Strategic plan Transforming lives through excellent education

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1 Strategic plan Transforming lives through excellent education

2 Foreword Transforming lives through excellent education London Met enters the period facing greater challenges than perhaps at any point in its history. Some of these challenges are internal and specific to the University, others relate to the external environment. Higher education has undergone rapid and radical change since the Browne Review (2010), and all the indications are that change and instability will continue for the foreseeable future. While this has also affected the University s competitors, London Met - for a variety of reasons - has found the new environment particularly difficult. Underlying this strategic plan are two primary goals for the next planning period: to secure financial sustainability, and to coalesce around the common purpose of ensuring that London Met can improve the outcomes for its students. Firstly, for the reason that this is the core of the institution s mission. Secondly, this is important because universities hold no monopoly on higher education or training and no university has a right to exist. Universities which do not clearly articulate and deliver quality in the eyes of their students, applicants and the public will simply shrink, and eventually be replaced as they are overtaken by competitors and newcomers. Thirdly, it has been clearly signalled that future access to taxpayer funds and the charging of full fees is to be related to quality of outcomes, such as degree completions, dropout rates, teaching quality, graduate employment rates, and capacity of graduates to repay their loans. However, this strategic plan is about much more than identifying problems in 2015 and fixing them by It is about that of course, but it is also about becoming a University community, which, as a matter of routine, identifies and fixes problems, which both shapes and is shaped by developments in its environment. There are two reasons for optimism. Firstly, the submissions by staff, students and stakeholders in the course of developing this strategic plan show that a great many people care deeply about the future of this institution. Secondly, among those commenting, there was an overwhelming commitment to the University s access mission, expressed in this plan as transforming lives through excellent education. Many are attracted by and remain at London Met because of this mission, which remains fundamentally unchanged in the current plan, reflecting the sense of identity with it which came through strongly in the submissions. This commitment to London Met and its mission gives grounds for hope that, if the University community can unite with a common purpose behind the twin goals outlined above, London Met will secure a stable and prosperous future for itself over the next five years. Having articulated and delivered quality for a period of time leading to tangibly improved outcomes and a healing of the brand of London Met, it should become possible to stabilise and eventually increase enrolments and continue to deliver the University s mission into the future. Professor John Raftery Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Page 02

3 Academic vision To be a university of choice, transforming lives for a diverse range of students from London, the UK and around the world. Students choose London Met because they believe that studying with us will make their lives better. This means that we have to show that the experience they will receive, and their prospects after graduation, will surpass the alternatives available to them. London Met does not simply transmit knowledge to students. We provide them with access to the latest knowledge via digital platforms, develop their skills through guidance and mentorship, and immerse students in situations that encourage the development of analytical reasoning, critical thinking and higher level competencies that connect directly to real-world applications, to life and career. By supporting social engagement and an active campus community, we develop effective, engaged citizens who will contribute to the life of our city and to building a better, fairer society. Our primary challenge over the next five years is to lift our core performance, in absolute terms and relative to other universities, to better deliver our mission to students. This will require determined, sustained and collective effort to ensure that we are a university which is: Sustainable: balancing income and expenditure, generating surpluses for renewal and investment, and outperforming competitors Academically excellent: delivering unambiguously high quality inspirational teaching and research Transformative: opening doors to fulfilling careers for its graduates Adaptable: able to respond flexibly to the changing environment, with capacity for renewal and selfcorrection of its shortcomings and Energised and connected: highly committed staff, aware of our performance relative to others, focused on coaching and developing our students, engaged with our communities and the wider world Page 03

