Strategic Plan 2002-2007

Addendum

The University Strategic Plan is in the process of being reviewed. For an overview of developments, recommendations and initiatives being taken forward, contact us

Introduction

This summary of the Strategic Plan of the University of Westminster outlines the main features of a number of strategies which will take the University forward during the next five years.

The view of the priorities for the next few years and the strategies for teaching, learning and research are set out in some detail as it is these which will guide the main activities of the University.

The objectives of the supporting strategies which have been developed to underpin the achievement of the University's objectives for teaching, learning and research are also set out but without associated detail. The Appendices contain selected data from the University's five year student number and financial forecasts. Full copies of these strategies and the five years forecasts are available on request to the Vice Chancellor's Office.

Vision

In the first years of the 21st century, the University of Westminster will be recognised nationally and internationally for:

  • high quality, challenging and accessible programmes and research;
  • provision of expert services;
  • the motivation, commitment and professional attitudes of its staff and students;
  • professional development and in-company training;
  • the supportive and enabling environment which it provides for students and staff;
  • the leading educational and cultural role which it is playing in the regeneration of London;
  • mutually beneficial relationships with industry and commerce;
  • provision of an educational experience for an international environment.

Mission

To provide high quality education and research, in both national and international contexts, for the intellectual, professional and social development of the individual, and for the economic and cultural enrichment of London and wider communities.

Strategy

To achieve its Mission, the University must:

  • monitor and enhance the quality and standards of its teaching and research and reduce activities in areas less central to its mission;
  • engage positively with other educational institutions at school, FE and HE levels, both in London and internationally 
  • expand its services in innovative and successful subject areas to meet market needs;
  • increase its public image, awareness and standing;
  • increase its income, particularly from non-government and private sources and control its expenditure;
  • produce a surplus to give a consistent financial return of at least 3% of turnover for contingency and future development investment.

Strategic Objectives

The strategy will be implemented through the achievement of the following high level strategic objectives. Each discrete group of strategic objectives is developed separately in the remainder of this Strategic Plan.

Leadership and Corporate Structure

  • To provide enhanced responsibility and accountability alongside responsiveness to opportunities through the devolved structure.
  • To create and sustain an accountable management culture aimed at achieving the highest quality results consistent with the lowest consumption of resources.
  • To maintain and continue to operate a strong and focused management team and management structure under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor.

Teaching, Learning and Research

  • To keep under continuous review and development the teaching and research portfolios, emphasising quality, innovation, fitness for purpose, marketability, and effective and efficient use of resources.
  • To identify clearly the objectives, resource needs, and characteristics of students for programmes of study.
  • To review the nature and structure of the teaching programmes to ensure the efficient achievement of declared objectives and to remove components which add no real value, quality, or effectiveness of delivery.
  • To target the marketing to selected audiences consistent with University mission, for teaching, research, and consultancy with the personal intervention of senior University staff, capitalising on the strong University of Westminster brand name and using efficient promotion and sales mechanisms.
  • To form strategic alliances with employers and professional bodies, for the purposes of enhanced employment opportunities for graduates, sponsorship, research, and consultancy.
  • To form strategic alliances with selected educational institutions with a view to joint provision, resource sharing, student progression routes, potential partnership and collaborative research.

Staff

  • To implement a human resources strategy aimed at improving staff recruitment, retention, performance and industrial relations.
  • To encourage and support diversity.
  • To develop all staff through well focused appraisal systems and staff development programmes.

University Services

  • To develop further cost effective and responsive support and guidance services for staff and students, aimed at enhancing the student experience and enabling greater engagement of staff in innovation.
  • To maintain and make use of a clearly understood system of resource allocation, consistent with the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy.
  • To maintain strong control by the management team of revenue and capital expenditure with accountability for all resources used to meet the University mission and firm adherence to budgetary targets.
  • To maximise income from the HEFCE and other public sources; to develop and implement strategies for diversifying and enhancing income from the private sector.
  • To provide timely, accurate and credible management information to enable effective decision making throughout the University.
  • To provide buildings and facilities which provide a stimulating working environment for staff and students and which will be attractive to full-cost and professional development users.

Overview

Academic Portfolio

The academic portfolio for teaching and research, embracing knowledge generation, dissemination and application, will be driven by the Mission of the University and will build on existing strengths whilst being responsive to new opportunities. The key features will be:

  • Teaching and learning, providing high quality experience for students from all social, cultural and educational backgrounds
  • High quality of provision for research, first and postgraduate degrees, lifelong learning and short courses, particularly of relevance to the needs of London
  • Accessibility and achievement
  • Preparation of the individual
  • to respond to diversity and change
  • to become an independent learner
  • for employability and success in professional life
  • Professional updating to meet development needs of graduates
  • Respect for the diversity of individual students and for the environment
  • Targeted support for research linked to the taught curriculum
  • Support for national and international knowledge transfer through courses, consultancy and spin-out
  • Conduct of University activities in an ethical manner.

Range of activity and planning

Internal and external monitoring and review identify the quality of provision.  Recent RAE and QAA Quality Assessment scores have been of help but do not assess adequately the full range of activity, and rapidly will become less relevant. There will be a programme of regular internal reviews of performance, using external advice, including that arising from professional accreditations, where appropriate. These reviews will identify strengths, areas for improvement and activities that no longer meet the requirements for high standards, marketability and cost effectiveness. They will inform decisions about new opportunities as well as the continuation of activities that do not meet these criteria, leading to investment, intentional cross-subsidy, or termination as appropriate.  Annual Campus plans will be required to respond to these reviews and to identify areas for improvement and new opportunities for development of teaching and research programmes.

The taught programme portfolio will serve a multivariate market of students who wish to study in full-time or part-time modes and at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These include sub-degree programmes, largely delivered in Associate Colleges. Within the criteria described above, the University will aim to support a wide and balanced subject portfolio. This will avoid excessive concentration in particular areas that could lead to vulnerability in the event of market demand shifts. There will be no guarantee that the current range will be sustained in areas found to be of relative weakness. Room needs to be made for innovation.

