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Professor Phil Wright, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering, provides an update on the Science and Engineering Excellence project and the Faculty's reorganisation. 

After more than two years’ work, the Science and Engineering Excellence project will realise the reorganisation of the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering on 01 August. Many colleagues across the University will have heard a great deal about the planned changes to SAgE but it seemed appropriate to update and re-present what will happen.

The reorganisation of SAgE is greater than a Faculty-level project. We seek to establish greater and deeper links throughout the University, increasing our range of world-leading work and fostering more innovation in our teaching, research and engagement. Increased intra- and inter-Faculty working, joined-up estates planning, and shared strategic investment should combine throughout the University to foster a greater international profile, increased success and, crucially, increased colleague satisfaction whilst sustaining the friendliness and civic-mindedness that we all value.

One of most apparent impacts of the reorganisation will be our change from ten units to five:

•            School of Computing

•            School of Engineering

•            School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

•            School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

•            Newcastle University Singapore

Singapore has, of course, been operating as a stand-alone unit for some time. But a new joint undergraduate teaching agreement with Singapore Institute of Technology, coupled with the opening of our Research and Innovation Institute (NewRIIS) in the city state make Singapore a strong, burgeoning aspect of the University.

Part of Science and Engineering Excellence has been an extensive reorganisation of the Professional Services (PS) in the Faculty. I’d like to take this chance to extend particular thanks to my PS colleagues throughout the SAgE schools and Faculty office. Such significant change brings with it challenges and concerns and the reorganisation of PS has been unsettling for many. The aim is to create a more resilient, better-supported professional team throughout the Faculty and I am sure that individuals, as well as the University, will see the benefit of the changes.

Part of our work in recent months has been to work with colleagues throughout the Faculty to identify and articulate what our Faculty is, what it does best, and where it is going. Our history, interdisciplinary research and teaching, and global vision are the common themes that staff across all job families and discipline areas identified and they are what we will be building upon particularly.

It is important that the reorganisation is realised and any teething problems experienced are overcome. Although successful in many ways there are a number of challenges facing the Faculty in its current form including decreasing QR income and research market share, increasing pressure in student recruitment, lack of resilience in many of our systems and practices, and ageing estate and facilities. Our new organisation will allow us to tackle and overcome these challenges and help to shape the next generation of the Faculty’s success.

In coming weeks, we will be visiting various teams across the University to share our new organisation in more detail and highlight the new ways in which we hope to work not just within the Faculty, but across the University and beyond.

I hope that everybody throughout the University will be able to enjoy a break of some form over the summer and I look forward to presenting an update and initial reflections on our reorganisation in one of next academic year’s early NU Connections.

Professor Phillip Wright, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering


published on: 10th July 2017


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