4 Our mission Transforming lives through excellent education London Met is rightly proud of its history as an access university. Since we were created in 2002, more than 60,000 students have graduated with our degrees, many of whom would otherwise have been unable to enter higher education. Like our predecessors stretching back to 1848, we build bridges to the future for our students, giving them the skills to transform their lives and careers, stacking the odds in their favour. In this respect, our mission in will remain the same as it has always been. Many of our students come from sections of society that are disadvantaged in access to education and employment. This means that it is incumbent on us to provide them with the best possible education to improve their life chances and develop and enrich them as individuals. Over the next five years, we will refocus and reconfigure the University to do this more effectively, and to do so in a way that is sustainable and selfcorrecting, allowing us to continue to deliver our mission into the future. Our mission is not just about access to higher education; it is about transforming lives through excellent education. We will maintain excellence in learning and teaching where it exists and extend it to where it does not. We recognise and embrace the fact that we are a teaching-led, student-focused institution. Scholarship and research are important to us where they support our mission, Transforming lives through excellent education. Our promise to students: what this means for you We want London Met to be a university where the interests of our students drive everything that we do. When you join London Met as a student, we will involve you as an active partner in shaping your learning and your future. Through a series of measures that we will implement progressively over the period , we will: Give you an excellent education: your teaching will be led by qualified, energised academic staff delivering up-to-date courses. We will invest in our facilities and our IT systems that are essential to your education Prepare you for employment: you will have access to an external or internal accredited placement during your undergraduate course (for first-year students commencing in September 2015). We will help you to develop the skills (like networking and interviewing) that you will need to have when looking for a job. We can offer you excellent careers advice and can support your business ideas through Accelerator, our specialist business incubator. When we have part-time or casual posts available, we will make them available to suitably qualified students where appropriate. Any internships we offer will be for our own recent graduates Prepare you for life: university is about more than getting a job. Through our active Students Union and student societies, our vibrant campus life, and opportunities for volunteering and social engagement, Page 04

5 you will have the chance to develop as an individual, to build friendships and social networks, and contribute to making our city a better place Be flexible: we know that our students lead busy lives and that you probably have work or family commitments. We will be flexible in how we teach you: from onwards, every course will have a presence on our virtual learning environment, and we will develop more and more opportunities for you to learn remotely, at times and in locations that suit you Support you: if you need help in your course or in your life outside it, our Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) mentoring scheme, our counselling service and our teams dealing with funding and disabilities will be there to support you. If you are a full-time undergraduate student eligible for the full maintenance grant, you will be eligible in for a 1k London Met cash bursary (subject to review in future years). Between when you accept our offer and when you enrol, we will introduce you to London Met and will help to prepare you for life at university Engage with you: we believe that students should be active partners in shaping their education, to create a genuine learning community. Through our network of Student Academic Representatives (StARs) and involving students in our governance and decision making, we will ensure that the voice of students is heard Listen to you: if you tell us you are dissatisfied, we will listen and we will respond to what you say. We will launch a module feedback scheme led and administered by students so that you can help us improve the quality of our teaching This is our academic vision: a university that is centred on the needs of you, our students. The objectives in our strategic plan are intended to achieve this while remaining sustainable. We believe in doing what we say. The London Met promise is five key things that we expect students to hold us to account for delivering in the period : 1. Real work experience while studying: an accredited workrelated learning opportunity during your course, for first-year undergraduates commencing their courses in September Earn while you learn: where appropriate, University part time and casual employment will be made available first to suitably qualified students, commencing in September Student involvement in improving teaching quality: we will develop a student-led module feedback system. Feedback to tutors bringing about changes in teaching delivery in real time, led by students 4. Cash to help with student life: a 1000 cash bursary for ALL full-time undergraduate students who qualify for the full maintenance grant in (subject to review in future years) 5. Coaching for your success: free supplemental instruction under the PASS scheme (can lead to an uplift of about 10% in grades) Our student charter will be refreshed to reflect this vision and these promises, and will be reviewed annually over the life of this strategic plan. Page 05

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7 Our values Our values guide our behaviour and actions. We believe in: Integrity We will Act ethically, openly and with mutual respect Be accountable for our failures as well as our successes Know that fairness is not always the same as equality Base our decisions on robust data and on candid assessment Manage our resources prudently to sustain the University for the future Excellence We will Aim for flawless delivery and learn from our mistakes Seek to continually improve what we do Create an environment which attracts and retains the best people who share our commitment and values Demand the best from our students and staff and support them in achieving it Service We will Put our students and their futures first in all that we do Educate to improve the life chances of our students Take the time to know our students and develop them as individuals Seek to exceed expectations Make a difference, leave things better than we found them Collaboration and teamwork We will Work together with common purpose to live the values and achieve the vision for London Met Enjoy working with others and actively seek to improve what we do Actively contribute to the performance of colleagues, our team and connected teams Take pride in our own work and that of the team Expect commitment to the mission, values and objectives of the University from all who work and study here Effective citizenship We will Expect a professional ethos from all members of our community Promote global citizenship and care for the needs of future generations Promote social justice through our programmes and through opportunities for volunteering Support local and wider communities and contribute actively to our city Celebrate diversity Page 07