There will be regular meetings between Heads of School and the Vice Chancellor's Operational Group to assist the planning process. Active steps will be taken to facilitate cross-School developments with mechanisms put in place to achieve this.  The current emphasis on Campus and School alignment with specific subjects will continue but there will be increased emphasis on multi- and inter-disciplinary taught programmes and research. Any perceived barriers to such developments should be removed provided that there is clear identification that there are real markets for individual cross-disciplinary programmes.

When reviewing current activities and planning future developments, the University will continue to stress the importance of two particular constituencies: the London and South East regions and the international community.  Within these, there will be emphasis on four characteristics: quality of teaching, widening participation, professional development and opportunities for research and knowledge transfer.

Areas of provision

The University of Westminster must have a distinct academic profile to give it a clear identity from its competitors in London and by which to develop and sustain centres of excellence. It is important that it is recognised as playing a leading role in the London and South East regions and it must maintain the strength of its international reputation. It must also ensure that it has programmes that meet the demands of the market and which provide a strong base of funding. It must conduct its activities in an ethical manner with respect for the environment, inculcating these qualities in its staff and students. Much of its present portfolio meets these criteria in one or more ways. This provides a strong base for the future.

Key areas of strength for the London economy and activity include:

  • Business and management, particularly SMEs and Head Office functions
  • Service industries, particularly financial services
  • Tourism culture and languages
  • Health provision and research
  • Creative industries
  • Cultural institutions
  • Retail and marketing
  • Communication and Information Technologies
  • Government, diplomatic and international organisations
  • Transport
  • Built environment- design, planning, management, construction
  • Education
  • Justice and Legal Services

To sustain the London population and business community, key issues identified by London First include:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Social services
  • Skills development and updating
  • Transport
  • Policing and safety
  • Population diversity
  • Sustainability of the environment and quality of life

London is a key international city which will need to ensure that it continues to meet the developing needs of Britain and the global economy and society. It has to provide for its companies to operate effectively in the international environment against increasingly sharp competition from Europe, North America and now from rapidly developing Asian countries. It has the advantage of the English language but it is being challenged on many fronts, including technology, language, cultural diversity, costs, and quality of life. London is one of the world's foremost centres for democracy, government and diplomacy. It houses many of the world's cultural archives and heritages which are freely available to international scholars.

International inward investment into London is one of the keys to its success and the University can assist with this, most notably the production of highly qualified graduates who are comfortable in working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment. It also should be in a position to provide expert knowledge and services through its research and consultancy.

Portfolio of Provision

The portfolio of the university must thus be measured against these requirements as well as by more traditional measures of excellence of research (RAE) and teaching and learning (Quality Assessment and Employability). Much of the current portfolio matches well with these needs but there are areas where few distinctive features are found.

This analysis suggests that the University must sustain its broad portfolio but in so doing must be clear as to the markets each subject area is addressing. It must also take advantage of the presence of other centres of excellence in higher education through partnership and collaboration in teaching and research. This may provide the opportunity for expansion of resource intensive areas of work and also rationalisation of competing activities in areas of shortage of students without losing the subject in the University.

It is not sufficient simply to maintain existing areas of work. They must evolve to ensure that they meet the challenges of changing technologies, values and employment needs. "Educating for professional life" means ensuring that our graduates and postgraduates are prepared for employment. It means that issues of core skills, ethics and professionalism are built into the curriculum and its delivery. In its simplest form this requires that the impact of Communication and Information Technology is embraced in the curriculum in all areas.  In the specialist areas of information technology and engineering in the University, the need is most apparent to ensure that graduates are skilled in both the basics of the subject and also the most recent developments. In areas such as the media based courses in Communication and Creative Industries, the impact of the new digital media and the management of creative industry companies should form a core part of the teaching and learning or our graduates will be overtaken by those of our competitors. These are only two obvious examples but the same principles will apply to all other areas.  This will set new demands for the capital investment programme and services delivered by such services as ISLS.

To meet these future needs, the University subject portfolio for research and teaching and learning should cluster around key subject centres, whilst maintaining School based provision. There are already a number of such centres in existence or under discussion. These should have a higher profile in definition of the University provision without prejudicing the existing School structure. The limitation of the current structure lies not so much in its definition but in a failure to operate across boundaries. Impediments to collaboration must be identified and removed to enable the University to gain maximum value from its subject expertise and to give opportunities for new developments. Clusters should be formed to address the presentation of the University to the outside world that has little concern for structures but wants to identify and work with areas of strength.

  • In defining such clusters we need to identify the needs of the user, not the internal managerial arrangements. Such clusters could include:
  • International Developments (including International Education Office, the Support for International Projects and Programmes Office, Politics, Centre for Study of Democracy, Diplomatic Academy, Applied Languages, Law, CCI, Business Schools)
  • London Community (all Schools, Marketing and Development, Business Development and Commercial Research Unit)
  • Health (including Integrated Health, Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, IT, Management)
  • Creative and Cultural Industries (Cultural and Creative Industries, New Media Knowledge, Centre for Arts Research Technology and Education, Law, Architecture and Design, Computer Science and Business Schools)
  • Sustainable Development (Transport, Policy Studies Institute, Built Environment, Tourism, Geography, Biosciences)
  • Communication and Information Technology, including the networked economy (both Schools of Computer Science, Centre of Excellence, both Business Schools, Cultural and Creative Industries)
  • Business and Management, including the finance sector (both Business Schools, Law, Psychology, Operations Research, Built Environment)

Each cluster will be coordinated by a Cluster Group which will meet each term. The Heads of Schools, or delegated senior staff, and Units identified will be members of the Cluster Group, chaired by a Head of School. The Clusters may be strengthened by involvement of members of the Court of Governors, key employers and agencies. For example, the International Development Cluster could benefit by the involvement of the British Council and the Health Cluster by the King's Fund.

