Inside Track - Dr Tim Peakman: A University for the future

Chief Operating Officer, Tim Peakman, updates us on the work taking place to develop the post-2020 vision and strategy for our University.

Tim Peakman Inside Track June 2019

In July 2018, work began to devise the future strategic priorities for the University. The work, led by Tim on behalf of the University Executive Group, is split across four phases. The first phase included the development of a series of thought pieces designed to open up thinking about the internal and external context in which we operate.

Tim, what are thought pieces and what have they given us?

Thought pieces are concise, accessible summaries that are based on thorough research and blended with the insight and expertise of a subject matter expert to explore thoughts, ideas and insights.

We adopted this approach as the first phase of developing our new strategy to open up our thinking about the internal and external context in which we operate. To do this, we engaged subject matter experts from across the University and from other organisations to consider information, trends and ideas on a variety of topics relevant to key university activities.

It’s important to note that thought pieces are not the answer to the question ‘what should our strategy be?’. They help identify the questions and are one way of helping us get to the appropriate answer for Leeds. Other stages in the strategy development process are equally important, if not more so, especially the period we are now entering, when we will share a draft strategy with stakeholders – including colleagues - for their views.

What subjects did the thought pieces cover?

The thought pieces covered a range of issues ranging from trends in student education and science, to our relationship with the City of Leeds and other key stakeholders, to future HR strategy. They relate to these themes:

  • Best practice and benchmarking
  • Funding environment
  • Legal and regulatory trends
  • Macro environmental factors
  • New commercial models
  • The university of the future
  • Campus development
  • Trends in core activities
  • Science and technology
  • University in society

They have been summarised and you can download the summary using your University log in details.

What’s happening now?

We’re now towards the end of phase two, where we have started articulating the main elements of a strategy for the 2020s and preparing to enter phase three where we engage our stakeholders in it.

We have carried the good work from the first phase and focused in smaller groups to start to frame the strategy and maintain the interconnections between topics.

As a result, we now have the outline of a draft strategy ready to share with key stakeholder groups, including University colleagues.

As part of our work to deliver the strategic plan 2015-2020, we have already started on many of the necessary avenues we’ll need to explore in the next decade. And so, perhaps unsurprisingly, our current core academic activities – student education, research and innovation, each with increasingly integrated international endeavours - remain valid for the 2020s. But what is clear is that the scale and methods we’ll need to deploy in delivering them will be different to today.

Student education - We’re looking at what a student-centred, inclusive, research-based education will look like in the 2020s. How do we best deliver a sustainable, digital University for an ‘education 4.0’ era and create an engaged and lifelong community of colleagues, students and alumni?

Research and Innovation – We’re looking at how to deliver high-quality, challenge-led research into a future where inter-disciplinary, trans-institution working is the norm. How will we adapt to fully embrace opportunities and challenges posed by business, industry and global issues? And how must we support our researchers to achieve their career potential?

International – We’re looking to retain and enhance our global reputation as a world top 100 university, building a highly connected, inclusive global community and creating high-impact global opportunities for students and staff and in doing so, raise our international profile.

However, we will need to make significant steps in how we deliver those core academic goals. To that end, there are four further enabling activities in the current draft strategy which focus on our wider role and the way we should organise ourselves and act: staff and students, place in society and civic role, organising for success, and new sources of income.

How can colleagues get involved?

We’re now starting a period of engagement, which includes opportunities for dialogue with colleagues, student representatives, Council, Senate and key external stakeholders.

Please refer to the What's next at Leeds? webpage to find out how you can get involved as a member of staff, including events taking place in June and July. I’m looking forward to meeting and hearing from many more colleagues through this process.

In the new year (2020) there will be a structured consultation where people can submit their views.

What happens after consultation?

Following consultation we’ll move to phase four where we will finalise our compelling vision for the future development of the University, a clear articulation of strategic direction for the 2020s and, consistent with this work, a Strategic Plan for the period 2020 to 2025.

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