8 Our size and shape The university that we plan to be As a result of reductions in student numbers over the past decade, the University is today about half of its previous size. Our vision for the future of London Met is to lift the University s core performance in academic quality and financial sustainability, leading to improved reputation and enrolments. However, these efforts will take time to bear fruit. Until that happens, it is likely that the trends of recent years will continue, and that student numbers (and therefore revenue) will at best, be stable at the current level and, as is more likely, will continue to fall. This means that we must plan proactively for what is now the certainty of a smaller university, while simultaneously improving our academic outcomes - relative to other competing universities - in order to grow London Met. We have commenced the process of modelling what that university would look like in terms of estate, staffing and curriculum, and how the transition would be financed. The outcome of this work will shape our decisions in the rest of This should be seen as part of our path to stability and regrowth: a London Met that is smaller but more stable, operating on a much more compact, better quality estate with a significantly more focused curriculum. From that base, we would regrow when the benefits of improved performance begin to flow through. Page 08

9 Our priorities for Our strategic priorities to achieve our vision for 2020 and deliver our promise to students are described below. Financial sustainability Reflecting recent trends in our student numbers, we will plan proactively for a smaller institution in the short to medium term, and what this will require in terms of our estate and staffing. Our efforts to improve academic quality and student retention will provide a base of stability from which we can then seek to regrow We will review and revise our academic portfolio, ensuring that programmes are viable both financially and in terms of quality. Investing in areas of success and with potential for growth, and disinvesting where this is lacking We will continue to rebuild international student recruitment by developing key relationships and strategic partnerships, managing visa-regulation risks, and through carefully targeted marketing We will focus relentlessly on revenue generation and on reducing the time spent by our academic staff on unnecessary administration and non-revenue generating activities To maximise resource available for student learning and the student experience, we will review management structures and academic leadership roles, and where possible reduce hierarchies, to ensure that they are consistent, effective and at the minimum level necessary We will focus Met2020 investment on large-scale, transformational, cross-institutional projects designed to improve outcomes for students and, where appropriate, staff To achieve our mission, we have to work together. We will break down the silos between our departments and services. We will emphasise cross-university teamwork and collaboration in services and projects, and will actively recruit individuals who embrace these values We will implement an annual operational planning and challenge process which ensures that all units of the university are aligned to our objectives and are held to account for their contribution to outcomes, explicitly learning from failure and celebrating success As an organisation which routinely learns and adapts, we will undertake post-implementation evaluations of all major decisions and projects We will enter into partnerships which are consistent with our values and help us to achieve the objectives in this strategic plan Just as our future depends on being a destination of choice for students, it also depends on being an employer of choice for staff. We will seek to recruit and retain talent, requiring all incoming staff to have a coaching and developing mindset. We will pay particular attention to finding individuals who can inspire colleagues and students to contribute to an engaged, optimistic and dynamic organisation Page 09

10 Quality in education We will treat students as partners in shaping their education, through our StARs scheme, by involving students in decision making, and through the launch of a university-wide module feedback scheme which is led and administered by students We will take more proactive management action on improving teaching quality by launching, in October 2015, a scheme for management observation of classroom teaching We will ensure that there is accountability for improving the student experience in our faculties and departments, with line of sight from the VC to clearly designated roles We will introduce a university-wide course evaluation scheme for all our undergraduate and postgraduate courses aimed at enhancing student engagement and achievement We will seek to improve our students academic success and persistence through the Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) student mentoring scheme and similar schemes We will seek to close the gap between Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and non-bme students achieving good first degrees Many of our students require flexibility to balance study with work and family commitments. To provide the flexibility that our students tell us they want, every course will have a presence on our virtual learning environment. We will further develop alternatives to traditional methods of delivery, such as distance and blended learning and extended opening We will aim for 100% of our academic staffing establishment to have, or be working towards an HEA Fellowship or other qualification for university teaching We will continue to prioritise compliance with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education and ensuring a successful outcome to our Higher Education Review (HER) in We will require all academic staff to train as peer observers of teaching in preparation for the HER We will only admit students with the potential to succeed and who are likely to persist to the completion of their programme. Where necessary, we will change our admissions and orientation processes to support this. We will support offer-holders through to enrolment to develop their relationship with the University and prepare them for study We will extend and deepen our outreach to local schools and further education colleges to develop pathways to the University We will enrich our students experience by supporting a strong Students Union, student societies and a vibrant campus life We will deepen our links with the communities around us through an active programme of student-led community engagement We will demand credible improvement plans from programmes which significantly underperform on the NSS, and will close those that fail to improve Quality in employment outcomes Every first-year undergraduate student commencing in will be afforded the opportunity for at least one significant creditbearing work-related learning or startup opportunity as part of the core curriculum of their programme, during their course at London Met We will embed the development of skills that support employment, enterprise and entrepreneurship in our academic portfolio and curriculum across all faculties We will develop student selfawareness, self-belief and confidence to achieve realistic career goals We will celebrate the successes of our graduates and the inspiration that they provide Page 10