The Groups will set their own agenda with the basic intention of ensuring that developing trends are identified and new opportunities developed to support the objective of maintaining the University mission. This will include research, consultancy and the taught curriculum. In this way they will interface with research and employers and ensure that research, consultancy and teaching are closely supportive of each other. They will report to the Vice Chancellor's Executive Group (VCEG) after each meeting. VCEG will take action to support the work of the Cluster Groups and ensure that other committees, including Academic Council and Court of Governors, are informed as appropriate.

The Clusters will not manage resources, curriculum or research but will ensure that there is improved coordination of response to the external market, particularly through interdisciplinary work, be it research or teaching. They will also ensure that academic support resources are coordinated to provide comparable levels of support for all areas of activity in the Cluster. This will support the University Research Strategy as well as Campus planning.

The Student Experience

Quality of Teaching and Learning

The six characteristics assessed by the former QAA Quality Assurance methodology were appropriate to identification of good quality teaching and learning. Although that methodology has come to an end, the University will retain a similar structure, reviewing the following characteristics:-

  • Curriculum design, content and organisation
  • Quality of teaching and learning
  • Support for teaching and learning
  • Student progression and achievement
  • Student experience
  • Quality management

The approach to these reviews will be equally rigorous but less bureaucratic and more appropriately targeted than the QAA approach. Reports will be made to the Academic Council and thence to the Court of Governors.

Recruitment, Retention and Achievement of Students

The University has an excellent record in its work to raise aspirations to higher education and to open up opportunities for those who had not identified this route to career development.  This will be extended, in partnership with other Higher and Further Education institutions and agencies, including the Learning and Skills Councils to ensure equality of opportunity.  The partnerships with Associate Colleges will play a key role, particularly with the development of Foundation Degrees. The University has responsibilities to support those who apply with a fair, sensitive and responsive admissions system followed by a supportive system of teaching and learning to maximise the opportunities of students through to completion of programmes and into employment. In forming partnerships, there will be a clear definition of the nature of the partnership, the resources required and the methods of allocation of funding routed through the University of Westminster from HEFCE or other funding bodies.

Targets will be set on an annual basis for improved progression and retention, aiming to improve these to the sector norms within 5 years. This will be achieved through better targeting of support for students, confidence building, student-centred teaching and learning, integration of core competences into the curriculum, respect for diversity and development of employability. These will be delivered without compromise to academic standards. These steps will lead to higher levels of achievement by students, helping them to achieve their full potential. In addition to the academic support indicated above, the University will set out to improve the personal and social development of students. This should be assisted by closer working with the Students' Union and the Athletic Union to ensure that students are encouraged to make full use of the social, cultural, recreational and sports resources of the University.

Employability

The University will continue to place strong emphasis on "educating for professional life". This will manifest itself through curriculum design, use of Career Management Skills Modules, closer involvement of employers and professional bodies in design and delivery of taught programmes and well-designed work placement and experience opportunities. The University will seek to retain, and gain where identified, full professional body recognition for its programmes. Where relevant, priorities identified by the new Sector Skills Councils will be incorporated into curricula to match provision more closely to market needs. International student exchanges make a strong contribution to confidence building, independence and cultural awareness. These are all attributes which employers claim to seek in graduates. Many graduates enter SMEs or self-employment where the skills of entrepreneurship are essential for success. We will continue to campaign to persuade large, multinational employers and those who have traditionally sought graduates from a restricted range of universities, that the Westminster graduate is well developed in the skills and attributes that they seek. Through these measures the University will aim to increase the employment of its graduates as recorded through the First Destination Return to be above the national average by 2007.

To deliver the academic work of the University, the Academic portfolio will have to be supported by a range of strategies and agencies within the University. The strategies that support this are summarised in the following sections. In reading these, it has to be remembered that they exist only to support the teaching, learning and research of the University. They are thus based on the principles of assisting the University to deliver its mission and objectives as set out on pages 4 and 5 above. Each such strategy has been developed on the basis of provision of high quality research and teaching for a diverse student body, in both national and international contexts for the intellectual, professional and social development of the individual and for the cultural enrichment of London and the wider communities. We serve a diverse community and have a responsibility to provide relevant education to equip students to become confident, independent learners which is recognised by the community of employers around the world, and to deliver targeted high quality research and consultancy. This has to be done in a competitive environment where resources have to be won through excellence. We have to make the arguments for such support through our delivery, whether it be to students, employers, the London Region or the international community. Our staff must be fully engaged in meeting the objectives of the University. They must be supported and developed to enable them to deliver these and to succeed in their own personal and professional development.

Leadership and Corporate Structure

Strategic Objectives

To maintain and continue to operate a strong management team and management structure under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor.

To create and sustain an accountable management culture aimed at achieving the highest quality results consistent with the lowest consumption of resources.

To provide enhanced responsibility and accountability alongside responsiveness to opportunities.

Management and Governance

Senior Management Structure and Responsibilities

The University management must maintain a focus and address issues with foresight and purpose. This will require more closely focused senior management involvement and a strong sense of ownership of its decisions and those of colleagues in the senior team.

The Vice Chancellor's role has over recent years moved considerably towards external activities to promote the standing and reputation of the University. The Vice Chancellor has had to place increasing reliance on senior staff, such as the Provosts, the Director of Finance and the University Secretary, to operate under delegated authority.

The Vice Chancellor also has the support of two Deputy Vice Chancellors, roles taken on a fixed term (four year) basis by two of the Provosts. One of the Deputy Vice Chancellors brings together responsibility for external relations, thereby creating a more integrated approach to the more outward looking aspects of the University's work.  The remit of the other Deputy Vice Chancellor is focused on internal management issues.

The structure of four Campus Provosts combining local management of campuses with cross-University responsibilities has served the University well and will be retained. In addition, the group of senior staff to whom the Vice Chancellor can delegate cross-University functions will be extended in anticipation of the retirement of the present Provosts. Some adjustments to the portfolios of the existing Provosts will be made to facilitate this.

