University of Leicester School of Business celebrates significant growth

University of Leicester School of Business (Credit: University of Leicester)

Over the last 18 months the University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB) has undergone extensive changes and experienced significant growth.

Building on over 90 years of delivering business education, the School of Business is the largest school within the University and is internationally renowned for its courses and research.

It has been almost two years since the opening of the new dedicated home for the School of Business, Brookfield – a £15.8m investment in student experience.

Professor of Finance, Daniel Ladley, took over the role as Dean of the School of Business in November 2021, and in this special feature he talks us through some of the key changes.

Higher quantity and quality of academics

I’m proud to say that the number of professors within ULSB has doubled over the last 18 months, which is an incredible feat. Over this period we have welcomed more than 90 permanent academics, 20 of which are professors.

On this front we have achieved both quality and quantity, as the calibre of the academics we have recruited has been incredible. We have hired staff from many prestigious universities – both in the UK and beyond – including Stanford University in the US, and top universities in Spain, Turkey, France and Germany.

I believe that this comes down to the fact that we are offering something very attractive here at Brookfield – there’s a lot of buzz nationally about it being a truly great place to work.

A couple of our academics who have recently joined the School had this to say…

Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology, Maria Karanika-Murray (joined November 2022), said:

“ULSB combines excellence and rigour in what we do with emotional intelligence. It's a very very well-led school, has clear aspirations and core values that we all care about, and places people (staff, students, customers) at the heart of these. I have found a home at ULSB and am working with strong thinkers to deliver meaningful research with all the support I need and with excellent educators to shape our business leaders across the world.”

Professor of Finance, Ania Zalewska (joined February 2023), said:

“Since joining ULSB I have found it so energizing to be surrounded by friendly people with a common purpose to deliver top quality research and teaching. It is a great team to be part of and I am really looking forward to working together and continuing to make the School an inspiring place to belong to.”

A growing student body

As well as academics our student body has also grown significantly, having welcomed just shy of 1,000 first year students this September – our largest cohort yet, compared to approximately 450 third year students who graduated in the summer.

We have also seen a big growth in masters, distance learning and PhD students. In 2021, we had just four PhD students, compared to over 25 this academic year.

Professor Daniel Ladley, Dean of University of Leicester School of Business and Professor of Finance (Credit: University of Leicester)

Committed to equal opportunities

Another thing I’m particularly proud of is our strengthened commitment to providing equal opportunities for all.

When I was appointed as Dean, there were no female professors in the School. I’m now pleased to say that there are eight, making up nearly 25% of our total number of professors in line with the national average. During this period, we have been awarded the Athena Swan Bronze Award, showcasing our commitment to gender equality for all students and members of staff. We submitted this application two years ago in which we aimed for at least 22% of our professors to be female over the course of a five-year plan – and we have already managed to surpass this target in just over a year.

At the same time, we have done a lot of work to make the School as welcoming and supportive as possible for everyone through groups such as ULSB Black Excellence, Women in Economics, , Finance and Accounting (WEFA), Women’s Inspiration Network (WIN) and the School EDI Committee.

Of course, there is still a long way to go, but I am extremely proud that the School is fostering a more inclusive environment to work and study in.

Transforming our research culture

I can only report positively on the research front too.

The School has seen a big increase in the number of research applications being submitted, which we hope will translate into an increase in the number of research awards being granted in the coming weeks and months.

By bringing in such a high calibre of academics, we have been able to transform our research culture to align with our new staff and their expertise. We have therefore relaunched the areas of research we aim to be renowned for, and have opened three new research clusters covering our headline areas:

- The future of work
- Work, performance and justice
- Behavioural and economic science

We have also made major investments in data analytics, entrepreneurship, healthcare management, risk and finance among others, and have built strong connections with our research institutes to raise the School’s profile both inside and outside the University.

Having established such a strong research culture, we are striving to maximise and improve on our performance in the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), after being ranked 27th in the UK for research power in REF2021.

Major ambitions for the future

Off of the back of these successes, I am feeling extremely positive about the future of the School of Business.

I am confident that we will continue on this positive trajectory and keep building for the future. It is our ambition now to become a top 25 business school in the country, to provide an excellent student experience and to be internationally known for our key research areas.

We will achieve this by continuing to recruit top-quality students and staff to make ULSB the best it can possibly be.