After the REF submission we are now looking to build on the tremendous research base here in the School. One of my main aims is to encourage faculty to contribute to the interdisciplinary aims of the University. This means encouraging research not just inter-departmentally across City, but to encourage collaborations between faculty from across different Schools. We're also seeing increasing research grant success with this interdisciplinary approach, with colleagues attracting funding from research councils, the European Union and other funding bodies.

For me personally, I've just finished a project examining business services in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Now I have the data, I now need to complete the subsequent papers and book!

I am also speaking at a number of conferences in the UK and internationally. Later this year I'm giving papers at the International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP) conference in Paris and also the European Association for Research on Services (RESER) International Conference in Helsinki, Finland in September.

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