The membership of the Vice Chancellor's Executive Group (VCEG) has been widened to include more senior support staff and Heads of Schools with cross University responsibilities.

Effective Governance

In 2000, the University initiated a review of the effectiveness of its Court of Governors and its committees. This was led by the Chair of the Audit Committee and its report was formally received by the Court of Governors on 1 July 2002.

The report contained thirteen recommendations. Most revolved around the need to enable the Court to understand more about the University's academic strategy and business plans, and to identify the crucial issues central to the University's success. A number of recommendations were made as to how communications between governors and the staff and students of the University could be made more effective. These recommendations will be implemented progressively over the next twelve months.

Risk Management

The University has pursued an ongoing programme of risk management since 1997. This has included a programme of workshops evaluating risks associated with the University's strategic objectives and the underpinning operating plans in campuses and service departments. The University has developed disaster recovery plans for its information systems and library services and has reviewed and updated its generic disaster and emergency procedures. Plans for continued operation in the event of the loss of a building are currently under preparation.

With the reorganisation and expansion of the Vice Chancellor's Executive Group (VCEG), the opportunity has been taken to review this existing work and to develop a formal statement of the University's Risk Management policy and plan. A programme, starting with a workshop for VCEG members on 15 July 2002, is planned to take place in 2002/03. It is anticipated that the draft policy and plan will be considered by the Court of Governors later in the year.

Teaching, Learning and Research

Strategic Objectives

To keep under continuous review and development the teaching and research portfolios, emphasising quality, innovation, marketability, and effective and efficient use of resources.

To identify clearly the objectives, resource needs, and characteristics of students for programmes of study.

To review the nature, structure and mode of delivery of the teaching programmes to ensure the efficient achievement of declared objectives and to remove components which add no real value, quality, or effectiveness.

To market teaching, research, and consultancy with the personal intervention of senior University staff, capitalising on the strong University of Westminster brand name and using efficient promotion and sales mechanisms.

To form strategic alliances with employers and professional bodies, for the purposes of enhanced employment opportunities for graduates, sponsorship, research, and consultancy.

To form strategic alliances with selected educational institutions with a view to joint provision, resource sharing, student progression routes, potential partnership and collaborative research.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy and Strategy

The Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy is based on a policy document originally developed by a sub group of the Academic Council in 1998 and subsequently updated in 2000. In late 2001, a new group was established by the Academic Council to keep the policy and strategy under regular review.

The University believes in a community of learners creating a stimulating learning environment in which both staff and students cultivate their respective academic and professional skills. This involves a strong emphasis for students on encouragement of self-motivation, independent self-management, active in-depth learning, self-reflection and appraisal, and familiarity with appropriate learning resources and new technologies. It embraces the widening participation agenda, and is committed to retaining students to successful completion.

The University of Westminster is committed to the development and maintenance of teaching and learning methods designed to promote and assist student-centred active learning (whenever possible and appropriate), including the acquisition and identification of a wide range of higher education and career management skills. It is committed to the selection of teaching and learning methods which are fit for purpose, provide flexibility in delivery, with strong provision of support for students in learning. It requires the use of a range of teaching and learning approaches which are appropriate to the achievement of the learning outcomes by the student, and the selection of assessment methods which are effective whilst maintaining acceptable assessment loading for both students and staff.

Integral to this policy are parallel commitments to the continuous professional development of all academic and support staff in relation to teaching and learning. A climate is encouraged in which discipline based-research and teaching are integrated, and teaching and learning are supported by scholarly approaches and educational research.

Achieving the policy statement requires that the University provides education which:

  • encompasses delivery in a variety of modes to engender flexibility to meet student needs, wherever appropriate and feasible;
  • meets the learning needs of a range of students, with attention to issues of fair access and equal opportunity;
  • uses a range of teaching, learning and assessment techniques which are fit for purpose;
  • engenders active, student-centred learning, reflection and self-awareness in students;
  • addresses the information needs of potential and current students in a flexible manner;
  • promotes learning outside the classroom, through such activities as work placement, and other modes of work-based learning;
  • recognises and accredits experiential learning;
  • in line with strategies around independent learning, encourages in students critical abilities, self-confidence, and rational approaches to living; these are essential to any form of education that is ethically informed, in the interest of students' academic, professional and personal self-fulfilment;
  • uses teaching methods and approaches that encourage intellectual freedom, as one of the underlying ethical tenets of the University;
  • provides constructive and informative feedback to students on their performance in assessment in a way which is consistent across the institution;
  • offers flexible access to library resources and services and to computing facilities;
  • includes well-developed student feedback systems;
  • provides students with appropriate and integrated learning support and guidance;
  • promotes the appropriate use of Information and Communications Technology and provides training in related skills;
  • promotes widening participation;
  • equips students with employability skills and enables them to manage their future career development skills;
  • attains high levels of student progression and retention;
  • maintains a high level of externally recognised quality of provision;
  • provides capability for lifelong learning and professional updating;
  • disseminates principled innovation and effective practice in teaching, learning and assessment (from both internal and external sources) throughout the institution;
  • provides for updating of both content and delivery of learning to ensure continuing relevance of academic and professional skills;
  • encompasses collaboration with employers, business and professional organisations to facilitate access to labour market information, encourages awareness of employer requirements and provide access to work experience opportunities of all kinds;
  • supports staff in the development of scholarly approaches to teaching and learning;
  • develops a University culture of scholarly approaches to, and research into, higher education delivery which is clearly linked to teaching and learning issues;
  • supports discipline-based development of teaching, learning and assessment strategies to contribute to the University Strategy.
Specific features of teaching and learning provision at the University which are highlighted in the strategy for delivery include:-
 
