Lancaster’s School of Health and Medicine shows much promise, but still has a long way to go

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While the School of Health and Medicine (SHM) is a new feature in the landscape of Lancaster University, it has grown very quickly and is now very dynamic. Through its four divisions (namely: Biomedical and Life Sciences, CETAD, Health Research, and Medicine) it offers to both undergraduate and postgraduate students a rich range of taught and research programmes covering various disciplines such as psychology, bioscience, medicine, sociology, statistics, geography and management. This diversity is a strength of the School and has allowed it to enjoy an outstanding reputation. Some difficulties are however left to be overcome in order for the School to establish itself more firmly.

In comparison with other Schools or Faculties within the University such as the Management School for instance, the budget and resources of the SHM remain relatively restricted. This forces the School to be very selective in terms of its development and investment strategies. Some students would like to have access to more equipment and resources, and would clearly be in favour of renovating some of the premises which many feel are too dated and like a labyrinth. Others, and particularly research students, have pointed out that a more spacious and better situated study space would be very beneficial to them. Another point to mention regarding the challenges that the SHM is facing, is the creation of an infrastructure that would gather together its four divisions within one location. Spreading the school over the University campus does not help to encourage social relationships among students and can also make the accomplishment of certain administrative tasks inconvenient.

This being so, the SHM having only been formally established in August 2008, and thus being still in its infancy in terms of infrastructural development, it appears entirely legitimate that these details remain to be solved. Anecdotally, some of the current students have revealed extremely positive comments. Indeed, the professional rigour and the level of commitment of both the teaching and administrative staff are clearly felt by a great majority of students, who have expressed a notable pride in being affiliated with the School. Some have for instance expressed a particular appreciation regarding the fact that external speakers are regularly solicited to visit the School and share their knowledge and experience on numerous subjects. The training opportunities frequently offered and the collaborations set up with other universities and local hospitals are also strong points that students have said to value. Last but certainly not least, the warming atmosphere and the supportive working environment within which each of the members of the School evolve creates an almost familial atmosphere that is appreciated by students and staff alike.

All in all, the flourishing dynamism of the School, and the enthusiasm of its members regarding the teaching and research quality, but also the important number of ongoing projects (e.g. the development of new programmes, enlargement and refurbishment of the premises) or projects just being realized (the recent creation of The Centre for Ageing research “C4AR” for instance) suggest a very promising future for the School.

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