11 We will further support our graduates into work through schemes like the London Met Graduate Internship Scheme, a proactive Careers Service and business startup programmes at Accelerator We will continue to develop links with our alumni, using these networks to provide opportunities for our students We will continue to foster entrepreneurship among our students and recent graduates, giving them the skills, networks and confidence to start successful and sustainable businesses Our engagement with enterprise and industry will be concentrated on improving the employment, self-employment and job creation prospects of our students Quality in research and scholarship We will continue to support and focus on scholarship and research that enriches the educational experience of our students We will bring research into the heart of our faculties and academic schools, ensuring that it contributes positively to the mission of the University We will hold ourselves to account by monitoring how the time allocated to scholarly activity is used and the effectiveness and impact of research outputs, supporting success and addressing issues of underperformance Quality in our enablers Responding to the 2015 staff experience survey, we will review our performance management and reward structures, to incentivise good performance and address disengagement All staff will be required and supported to undertake annual professional development Appraisal and professional development interviews will be carried out for all staff, every year It is essential that we unite as a community behind this strategic plan. We will provide pathways out of the University for those who fail to align with our mission, values and objectives. We will also celebrate - through our London Met Heroes campaign and similar campaigns - those who demonstrate that they are living our mission, values and objectives We will be open and honest with staff and students about the University s strengths and weaknesses, and will listen and respond to feedback We will address the barriers which staff tell us stand in their way of working effectively, within their teams and across teams We will prioritise improvements in IT systems that support our objectives of improving sustainability and quality; in particular, improvements which empower and increase productivity for staff and students, drive efficiency and support distance and blended learning We will continue to reduce our environmental impact and to use resources in an environmentally sustainable and responsible way When improving our facilities, we will seek quick wins that address, within the bounds of affordability, the issues highlighted by our students and staff Page 11

12 Monitoring progress, targets and milestones We will implement this strategic plan through strategies in the following areas, which will have targets consistent with the strategic plan: Financial sustainability Student outcomes: learning, teaching, student experience (including VLE), employment Human resources and talent management International Estates IT Research, knowledge transfer and enterprise These enabling strategies will be developed as a first and urgent priority between July and October 2015 when they will be discussed widely in the London Met community and implemented with immediate effect. We will regularly report progress to the Board of Governors using the following Key Performance Indicators (which will be kept under review). These KPIs and targets reflect the type of university which we aim to be by 2020: Sustainability Annual operating surplus target of greater than 5%, with an aim of 8% Margin for Sustainability and Investment (MSI) target of at least 10% Staff costs as a percentage of income match the average for similar London HEIs Net liquidity as a number of days of expenditure matches the sector average Net operating cash flow as a % of income matches the sector average Income per academic increases to competitor average Meet or exceed new and returning student targets Quality More than 80% of our students will identify London Met as providing a consistently excellent student experience NSS overall university score converges on the sector average and will be greater than the average for similar London HEIs The proportion of graduates in employment or further study will exceed the University s benchmark We will reduce dropout. The proportion of students continuing or qualifying at London Met will exceed the average for similar London universities Page 12

13 Monitoring progress, targets and milestones The proportion of students achieving good first degrees (first or 2.1) will match the average for similar London universities We will close the attainment gap. The proportion of BME students achieving good first degrees will match the average for similar London universities Internally, we will regularly monitor numerous additional Performance Indicators to assess progress on the implementation of the strategic plan. Page 13

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