  • The flexibility of modular provision;
  • Arrangements for Quality Assurance which are externally recognised as being of high standard;
  • Attracting a wide diversity of students;
  • Established outreach provision and links with local Schools and Colleges, with engagement of current students in the liaison processes;
  • Support for students in academic literacy and numeracy provided by many Schools, and the provision of materials and guidance to support academic literacy within the libraries.;
  • Progress over the issue of peer observation such that some activity is occurring in all Schools;
  • Relatively high Institute of Learning and Teaching membership (240 members as at May 2002);
  • An active University-wide unit, the Education Initiative Centre, to promote developments in teaching, learning and assessment and to provide staff with support and guidance on these issues;
  • Validation of the MA in Higher Education coupled to the requirement for new staff to study the Postgraduate Certificate element;
  • Promotions to Principal Lecturer to reward excellence in teaching and to undertake recognised School and Campus based roles in the development of teaching, learning and assessment;
  • The attention paid to issues associated with widening participation, and establishment of the Widening Participation Strategy Committee and Network;
  • The growing use of ICT to underpin all aspects of teaching and learning and support for students;
  • The development of the HE and Career Management Skills Policy and the active contribution of staff from the Careers and Student Employment (CaSE) together with other University staff in the implementation of this Policy;
  • Extensive refurbishment of teaching facilities and learning resources areas on three campuses with the fourth being undertaken currently;
  • The emerging University Centre for Research into Education;
  • Student feedback on modules via a University-wide questionnaire which has been extended to survey all modules annually, a University-wide course questionnaire under-development and questionnaire data obtained on student withdrawal.
  • The following infrastructure/organisational advances will continue to have an impact on the development and support for teaching and learning:-
  • Establishment of the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF) Structure;
  • Appointment of School based Teaching and Learning Co-ordinators;
  • Formation of an active group for discussion of teaching and learning issues across the University Chaired by the TQEF Project manager, a senior appointment working within the Educational Initiative Centre (EIC);
  • Organisation of University and Campus based Staff Development events (e.g. upcoming University Symposium on Teaching and Learning);Establishment of Campus and School Teaching and Learning Groups;
  • Enhanced opportunities for liaison and effective collaboration in the provision of staff development with the EIC, On-line Learning developments and the TQEF structure within the context of Campus plans and objectives;
  • On-line Learning Developments;
  • Appointment of the Director of On-line Learning, a University-wide senior appointment;
  • Formation of the University On-line Learning Group and publication of the On-line Learning Policy;
  • Establishment of a centrally funded infrastructure for the support of on-line learning developments, including the appointment of On-line Learning Support Officers for each campus;
  • Provision of a range of staff development opportunities, focusing on both pedagogic and technology related issues (e.g. University On-line Learning Symposium, June 2001 - attended by over 200 staff, an on-line staff development course 'Teaching and Learning On-line: A Primer - attended so far by over 40 staff);
  • Initial development by CaSE of an on-line provision of Career Management Skills module, and of PDP and an on-line personal development portfolio (in conjunction with the EIC);
  • Continuing investment in user focused library resources and services, in computer provision and in underpinning ICT infrastructure;
  • Use of University Development Funds (administered and managed by the EIC) to stimulate educational development.
The following areas will remain under continuing review in the light of the effective practice already identified:-
  • Employability, and implementing the HE and Career Management Skills Policy, including more access to labour market intelligence;
  • Ensuring that the assessment of students is both effective and efficient;
  • A review of our understanding of the concept of student-centred active learning;
  • Equipping all students and staff with the requisite information skills;
  • Explicitly evidencing the links between teaching and research as expressed within the curriculum;
  • Researching the processes of teaching, learning and assessment within the context of the University, and in comparative studies across institutions;
  • Student retention, and the need to understand the impact of induction processes, the social context and delivery patterns on these issue of retention, withdrawal and failure;
  • Support for part-time students and off-campus students;
  • Staff development in the above areas, and in implementing the new policies in relation to disability and race relations.

Objectives

In order to meet the policy requirements the objectives for 2002/03 to 2004/05 are:-

Strategic developments
Ongoing development and refinement of Campus and School teaching, learning and assessment strategies, in the light of feedback from both internal and external reviews, benchmark information, and informed by student consultation. Maintenance of current network of Teaching and Learning Co-ordinators, coordinated by the Educational Initiative Centre, to ensure University-wide coherence.

Skills policy
Further implementation of the HE and Career Management Skills Policy, including the development of coherent approaches to Personal Development Planning and HE Progress Files. Ongoing attention to enhancing student employability, and life-long learning capabilities.

Assessment
Review of current assessment and feedback practices. Ongoing development of effective approaches to assessment, valid in purpose (to measure the learning outcomes), transparent, free of bias and ensuring appropriate assessment loading.

Student-centred, active learning
Identification of appropriate approaches to student-centred, active learning in the context of a mass HE system, and application as relevant to different disciplines, supported by the appropriate staff development.

Information Skills
Ensuring that both staff and students possess the information skills necessary to support them in a fast-developing environment.

Teaching/research links
Review and develop the relationship between discipline-based research and teaching, in order to inform curriculum design and delivery.

Scholarly approaches to teaching, learning and assessment
Support for the development of scholarly activities in teaching and learning so as to inform curriculum design and delivery. Encourage research in order to investigate salient issues impacting on teaching, learning and assessment to inform future policy and practice. Particular emphasis to be placed on the challenges and opportunities associated with large student groups, part-time provision, and the continued development of effective assessment practices and skills delivery.

Use of ICT
Ongoing development of use of ICT in the support and delivery of teaching, learning and assessment, as fit for purpose.

Staff Development
Ongoing provision of staff development to ensure education, training and updating of staff in appropriate teaching, learning and assessment capabilities. Integration of part-time staff and visiting lecturers into this provision.

Recognition of Excellence in Teaching
Creation of additional promotional opportunities to recognise excellence in teaching and to support implementation of the Policy and Strategy; examination of further mechanisms to support innovation and excellence in teaching.

Individual Campus strategies and targets have been developed to achieve these objectives and can be found in the full version of the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy and Strategy.

