The 2023 review of the year
As we approach the final leg of this year, it's time to reflect on the past 12 months and highlight the incredible efforts seen from across the University. 2023 has seen a huge amount of remarkable achievements by colleagues, students, and our broader community. The University of Manchester has much to celebrate. Join us in revisiting our many accomplishments in The Review of Year 2023.
The new year kicked off with a suitably wintery research story which revealed that that glaciers formed in the highest mountains of Antarctica at least 60 million years ago, which is 30 million years earlier than previously thought. Meanwhile, medical scientists discovered a rare variant of a protein present in nearly all human cells may hold the key to improving the effectiveness of breast cancer treatment. A University spin-out, Molymem, also began its mission to enable cleaner water supplies for the world's growing demand. Elsewhere, Archaeologists made the headlines with discoveries which shed new light on the communities who inhabited Britain after the end of the last Ice Age.
February began with the UK celebrating 75 years of India’s independence which saw four University alumni honoured for their achievements as Indian citizens who have found success following academic careers in the UK. Graphene research continued to show new unique benefits the 2D-material has in adsorbing contaminants from water to purify it. The University also contributed to the city’s ‘Excellent’ rating by UNESCO as a Creative City of Literature. We also saw a world-first with a new genetic test developed to establish if a newborn baby is vulnerable to deafness. To end February the University and the Cowrie Foundation also announced that more than 100 financially disadvantaged Black British students were to have their university tuition fees fully funded by a new scholarship programme.
As part of our sector-leading £9m fund of financial support for students The University of Manchester provided payments to 10,000 students to further help with the cost of living crisis. The UK government also announced a new £1m prize for artificial intelligence named after The University of Manchester’s invention of the first stored program computer in 1948, the University also received major funding for AI projects. March also saw one of our most-read stories with scientists creating a new material, dubbed ‘StarCrete’ which is made from extra-terrestrial dust, potato starch, and a pinch of salt and could be used to build homes on Mars. The University of Manchester again retained its position as the most targeted university by the UK’s top 100 recruiters, according to a report compiled by High Fliers Research.
April began with an innovative new student education programme led by the University aimed at reducing recreational drug use, one of several projects awarded money from a £5 million government innovation fund. Elsewhere scientists at the University and skincare brand No7 announced the creation of a new ‘super peptide’ blend proven to bio-hack the skin’s natural repair process, after 15 years of research. A new partnership was created between the Raheem Sterling Foundation, The University of Manchester and King’s College London offering scholarships in a bid to help close the attainment gap for Black British Students, increase social mobility, and support equal access to higher education. More award news also saw two researchers win a 2023 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science UK & Ireland Rising Talents Award, which celebrates outstanding women post-doctoral scientists and Jodrell Bank's spectacular new First Light Pavilion win top honours at the prestigious Civic Trust Awards.
As Spring took hold May saw a host of honours for staff and notable students. Professor David Olusoga OBE was presented with a BAFTA Special Award for outstanding contribution to television. The career of Manchester alumna Meera Syal was also recognised by BAFTA as she was given their highest Fellowship award at their glittering ceremony in London. We also announced that UK Biobank, the world’s most significant source of data and biological samples for health researchers, is to move to Manchester with support from the University.
2023 was a good year for University rankings and award wins, the first of June saw the University ranked number 1 in the UK, number 1 in Europe and second in the world for social and environmental impact. The ranking meant the University is the only institution in the world to rank in the top 10 in every year the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings have existed. It was also announced that the University will lead an international team to build and demonstrate a new technology to produce syngas and pure hydrogen with nearly zero direct carbon dioxide emissions. Congratulations to staff were also after the King's Birthday Honours was revealed for 2023, with University academics once again featuring in the prestigious list. Professor of Sociology, Gary Younge, also won The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023.
Leading researchers from across the University started July by giving their support to a global initiative endorsed by King Charles III promoting the sustainable use of space. New details and images of the forthcoming £1.7bn innovation district, ID Manchester were also revealed for the first time. A new University Environmental Sustainability Strategy was published to provide guidance on the actions the University will take as it works towards its zero carbon 2038 target. On the same theme the University’s expertise in offshore renewables, hydrogen integration, energy networks and energy demand will be used in the creation of four multi-million pound research centres to drive forward change in the energy sector and help to meet the UK’s net zero target by 2050.
An innovative display of research data caught attentions in August as a unique league table ranking of child health by football team area has further showed the dramatic health divide between the North and the South. Astronomy enthusiasts’ imaginations were also captured as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has recorded breath-taking new images of the iconic Ring Nebula, also known as Messier 57. In teaching and learning news an optometry team were awarded the University’s first-ever Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by Advance HE, alongside two academics who received National Teaching Fellowships. This year’s National Student Survey results were announced in August too, the University was found to provide an intellectually stimulating teaching environment with the engagement rate increasing to 74% of final year undergraduate students at our university completing the survey.
The start of the new academic year began with a bang as we celebrate another three awards and honours. The University of Manchester has been named as one of the top universities in Europe, according to the first ever edition of the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024. The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2024 were unveiled too, showcasing The University of Manchester's improved position at 51 in the world out of more than 1,900 institutions. While the University also celebrated its Gold and Silver achievements in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023. Elsewhere, we saw Manchester Museum return Aboriginal artefacts in special ceremony and a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute explored highlighted the University’s positive action on cost-of-living support.
October saw the annual Foundation Day celebrations take place marking the coming together of the Victoria University of Manchester and The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 2004. New partnerships with North American institutions Vassar College, Xavier University, and Spelman College were announced too. Meanwhile, engineers were hard at work building and flying the world’s largest quadcopter drone and medical trials showed promise for a new blood test to potentially help identify Alzheimer’s disease.
The University of Manchester was been awarded a Silver Race Equality Charter Award – one of only two Higher Education Institutions in the UK to now hold this award. Northern Gritstone, the investment business focused on university spin-outs and IP-rich businesses in the North of England, announced a final close of £312m, anchored by investments from local authority pension funds. New research showed exercise at consistent times could help re-align your body clocks for better skeletal health and performance. Finally, November also saw the official opening the flagship building of The Christabel Pankhurst Institute, to further on Manchester’s academic strengths in AI, digital health and advanced materials to support the research and development of innovative technology-based health and care solutions.
Coming to the end of a hugely busy year full of achievements we say goodbye to 2023 with yet more notable recognitions for the University. The University secured top prize at the Green Gown Awards, first place in the UK and Europe, and third in the world in the QS World University Sustainability Rankings, and a Platinum Engage Watermark for public engagement excellence. This raft of recognition was followed by the news that our President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nancy Rothwell had been recognised by the Times Higher Education Awards for Outstanding Achievement. Finally, the University ended the year by announcing that Professor Duncan Ivison has been appointed as the next President & Vice-Chancellor. He will formally take up his role as President & Vice-Chancellor on 1 August 2024.
As we look forward to 2024, the University will be hosting a year-long celebration to recognise its 200 years. The Bicentenary year will celebrate our unique history, our people, their incredible achievements and the impact they’ve made, in Manchester and around the world. The special year for The University of Manchester will kick off with ‘Light Up’, a free evening of illumination, poetry and performance on 17 January. So there it is, another remarkable and outstanding year at The University of Manchester, made possible by our exceptional staff and students. Huge gratitude to every member of our community for their immense contributions, culminating in a list of remarkable accomplishments for yet another stellar year. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.