Our Strategic Intent
In 2012, we launched an ambitious University Plan,
created in consultation with everyone at the University.
The mission was clear: to provide high quality, accessible
higher education for our students. Over the past two
years this mission and our values have been embedded
throughout the work we have undertaken.
Despite operating in a substantially more challenging
environment than back in 2011 when the Plan was
crafted, we are making improvement and progress in
many areas. However, we are not hitting the student
recruitment and retention targets we set. Indeed, we
have significantly under-recruited against our overall
student targets. This presents us with a substantial
financial challenge that we need to address speedily.
We need to re-look at our ambitions, re-think and
transform the type of University we are and outline the
choices we need to make to move the University forward.
Our strengths are in the academic wealth of our
programmes and scholarship and research and our
commitment to inspirational teaching and learning; a
portfolio of awards that combines academic theory with
a real-world, outwardly-focussed attitude and approach;
a partnership business model that enables us to
perform globally; and a university community of brilliant
and committed staff. We keep our promises and we
must continue to deliver our promises to our students,
at all levels.
Understanding the Challenges
However, we all also need to acknowledge that we
recognise the challenges that we face and that we are
ready to meet them with a transformative approach to
what we will do and what we will be.
The external pressures we have, through policy changes
and heightened competitiveness in the sector, have been
particularly difficult to meet as successfully as we would
have liked. Our internal challenges have been about a
long-term lack of investment in resources including the
estate, student experience and in modern-day business
practices. We also, as an institution, have not invested
the time in defining who we are, so our distinctiveness
has not been clear, resulting in awareness of us dwindling
over the years.
Infrastructure – We have an eclectic estate located across
the region with little capital investment prior to 2012.
The focus and investment with the Science Centre, whilst
creating a powerhouse of STEM in the North Midlands,
has meant that perhaps fundamental investments were
ignored. Since 2012 we have spent a further £11m to get
us fit for purpose but the on-going maintenance to be on
a par with our competitors is going to be hard. We now
have the medium to long term vision for our estate.
Inward-facing – Successful businesses are always looking
to the future. They are always horizon scanning. We
need to be far more inventive and thoughtful in planning
future business models, ensuring we review external
intelligence - as well as our own evidence. We needed
sustainable operational, financial and strategic models
in our business sooner. We are now investing in our
business processes but there is much more work to
be done.
Reputation and Ranking – Operating in a more
competitive environment and living in a society that
aggressively benchmarks and compares constantly (on
digital platforms) has meant that there is far more scrutiny
on a University’s performance. Performance in the
National Student Survey and employability are now vital
to decision-makers when assessing a University. We only
started concentrating on our league table position two
years ago. Employability and NSS are now on the top
of our agenda. We have new brand messages for the
University to raise our profile and regain our reputation.
It is the responsibility of all of us to understand who and
what we are, and to explain this to the outside world.
Fragmented and Complex – Every University is an
intensely complex organisation. It has its civic and
academic duties to perform but with the current climate
and the reduction of traditional funding streams, we now
have to think long term about the financial sustainability
of the business. This demands that we be modern
in structure and that we are effective and efficient in
our use of all our resources. We must operate as a
business providing educational services and we must
maximise every income source. The creation of a clear
and distinctive proposition for the University will help
refocus and consolidate the activity of the University.
Current Performance
We have started 2014/15 in a challenging position.
We have had another year of reduced student numbers
across all areas of the university and all types of
Consequently, we need to review our expenditure for
this academic year and define Staffordshire University
for the future, which will demand transformative change
achieved at pace.
Staffordshire University is a vibrant, modern, relevant,
vocationally and professionally inspired University. This
will provide the framework on how we refocus and adapt
the University for the future. From this vision, detailed
plans will evolve and will be shared with the teams in the
University over the next few weeks and months. There are
three strands to this vision.