Research and Consultancy

Research Policy

The primary purpose of the University is to generate, apply and disseminate knowledge. In this, research is a fundamental component of the portfolio of any University. Research adds to human knowledge. Research is important in:-

  • enhancing the creativity of the University
  • complementing and strengthening the teaching and learning portfolio
  • attracting and retaining high quality academic staff
  • helping to maintain the effectiveness of staff
  • generating worthwhile student projects and case studies
  • continuously improving facilities
  • providing a source of ideas for courses.

The University defines research to include individual and collaborative research arrangements, scholarly and other creative activities. Links with planned staff development programmes are recognised and encouraged.

It is the policy of the University:-

  • to attach great importance to the continued development of a strong portfolio of research programmes throughout all key academic areas, consistent with the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategy;
  • to expect all academic staff, either individually of in groups, to engage in research, and to publish and make known their findings for the benefit of others;
  • to strengthen collaborative links with and provide services to academia, industry, commerce, the professions, the public sector and the community at large;
  • to promote institutional consultancy, technology transfer and exploitation of research and ensure appropriate returns to the University and the protection of intellectual property rights;
  • to increase research funding from a range of grant giving bodies including research councils, the international bodies, charities and commercial sponsors;
  • to encourage the strategic development of individual research, research groups and cross-University interdisciplinary research activities to the mutual benefit of staff and the University;
  • to ensure that research provides a proper based for and enhances existing and future undergraduate, postgraduate and post-experience courses, and professional development;
  • to devote, selectively and strategically, a proportion of the income and other resources available to the University for the development of research;
  • to provide pro-active central facilities to help in attracting external funds to support its research programme and maintain efficient procedures for pricing bids and supporting the management of research contracts;
  • to publish a register of research and consultancy expertise;
  • to use its best endeavours to develop procedures and practices to assist its contract research staff in the progress of their careers and monitor the effectiveness of these procedures and practices;
  • to aim for continuous improvement of research achievement as assessed by external review , for example, the Research Assessment Exercise;
  • to ensure that research and its supervision are well co-ordinated, monitored and evaluated;
  • to ensure that the research undertaken within the University's remit is conducted according to ethical principles established by the Ethics Committee;
  • to plan the registration of candidates for research degrees and ensure that research students receive appropriate training and have access to suitable facilities, so that normally research students will be able to complete their theses within four years for a full time PhD, eight years for a part-time PhD and appropriately shorter periods for MPhil theses.

Research Strategy

The Research Strategy supports the delivery of the University's Research Policy. This strategy takes account of the overall strategy of the University within the shifting political context in which the University operates and allows for local variation in the tactics employed to implement the strategy.

The pattern of research will support the University's mission, and the development of its academic portfolio building on existing strengths whilst being responsive to new opportunities. The integration of research in the taught curriculum will continue to be a key feature, alongside support for knowledge transfer through courses, consultancy, and spin-out activities. Specifically, the University's research activities it will reflect the key academic areas identified in the Strategic Plan:-

  • The London community
  • Health
  • Creative and cultural industries
  • Sustainable development
  • Information Technology
  • Business and Management

Operational Framework

Research Centres and Research Groups

Research Centres will demonstrably operate in inclusive mode, and, where appropriate, cross School boundaries in order to encourage an increasing number of staff to be research active. Staff will be attached to, or form, active research groupings within the remit of the Research Centre. The Centres may be composed of more than one Research Group.

Management and Leadership in Research

Provosts, Heads of School and Chairs of Department will agree clear targets designed to implement the University's Research Policy and Strategy and explicitly to develop research activity within their Campus, School and Department, recognising the differing degrees of research development across the university. Targets might include the percentage of their staff who are research active, research income and outputs, research student numbers and completions etc, and may be short, medium or long-term.

Each Research Centre will have a Director, whose role, working in conjunction with the Heads and Chairs, will be to support them in the delivery of these targets, firstly, by taking responsibility directly for the supervision of the training of research students in their Centre, and, secondly, by leading and monitoring the development of research programmes in their Centre. The sine qua non of research development is that much happens at the boundaries between disciplines and therefore, whilst each Research Centre will be established within a School, the staff who prosecute their research through a Research Group might belong to a different School.  This will assist the delivery of Academic Council's policy of encouraging cross and multi-disciplinary research.

Focused Use of Time and Funds

More staff time will released by the judicious application of earned income as this increases, and by engendering an increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching, assessment and administration, whilst having regard for the student body to whom its teaching is offered.

Support for research, consultancy and other valid forms of external relationships will be enhanced by a centrally funded Unit for the Support of Innovation and Research, resourced with contributions from research overheads and consultancy income, or other nominated income. This unit will provide more pro-active support in identifying funding sources and opportunities, and matching those opportunities to the capabilities and skills of those who work for the University. It will provide a resource for the development and submission of external funding bids. It will also promote two-way communication of information between the University and its (potential) external client base.

Training for Technology Alliance and Partnerships

Awareness of the potential for technology transfer, issues surrounding Intellectual Property Rights, and opportunities for consultancy will be enhanced through offering in-house workshops and seminars and also identifying external training courses.

Subsidiaries and Spin Off Companies

A framework will be developed to guide the establishment of subsidiary and spin-off companies. A range of incentives will be designed to stimulate staff to engage with these new opportunities.

Measurement of Research

The University will review, co-ordinate and clarify its procedures for monitoring research and consultancy activity. The monitoring will be carried out by the Research Strategy Committee and where appropriate the Research Degrees Committee, in partnership with the Research Centres and Schools, and the outcomes will be reported to the Vice Chancellor's Executive Group, Academic Council and the Court of Governors.

Research Development Fund

The University's Research Development Fund will be applied selectively to strategically targeted research areas that the University wishes to develop further or establish. It will also be used to encourage cross-University and inter-disciplinary research. The areas for support and agreed targets against which progress can be clearly monitored will be identified by the Research Strategy Committee. Schools will be expected to provide the required element of match funding to complement Research Development Fund allocations as a demonstration of their commitment to area. Proposals for research that seek the support of the University must be able to demonstrate how that research supports the teaching portfolio.

