Lab expansion builds on York St John's Biosciences success

Published: 29/01/2021

Multi stream science hub tops off award-winning year.

A male student holding up a red petri dish

It has only been five years since Biosciences courses were first offered at York St John University and the department has already established itself as a leading provider. 2020 saw success in national league tables, with York St John ranked as one of the top universities for Biosciences nationally at 16 out of 105 in the Guardian league tableAn amazing achievement for this newly established subject area2021 has already begun with news that all programmes have been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. 

The last few months have also seen high level recognition for the University’s Biosciences academic staffThe Royal Society of Biology and Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) named our Associate Head of School for Biosciences Dr Sue Jones HE Bioscience Teacher of the Year 2020Sue was recognised for ensuring that all students on the programmes achieve excellent outcomes, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, entry qualifications and first-in-family status.  

Dr Katharine Hubbard, Reader in Bioscience Education, SFHEA, NTF and member of the judging panel said: “Dr Sue Jones is an inspirational biosciences educator, and a very deserving winner of the RSB HE Bioscience Teacher Award (2020). I was impressed with her application which focused on inclusive programme design and leadership. Sue's case study demonstrated excellent understanding of curriculum design principles, assessment scaffolding and how programmes can support the needs of a diverse cohort. To design a programme from scratch, recruit a programme team and to have equality of outcomes for students from underrepresented backgrounds was impressive. Sue is an excellent contributor to the wider UK Bioscience education community, and a real advocate for student-centred programme design.”  

York St John’s Biomedical Science programme is now dual accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) and the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) and all Applied Biosciences programmes also gained RSB accreditation in January 2021. They combine industry links, laboratory training and transferable skills that are already providing excellent routes into employment. This has proved especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduates from the first three cohorts are now working in a variety of bioscience roles that support the efforts against the pandemic, including COVID-19 testing and on vaccine development at AstraZenecaYork St John also offers direct support with training for current NHS staff in Yorkshire and Humberwith a new programme of degree apprenticeships. 

Caroline Redgrave, Laboratory Supervisor Covance Laboratories Limited said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working with York St John University. I would recommend any employer to use YSJ for the apprenticeship scheme. Sue has been nothing but supportive with our apprentices. She is always on hand to answer any questions our management team may have. YSJ regularly keeps in contact and provides regular feedback on our apprentices' performance. 

As the Bioscience subject area continues to grow and build on this success, students will be able to make use of new and expanded laboratory facilitiesThe labs includfurther research space for academic staff in addition to more teaching laboratory space to accommodate our expanding programmes in Biomedical Science and Applied Biosciences. Opening in the next few weeks, the new laboratory space will underpin the practical and technical training for both local employees completing degree apprenticeships and growing student cohorts.   

Dr Sue Jones said: “This significant investment is both timely and important in our continued development of local scientists for the future. Given the impact on all our lives of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to be training future NHS practitioners and graduate scientists who will go on to work in research and development roles that underpin further advances and developments in disease identification, testing and diagnosis”. 

Find out more about Bioscience Degree Apprenticeships at York St John in the Laboratory Scientist Booklet (PDF 1.4 MB) and Healthcare Science booklet (PDF 1.2 MB).

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