• We will be the best modern university in a student city in the heart of the country
Primarily based in Stoke-on-Trent, the University will have
a vibrant environment that is conducive to learning and
living. To be a successful city campus we need to be the
right size for the community to flourish. Our future is
to be a medium-sized, city-based University of at least
8,500 full time undergraduate students including more
than 1,200 international students from many parts of the
world, and particularly from our international education
partners. In our global partnership network, we will have
an impactful worldwide student population of more than
16,000 students,
• We will be known for our learning and teaching and our distinct and specialised portfolio
Strong learning and teaching and a
distinct and specialised portfolio
• We will create a responsive student-
orientated business
We will build upon our heritage and once again own
it in the University sector providing high quality higher
education that is based on teaching, scholarship and
knowledge exchange that equips graduates for their
futures through ensuring that they are subject experts
and ready for the world of work: employable or selfemployable.
We will be the best modern university in
a student city in the heart of the country.
We have the opportunity to create a new student city
for the future. Stoke-on-Trent is the most affordable and
most accessible university city in the Midlands. We have
the opportunity to promote a destination in which to
study; one that is shaped for today’s student and their
learning and social demands.
We will define more clearly our commitment to
Staffordshire and beyond by ensuring our locations
beyond the city are famous for specialised higher
education provision, ensuring our economic impact is
felt throughout the region as well as creating a global
We will be the most approachable University when
working with business and commercial partners. We
will strive to take part in optimising the success of
every business with which we work and create lifelong
relationships of mutual benefit. We will continue to work
hard to establish a strong stakeholder network including
City, County and Borough Councils, the LEPs and
Chamber of Commerce in order that our voice is heard
and that our expectations are met.
This is about creating a stronger and clearer University
community that will enable us to deliver our mission to
embrace the transformative nature of higher education
for individuals and communities through the provision
of high quality, accessible, higher education in today’s
To do this, we need to continue to guarantee that
our programmes will always have current and future
looking content and that they will be taught by current
practitioners and critical thinking academics. So, students
will truly be at the heart of all that we do.
The content of these programmes need to continue to
be relevant to our industrial, business and economic
sectors, providing the skills that future employers
demand and which are flexible to meet the needs
of students and employers. Work-based learning
partnerships with national and international businesses
and organisations are an opportunity that we will
maximise, building on our strengths.
We will work harder on flexible learning models and we
will constantly be exploring new ideas, new curricula, and
new approaches to learning so that we remain modern
and relevant.
Our priority is to deliver excellence in teaching. We are
already creating the culture where we deliver ‘putting
students at the heart of everything we do.’ Our mantra
for the student learning experience must be: Recruit and
Retain, Challenge and Support, Achieve and Employ.
• Recruit and Retain means the obligation to recruit students with potential who can take advantage of what we have to offer and to retain them for the duration of their programme.
• Challenge and Support means the obligation to provide excellent programmes that stretch
our students, delivered by critical thinking, pedagogically advanced, and scholarship and research active academics, and supported in their
learning through people, and fit for purpose kit and estate.
• Achieve and Employ means that we support our students to achieve the best that they can, fulfilling their potential and that we help them in their ambitions to be employed or self employed.
We have clear areas of strength. We must ensure that we
capitalise on them. Our areas of strength will generate
our flagship programmes which will enable us to be:
The leading professional and business centre
in the region
The powerhouse for STEM in the region
Dedicated to the future health and social care
The driving force of the creative knowledge
economy for the region
Creating a responsive student-orientated
business operation
Delivering excellence has to be our priority. This means
we need to create an infrastructure to support our
well qualified, enthusiastic teaching staff and develop
the culture for everyone to commit to continuous
development, continual improvement and learning and
teaching and to scholarship, research and knowledge
exchange. Additionally, our investment priorities will
continue to be student and learning: modern equipment,
fit for purpose facilities and an estate that engenders
This will mean that we need constantly to evolve and
streamline our management structure in order that it is
focused on student delivery and student performance.
Our management will be delivery-focused, supportive,
challenging, and encouraging of high performing teams.
We need to ensure that we create an environment where
everyone understands their responsibility in delivering
excellence. For all of us, as well as being technically
skilled and being able to inspire trust and confidence,
we need to have the attitudes and behaviours to want
to meet and exceed targets and be always focused on
the success of our institution and our students. We will
want to identify opportunities and make suggestions for
continual improvement across the university, as well as
being individually committed to personal improvement.