Monitoring Research Staff and Students

The Research Degrees Committee will monitor the progress of Research Students.

Regulations and processes concerning the monitoring of research student progress will be kept under review.

Support of an appropriate nature and level will be provided for research students.

Staff

Research activity and ability or potential will be a key priority in the appointment of new academic staff.

Staff development courses, seminars and workshops aimed at enhancing the skills and effectiveness of researchers, for example in research supervision or in successful external income generation, will be established or sought externally. The nature of the post of Reader in the University will be reviewed to provide a career progression link between SL and Professor for those staff whose principal contribution to the university is through their research.

In accordance with the principles set out in the Research Careers Initiative, the careers and prospects of contract/fixed term research staff will continue to be monitored. The Ethics Committee, reporting to the Academic Council, will be maintained. The University will strive to enhance the external profile of its staff and expertise by revising and maintaining its Web pages, prospectuses and other publications, and will encourage its staff to promote their research expertise to the external world, thereby enhancing the reputation of the university, through a variety of means, including, publication, participation in or organisation of conferences and seminars, and by proactively engaging its staff with the media.

Supporting Strategies

The Teaching, Learning and Research are underpinned by a number of supporting strategies. The objectives of each of these are listed in the section.

Widening Participation Strategy

Three concepts remain at the heart of the University's approach to widening participation:-

  • a diverse curriculum that captures the imagination of students and is responsive to their needs and working lives;
  • attention to the whole learning environment and to students' wider support needs;
  • access, which must be assured, cannot be provided without working in partnership with others.

The University is currently taking stock of its most successful initiatives before committing to new future directions. This will be done in the context of the review of the Teaching, Learning and Assessment strategy. Strategic priorities within the emergent strategy are:-

  • to equip students with the skills for learning and working
  • to focus on transition, retention and employment
  • to identify further the needs and performance of students from non-traditional backgrounds and/or with disabilities.

The University's emergent Widening Participation Strategy is set out in a separate document produced in October 2001 and aims to produce a full strategy to be presented in 2002/03. The work will be led by the Widening Participation Strategy Committee, supported by other existing groups and networks within the University. A timetable and action plan with specific targets has been agreed. These, together with a discussion of how the widening participation strategy will support and be informed by the other University strategies set out in this Strategic Plan, are set out in University of Westminster: Emergent Strategy for Widening Participation, October 2001.

On Line Learning Policy and Objectives

In May 2001 the Academic Council approved a University Online Learning Policy (OLLP), prepared by the OLLG after wide consultation and discussion.

The OLLP defines On-line Learning simply as:-

The use of all forms of information and communication technology (ICT) to support teaching, learning and administration.

The full policy document, which is available on the University's intranet, stresses many things but there are four especially significant points. These are:-

  • on-line learning development is for all staff and should not be seen solely as the creation of teaching materials by academic staff to be delivered or made available outside the traditional classroom;
  • effective on-line learning does not necessarily entail the use of technology that is not already routinely used every day by many staff and students for retrieval of information and communication;
  • with respect to the use of on-line systems in teaching, the priority will be to support the use of on-line learning for 'mixed mode delivery' and 'to add an extra dimension to on campus delivery'; support for distance learning is not however precluded by the policy, where there is a clearly defined niche market (e.g. continuing professional development, short courses, languages) and/or where effective partnerships with partner institutions would be facilitated;
  • above all the policy seeks to ensure that for both teaching and administrative staff, on-line learning should be seen not as a threat but an opportunity, to improve skills and job satisfaction and to lessen the burden of mundane and repetitive tasks.

The principal aims of the OLLP are:-

  • to open up opportunities for the effective use of ICT to all staff so as to improve the overall learning and University experience of students;
  • to develop an ICT enabled and capable internal community, able to combat the challenges that the ICT revolution is progressively providing.

The University will seek to achieve the principal aims of the OLLP by focusing on a series of defined objectives set to underpin the aims of the OLLP. These objectives are necessarily closely linked to those of the teaching and learning strategy and information strategy. The defined objectives of the OLLP are:-

  • to increase the use of web based tools by all staff and students so as to enable new approaches to communication and discussion, assessment and the dissemination of information;
  • to continue to develop appropriate web based and other ICT based tools in line with advances in technology;
  • to provide staff training in the use of key web based tools and in possibilities for the effective use of ICT in teaching and learning;
  • to provide Campus based support for staff in the use of ICT that is centrally co-ordinated to ensure cost effectiveness;
  • to promote and develop an institutional culture of 'electronic first, paper second';
  • to ensure that the use of ICT is given equal priority in all aspects of the student experience and staff functions;
  • to help ensure the necessary infrastructure required to support, where appropriate, the delivery of distance learning;
  • ultimately to enable and promote the development and use of a corporate Virtual Learning Environment that reflects both previous and current investment in the ICT infrastructure.

Knowledge Transfer Strategy

The objectives of the strategy are:-

  • to enhance and develop the University's reputation for providing expert service and knowledge transfer;
  • to strengthen significantly the University's knowledge base;
  • to support, develop and grow research funded by EU and other public sector grants;
  • to enhance and develop the applied research and consultancy portfolio, focusing on quality and innovation;
  • to develop and grow the Teaching Company Scheme programme to at least fifteen on-going projects;
  • to strengthen and develop the programme of intellectual property identification and exploitation, focusing on the University's technology expertise;
  • to increase significantly the overall volume of applied research and consultancy with associated income generation.

Employability Strategy

The University must continue to enhance student employability, to advise and educate its students that a degree alone is not enough to secure a "graduate" job and to make explicit to students and postgraduates the importance of developing a range of skills, such as:

  • Self-reliance: self-management, self-awareness, pro-activity, willingness to learn, self-promotion, networking, planning action;
  • People skills: teamworking, interpersonal skills, oral communications, leadership, customer orientation;
  • General skills: problem-solving, flexibility, business acumen, IT/computer literacy, numeracy, commitment;
  • Specialist skills: occupational skills, technical skills, understanding commercial goals, company-related expertise, professional expertise, strategic planning skills, foreign languages.

