AS far as Emma Hunt is concerned, it's all about having an edge. And innovating.

She is the Deputy Vice Chancellor at Arts University Bournemouth and very proud of the institution, its heritage, track record and forward thinking approach.

"We are having a huge cultural influence locally but also nationally," she said. "There are only about half a dozen specialist arts universities in the country and relatively speaking we have quite a big school with around 4,000 students. We punch way above our weight in everything we do.

"Our employability is second to none and that's because our curriculum is grounded in real life, with links to the business world.

"We have had a graduate employment rate of 97% over the past five years so we really turn creativity into careers.

"We seamlessly replicate the real world and we invest great resources into our courses."

The courses at AUB include everything from art and design to acting, animation production, architecture, costume and performance design, to dance, fashion, creative writing, graphic design and photography. Emma's own background is in design.

The creative industries are worth a staggering £92 billion a year to the UK and are currently growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy.

But global competition is stronger than ever.

"The one thing this country needs more than anything is competitive advantage and that is why there is such a focus for us on innovation," she said.

"All our students are inherently creative and what we do is help their ideas into reality and that's always the hardest part.

"How do you make great ideas work? We have EU and Local Enterprise Partnership funding to push the whole innovation story forward."

AUB is developing an Innovation Studio helping students take their ideas into the marketplace, hopefully with pro bono support from marketeers, banks, the legal profession and others.

"We have a whole world of opportunity. We are not short of ideas. But want we want to ensure that those ideas are good for society. The ethos of design for good underlies so much of what we do."

Emma said: "We are a new university, only getting degree awarding status is 2012. But the roots of AUB actually go back to 1880 as there has been an art school in Bournemouth since that time. I think it's wonderful the borough has been supporting the institution in all its forms since those first days."

Another key member of the AUB leadership team is retired general, Nick Welch, now Chief Operating Officer for the past 14 months.

He was in the military for 34 years, joining the Gloucestershire Regiment as a young officer and serving through the ranks, finishing as the Assistant Chief of the General Staff in London having commanded at every level up to that point including in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Northern Ireland and with the UN in Africa.

He said: "I ran the Army Staff College and in the military and if you are not on operations you are training, so that's in my nature I think. I was embedded in the policy end of it and the higher education sector is going through significant policy change at the moment, so I think those skill sets match quite neatly.

"So I came here and found it to be quite a remarkable institution.

"This has a very high academic standards, students win awards at the highest level, it has one of the highest employment rates of any higher education institute, it is a gold standard university and the challenge is to protect the good things here, but to deliver them efficiently.

"Mine is a new post. The institution has grown with degree awarding status and the business side of things has become much bigger and that required someone to coordinate it. So I oversee everything from finance, to recruitment and marketing to HR, IT and estates.

"We are building 300-bed halls of residence and the Innovation Studio and that's a demonstration of our confidence but also of the needs of students coming on courses."

He added: "The priority is providing the very best day to day experience for the students and making sure we spent money wisely.

"The faculties get the resources they need and our students leave here highly employable and statistically that's proven. It is all very real world here.

"What we provide here is not just a hub for the arts, but a basis for innovation. We provide young enterprises and a strong vibrant youth population. Sometimes I think our conversations with the community don't reflect that enough. We have an amazing story to tell."

*AUB has appointed Professor Paul Gough as its new Vice-Chancellor.

He joins from RMIT, based in Melbourne, where he is currently Pro-Vice Chancellor and Vice-President of RMIT’s College of Design and Social Context. He was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at UWE, Bristol and prior to that, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts, Design and Media at the same institution.

He retains the title Royal West of England Academy Professor of Fine Arts.

At RMIT, Professor Gough has led a major expansion of the College of Design and Social Context, and established major strategic collaborations across the creative industries, and with public and private sector organisations.