We will attract students by being efficient, swift, and sales
orientated in our recruitment processes. We have to use
evidence and research to ensure we are able to adapt to
market changes when required and ensure we embrace
digital and social media channels to communicate and
promote the University.
We will utilise the benefits of technology, endeavour
always to be efficient and effective, be business-like,
focused on customer excellence, and seek for continuous
improvement. Everyone at the University will be expected
to use and understand business intelligence, reporting,
analysis and benchmarking and to understand and
operate in a digital environment.
We will be bold, positive and outward looking in what we
do. We want others to know what we do and to share in
our achievements.
Reduce University expenditure in line with a declining
student population and our current income forecasts.
• In the immediate term, we need to manage our
costs in line with our reduced income. As a consequence, each Faculty and Service will be required to achieve at least a 5% cost reduction in non-staffing expenditure, to be delivered in 2014/15 financial year.
• Each Faculty and Service has also been tasked to achieve at least a 5% cost reduction in staffing
expenditure in 14/15. In order to support Faculties and Services to achieve these targets
– Only essential roles will be replaced. In this way, non-essential roles that are vacant can contribute to the financial savings needed.
– Each area will also consider actively individuals who may wish to reduce hours or phase
retirement, as well as managing our
expenditure on additional hours and temporary members of staff.
– In December we will launch a Managed Severance Scheme (Voluntary Redundancy) application process, to support Faculties and
Services identify opportunities to work differently and allow staff who are considering leaving, a route to do so, whilst contributing to the financial savings required.
– Some areas may also consider reorganising aspects of their structures.
Introduce Organisational Change programmes in
order to reduce the cost-base of the University. We have two cross-university change programmes that
will deliver further savings. These will commence and be
completed in 2015.
1. A streamlining of management posts.
The ‘frontline’ learning and teaching roles throughout the University will be prioritised.
2. A reduction in professional support staff roles by accelerating the delivery of the Ways of Working Programme. This programme will fundamentally
reshape our administrative and support services provided, embracing new technology, automation
as well as ensuring consistent standards and efficiency are delivered cross-university.
Undertake a a realignment of our portfolio of degree
programmes and establish clear student experience
benchmarking in order to future-proof the University.
• Using our evidence base in the portfolio review tool, we will invest in the areas of the portfolio that deliver against our ambitions, that continue to offer a high quality student learning experience and that are in areas of our strength.
• We will need to create a portfolio to support a smaller on-campus population in the immediate future. Decisions will need to be made based on us having at least 8,500 full time home and EU undergraduate students studying with us.
• The product portfolio must also have the flexibility
to support a broad audience including
postgraduate, business, international and professional students.
• There will be an introduction of robust monitoring
and training and support to ensure that we
improve the student experience. We need to ensure that we continue to develop all our staff so that they can respond to the changing needs of the students and the external environment.
– NSS: All awards to improve results and work
towards the target of 90% satisfaction and above by 2016.
– We must attract students ready to take
advantage of what we have to offer, as
measured in the grades and range of qualifications with which they enter our programmes.
– Our students will have a challenging,
intellectually stimulating experience
that stretches and develops them, that delivers the Staffordshire Graduate attributes, and in which they are successful as measured, in part, by the proportion of good degrees and the national student survey results.
– Our graduates to be successful in getting jobs and setting up their own businesses, as measured by the DELHE data and the student business set up data.
Invest in the living, learning and social spaces for
students in order to create a modern environment in
which to study.
We need to adapt and be smarter over the next
12-18 months to create a University that continues to
be relevant. We have the opportunity to be an
inspirational university in the heart of the country.
Together we can be stronger.
• In the New Year, we will present the outline of the developments and our multi-million capital commitment to create a new student community
in Stoke-on-Trent as well as outlining the investment for our centres of excellence in
Stafford and Shrewsbury.
• The transition support and timescales of activity for students and staff will also be provided early
next year.
Creating a new University Plan and Strategy in order
that we can plan.
In 2015, we will create a strategy for the longer term
future of the University ensuring we are relevant
and ready for the further changes the HE sector is