The latest draft of the University’s strategic plan for 2020–2025, released following
an extended period of consultation with staff, students and stakeholders, is now available to view on the Intranet:
What sort of place does the Vice-Chancellor think Lancaster will be in four years’ time?
Whereas our previous two Vice-Chancellors had firm ambitions for us to be
top in the North West, top 10 in the UK, and top 100 in the world (see as far back as <a href="https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/subtext/archive/issue071.htm” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>subtext 71), there are fewer specific targets in this document, and the targets we set are less specific — there’s no longer any mention of us being rated
top in the North West or
top 10 in the UK and, while the
top 100 reference remains, we’ll now just be
making further progress towards a top 100 position in key global rankings of universities.
The most laudable, and probably most ambitious, pledge comes near the start:
our aim is to be carbon net zero for carbon emissions from electricity and heating by 2030 and net zero from all other emissions by 2035. This has already been agreed by the Council. The document also offers a commitment to the colleges, including
exploring the potential for colleges to provide a meeting ground for academic staff from different disciplines and career stages, and considering whether to allow new postgraduate taught students to join any college.
Looking at our research, which is apparently
the North Star that will guide our strategy in the coming years, things will be
interdisciplinary, with that word appearing nine times in the space of two pages, and have
impact, with that word appearing six times in the same two pages. The only specific target for research is a commitment to increase the proportion of our income from enterprise activity from under 5% to 7.5%; the document notes that
increasing the proportion of our total income derived from research to more than 25% would bring our income in line with our direct competitors, but doesn’t offer any pledges.
Turning to teaching, our superiors have clearly noticed how thrilled we all are to spend half our working lives on Teams, and want to give us more of it. Lancaster will
facilitate delivery at multiple sites and campuses, via online and blended delivery and through the development of a more inclusive curriculum and
support our staff and students to participate to their fullest potential in online and hybrid modes of learning and knowledge transfer. It looks like we may be asking alumni to sign up for regular online CPD courses:
we are keen that our graduates re-engage with Lancaster throughout their lives to refresh and re-equip and extend their skills as their careers develop. Supporters of our flexible full-time degree structures may be worried at the pledge for a
curriculum which is more streamlined, simplified, spans subject boundaries, and exploits synergies with our partners, which suggests fewer courses and no more multi-subject Part I.
Finally it’s time for engagement, or, as the document puts it,
to engage actively with our community of communities. This seems to be a mix of
high-value, high-impact projects — the Health Innovation Campus, Eden North, Net Zero North and the Lancashire Cyber Foundry — and a wish to get more heavily involved in our local FE colleges, specifically Lancaster & Morecambe, Furness, Carlisle and, most intriguingly, Blackpool & The Fylde, where apparently we’re going to create a
Multiversity, whatever that is.
The final version of the strategy will be presented to the Council’s March meeting for approval, so those seeking to comment have around a fortnight to do so — any contributions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.