Investing in our five year plan
City's Strategic Plan
Across the University, change is in the air. In March 2012, the Council of City University London approved the Strategic Plan. An ambitious document backed by an equally ambitious investment programme, it explains in detail how we will achieve our Vision of being "a leading global university committed to academic excellence, focused on business and the professions and located in the heart of London". And since its publication, the pace of change has quickened. Here, Professor Richard Verrall, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Strategy & Planning) provides an insight into the first steps of bringing the Plan to life.
In both the Strategic Plan and the Vision that inspired it, the idea of pride emerges again and again. For our academic and professional staff, the Plan inspires greater institutional self-confidence; a recognition of City's strengths and status as a leading centre for education, research and enterprise. For City students, it aims to ensure graduates regard City as an essential feature of their personal 'brand' as they build their careers; and feel proud of their connections to City long after they have left the corridors of Northampton Square.
So how is the Plan structured?
With three strategic themes of education, research and enterprise, the Plan covers the full range of the University's academic activity, while its enabling themes emphasise community, physical presence and effective leadership. The implementation is being driven by eight work streams, each led by members of the University Executive Committee, including Deans and Heads of Professional Services. Already the benefits are being felt and you can see evidence throughout this Annual Report that the Strategic Plan is informing and inspiring new activity across the University, providing clarity of focus for both our 'business as usual' and new initiatives.
The five year investment programme, approved in March, targets three main areas for investment:
- The recruitment of excellent academics
- The University's estate, property and facilities
- The information systems and services infrastructure to support our commitment to academic excellence.
A virtuous circle: the recruitment of excellent academics
From the earliest articulation of the City Vision, the recruitment of outstanding international academic staff was a key priority. Investing in academic talent creates a virtuous circle, in which quality attracts quality: the brightest students are attracted in greater numbers to a University with an outstanding academic reputation, which can only be built by academic staff who are leaders in their fields. Work to increase the number of City academics in this category began before the approval of the Plan: in this first phase, some 55 academics were recruited. Between March and December, 48 more were recruited and activity will continue through 2013, with a goal of recruiting an additional 58.
Building the Vision: investing in the estate
During 2012, we invested more than £15 million in improving the University estate: much of the School of Health Sciences, together with many Professional Services teams, moved to 1 Myddelton Street, the latest addition to the estate. With the founding of the City Graduate School came the Graduate School Library Centre, located in the heart of the University Building and already a popular space for the University's research students. At the end of the year, The City Law School moved to a reconfigured space in the Innovation Centre, adjacent to the Social Sciences Building. Law students and staff, together with their counterparts in the School of Arts & Social Sciences, now have easy access to the Social Sciences Building, which has an impressive new entrance, reception and events space.
The developments of 2012 offer an exciting preview to the Estate Plan, which will see the investment of up to £130M in City's buildings and facilities. During 2012, design work began on new lecture spaces in the University Building, the expansion of the undergraduate facilities for Cass Business School and the refurbishment of the Tait Building: building work will commence on these and other projects during 2013. Longer term, the Estate Plan includes the redevelopment of the front entrance atrium (shown in the visual above) and a new iconic building on the southeast corner of the main University campus, at the corner of Sebastian Street and Goswell Road.
Investing in the future: Information Services
Improving the University's Information Technology and Library provision is crucial to virtually every aspect of the Strategic Plan. Students coming to City rightfully demand libraries that provide the resources needed for their learning; IT facilities that are extensive and up-to-date; and IT support that enables them to study when and where they prefer. Outstanding IT and Library facilities are also crucial if the University is to support academic staff as they engage in research and enterprise.
Significant progress in both of these areas was made during 2012. In time for the new academic year in September, extended opening hours for the libraries were agreed. We introduced new assistive technology laboratories and a Financial Resources Suite equipped with state-of-the-art Bloomberg terminals and Thomson Reuters PCs. We also overhauled the University's wireless internet provision and introduced "eduroam", a service that allows staff and students to access wireless internet at participating institutions around the world. In addition, the IT Service Desk established 24 hour telephone support, 365 days a year for staff and students.
By September, City Research Online, a digital archive of research and enterprise output from City University London staff, had grown to contain more than 1,000 full text papers and 25,000 bibliographic records. New Research Support Librarians joined the University and the libraries have also invested in a range of resources for research to enhance our support infrastructure for this area of University life.
During 2013, the University will be delivering several new projects. To name just two, there will be substantial investment in the libraries' collections of printed and electronic books and subscriptions to journals and databases; and the introduction of single sign-on technology will allow staff and students to access University IT resources seamlessly.