International Strategy

The University's International Strategy takes account of the international, that is non-UK, dimensions of the University's work, abroad or at home. As far as students are concerned, it relates to students and potential students whose long-term base is outside the UK and therefore includes students paying overseas fees, students coming from the European Union as well as from the traditional "overseas" fee-paying territories, and Study Abroad and Exchange students.

The objectives of the strategy are:-

  • to strengthen the University's knowledge base for teaching and research, now increasingly internationalised for areas of professional practice as it has long been for traditional academic areas;
  • to promote the staff development of our academic staff now working in an increasingly internationalised Higher Education sector;
  • to provide a rich, culturally and intellectually diversified teaching and learning environment for students and staff;
  • to encourage student international experience by student exchange, thus strengthening linguistic and social skills, confidence building and employability;
  • to support and foster international collaboration in research;
  • to exploit further the University's potential contribution to international development;
  • to increase and diversify the University's sources of income and to increase income from non-HEFCE sources;
  • to seek increased external sources of funding to support scholarships for exceptionally well qualified students from abroad who will return to contribute to the development of their country and region of origin;
  • to raise the University's profile abroad, including by collaboration with high quality institutions elsewhere, and by the establishment of overseas centres, as appropriate.

Human Resources Strategy

The Human Resources Strategy was submitted to the HEFCE at the end of May 2002. Its objectives are:-

  • to adopt a performance management approach in all University activities; to develop planned and evaluated staff development initiatives to meet corporate functional and individual goals;
  • to develop the University's workforce towards reflecting the external communities which the University serves;
  • to motivate staff through career development and reward structures;
  • to benchmark and agree appropriate standards of customer care and to review and develop associated working methods;
  • to plan the University's human resources so as to reflect the projected demand for courses, subjects and modes of delivery;
  • to ensure continuing consultation with all University staff on the University's strategic objectives.

Marketing Strategy

The Marketing Strategy has recently been updated, but its single objective remains unchanged:-

  • to have the University of Westminster recognised by the year 2007 as the principal London institution for professionally centred higher education by its key stakeholders and thereby to achieve financial income targets.

Financial Strategy

The Financial Strategy has been reviewed, but its objectives remain as before:-

  • to improve resilience in an increasingly hostile competitive environment;
  • to make strategic investments in staff, information technology and estates;
  • to maximise the value achieved from the deployment of resources, and be accountable to key stakeholders in this regard;
  • to assess and manage risks associated with key organisational decisions and activities in order to improve the likelihood of a successful outcome;
  • to improve the quality of decision making by ensuring staff are equipped with the knowledge, tools and confidence to make sound judgments about the financial dimensions of a decision.

Estate and Physical Resources Strategy

The objectives of the Estate Strategy remain as defined in 1995:-

  • to improve the quality of the estate;
  • to rationalise the estate;
  • to optimise the internal and external use of physical resources;
  • to increase efficiency in space usage

The University is about to embark on the final stage of the completion of the Estates Strategy with a major refurbishment of the Cavendish Campus buildings. The Estates Strategy is due for review and updating within the next two years.

Information Strategy

The development of the Information Strategy has been overseen by the Information Strategy Committee, a joint committee of the Academic Council and the Vice Chancellor's Executive Group. Its objectives are:-

  • to provide timely and accurate information to enable effective decision making;
  • to promote management openness in communications;
  • to promote use of ICT and appropriate technologies in support of teaching
  • and learning, research and administration;
  • to enable and monitor the implementation of strategies and projects arising as part of the work of the Information Strategy Committee (including ICT Strategy and Implementation Plan);
  • to design strategies arising from the work of the e-business steering group and to monitor their implementation;
  • to support implementation of the Teaching and Learning and On Line Learning Policies;
  • to provide ready access to information resources to support study and research, using Internet technologies where appropriate;
  • to develop strategic partnerships with other institutions with a view to sharing information resources where appropriate.

Appendix 1

Income and Expenditure Projections

2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06
£000 £000 £000 £000 £000
Income
Funding Council Fees & Support Grants 50,029 50,493 50,798 51,331 52,222
Academic Fees & Support Grants 34,373 35,355 36,530 37,609 38,686
Other 4,254 4,987 5,112 5,239 5,370
Research Grants & Contracts 14,684 15,513 15,182 15,331 15,495
Endowment Income & Interest 1,176 509 563 543 771
TOTAL 104,516 106,857 108,185 110,053 112,544
 
Expenditure
Staff 54,291 59,188 60,366 62,460 64,629
Depreciation 2,798 3,018 3,232 3,453 3,368
Other 43,077 41,378 39,360 38,616 39,526
Interest 2,419 2,726 3,183 3,187 2,977
TOTAL 102,585 106,310 106,141 107,716 110,500

Appendix 2

Student Number Projections

2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06
Home O'seas Home O'seas Home O'seas Home O'seas Home O'seas
Full Time
UG 8,661 914 8,660 900 8,660 900 8,660 900 8,660 900
PG Taught 930 798 930 700 930 700 930 700 930 700
PG Research 78 61 80 60 80 60 80 60 80 60
 
TOTAL 9,669 1,773 9,670 1,660 9,670 1,660 9,670 1,660 9,670 1,660
 
Part Time
UG 5,945 554 6,280 560 6,780 560 6,960 560 6,960 560
PG Taught 3,293 191 3,300 170 3,300 170 3,300 170 3,300 170
PG Research 79 2 80 0 80 0 80 0 80 0
 
TOTAL 9,317 747 9,660 730 10,169 730 10,340 730 10,340 730

Appendix 3

2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06
Retention Targets 14% 14% 13% 12% 11%
Employability Targets 83.00% 83.00% 84.00% 85.00% 85.00%
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