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Academic Strategy

In Strategic plan

In Strategic plan

Our vision

To be recognised for our intellectual contribution to the local and regional creative/digital and foundational economies through our approach to education, research (with enterprise, innovation and impact) and professional practice. In doing so, we will provide opportunities to critique and challenge disadvantage in order to enhance social mobility.

Strategy purpose

  • To provide a coherent framework to ensure academic credibility and financial sustainability: making its whole greater than the sum of its constituent parts.
  • It focuses on the academic integrity of all of us as learners aspiring to be excellent, through aligning our strengths in learning and teaching, curriculum, research and scholarship and external engagement within our communities.
  • It builds our University’s reputation by ensuring our courses are recognised as being innovative and cutting edge, enriched by our research (and vice versa) and by maintaining links with our communities, partners and industry.

Delivering our vision

1. By ensuring a consistent educational philosophy in our learning and teaching approaches that:

  • Enables students to develop skills to be life-long and life-wide learners, recognising our students may have differential starting points.
  • Builds strong expectations about students’ successful-future-selves and promotes student self-reflection and awareness of their journey throughout by creating opportunities for co-creation
  • Utilises/builds/critiques the application of digital technologies.
  • Builds on innovative pedagogies that enhance social mobility, promotes confidence-building and belonging as key pre-requisites that enhance resilience.
  • Stretches boundaries of disciplinary studies and promoting inter-/trans-disciplinary learning by providing students with personal experience of delivering solutions to societal issues through phenomenon-based learning.
  • Includes student employment/employability opportunities as an integral part of their course.

2. By developing and implementing our ‘Connected Curriculum Continuum’ (C³) which:

  • Delivers our educational philosophy and augments connections between our education and research. It will build from research/professional-practice informed education in Levels 4 and 5, to the co-creation of research and professional practice (Level 6 onwards), through students working with our staff and employers. It will enable us to remain responsive to the needs of employers, supporting the upskilling of current workforce and creating graduates for employment and societal needs.

3. By developing our research (with enterprise and innovation) so that we will be known as a leading UK Modern University for research and its impact, by:

  • Ensuring we are creating knowledge and new ways of thinking in areas where we are offering cutting-edge education. 
  • Developing areas of internationally recognised expertise, evidenced by critical mass (REF, citation data and grant successes).
  • Attracting, retaining and developing high quality staff.
  • Linking with relevant centres of excellence and key facilities nationally and internationally.

4. By developing the size and shape of our academic portfolio to:

  • Deliver key commitments in our strategic vision associated with promoting social mobility and our role as a connected civic community, by promoting courses in priority economic areas.
  • Honour existing external strategic commitments relating to our education, research and knowledge exchange, including deliverables relating to the Catalyst Project (to 2028) and our Access and Participation Plan (to 2025).
  • Grow our postgraduate offer in priority areas to extend the education and research pipeline at level 7 and 8.
  • To evaluate the Size and Shape of our Academic Portfolio 2030 regularly with our Board of Governors.

Key enablers

  • Embedding evaluation and evidence-based decision-making throughout our work

    Including scoping and piloting new initiatives within the context of current sector knowledge and leading educational research; operating highest research governance and ethical standards and processes in all evaluation work and use of data; implementing our 10-point data-driven and evidence-based evaluation framework throughout the life-cycle of all proposals, projects and initiatives; deploying rich datasets  to support evaluation and decision-making.
  • Developing new approaches to staffing and developing people

    Including investing/delivering training and staff development for academic staff to support existing and emerging career trajectories and to broaden their skills and experience to develop confidence and expertise; developing career progression routes that recognise and reward work by academic staff (at all stages of their career) to develop and embed evidence-informed approaches to learning and teaching; shifting our staff recruitment arrangements to increase the ethnic and gender diversity of our staff, particularly in management and leadership roles; continuously seeking and embracing opportunities to free staff time to devote to higher-level and quality academic/academic-related work in accordance with this Strategy; broadening the geographical reach and talent pool of professional services staff and supporting their development, including developing rich understandings of the range of approaches and HE contexts in the UK and internationally; recruiting, rewarding and developing groups of student expert designers and creating other models to employ students to support institutional projects and delivery of our Academic Strategy.
  • Developing and evaluating innovative delivery models

    Including offering structured flexibly, shaped by leading and relevant educational research; pacing appropriate to the needs of our learners; digitally-enabled blended learning to create and sustain learning communities to maximise face-to-face and social interactions; using tested learning platforms to extend the range of learning outcomes, making our students technologically and digitally proficient; piloting and evaluating new delivery modes and adjustments to our academic frameworks and established practice, to promote learning and good student outcomes.

Put simply, our Academic Strategy 2030 is designed to empower our students to tackle the problems of today, whilst envisaging solutions for those of the future before they occur.