Turning the Vision into reality
One year on, City's Strategic Plan continues to underpin the University's investment in excellence.
Since its approval by Council in March 2012, City's Strategic Plan 2012-2016 has provided a focal point for activity across the University. 2013 was a year of significant progress, as this Annual Report attests: our investment in academic excellence inspired an outstanding submission to the Research Excellence Framework; improvements to our Information Services provision reaped rewards with our National Student Survey results and ambitious changes to our estate generated an air of excitement across the campus. As this handful of highlights from 2013 demonstrates, effective implementation is generating impressive results.
Investment in academic staff
By the end of 2013, 141 new academic staff had been recruited by the University. This marked the end of a remarkable period of change, in which the proportion of academic staff undertaking world-leading or internationally excellent research more than doubled. These new colleagues are already enriching our research community and contributing to education and enterprise activities across the University. To gain an insight into what draws ambitious academics to City, we asked two new members of staff why they joined the University and what they aim to achieve while they are here.
Cass Business School is undertaking some of the most exciting research in Europe - it is exploratory, open to new ideas and I liked how many of the academics are trying to take a holistic point of view on the world of business.
Professor Peter Fleming, Professor of Business Strategy
Coming to City from New Zealand via Melbourne, the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London, Professor Peter Fleming specialises in the role of employment in our lives. He explores how people cope with the pressures imposed by modern working practices and examines their impact on our relationships and wellbeing. "I find our society extremely puzzling; I'm constantly trying to understand our behaviour in regards to work and the sociological aspects of organisations that govern society," he explains. "With my research, I'm able to take a step back from the everyday processes and try and make sense of the society in which we live."
Ask the same question of Professor Susan Ayers, whose research focuses on the commonly occurring but often overlooked trauma experienced by women following a distressing birth and she too emphasises the opportunities that exist at City: "There is so much relevant research going on here. The School of Health Sciences is undertaking innovative work with technology. Research is also being carried out into maternal help and midwifery care, both of which are important to birth trauma." Given a mandate to establish the Centre for Maternal and Child Health with colleagues at City, Susan is excited about its potential impact. "Now I can contribute directly to midwifery education and I hope our research can influence the next generation of midwives," she says.
Investment in our estate
Implementation of the Strategic Estate Investment Plan began in earnest in 2013, as several major construction projects were launched. Over the next five years, up to £130 million will be invested in our estate, bringing redundant spaces back into use and creating outstanding new academic facilities.
At the start of the 2013/14 academic year, new and returning students were greeted by a rejuvenated campus at Northampton Square and an entirely new facility for the Cass Executive programmes at 200 Aldersgate. At our main site in EC1, the first element of the three-phase Lecture Space project has delivered stunning new education spaces, created from long-neglected basement areas of the University Building.
Schools have also benefited from the first phase of the Strategic Plan's estate investment. The undergraduate programme at Cass Business School now has enlarged, refurbished accommodation in the Drysdale Building, while The City Law School and the School of Health Sciences have seen substantial investments in academic office space through improvements in the Tait Building and the complete refurbishment of the Gloucester Building.
Engineering facilities have been transformed, as almost the entire lower ground floor of the Tait Building has been reconfigured to provide a new undergraduate laboratory, engineering hall, improved research space and a new wind tunnel. Meanwhile, comprehensive changes have taken place behind the scenes at Northampton Square to ensure that our new spaces and those planned for the coming years are adequately provisioned with power, data and other utilities.
2013 was also a year in which we looked forward to future projects. We secured planning consent for further major development of the University, including an iconic new building on Sebastian Street, a complete remodelling of our main entrance and circulation area and wholesale changes to the Tait Building. We have also acquired Abacus House, close to our Innovation Building, which will be brought into use in the next twelve months.
While the past year has witness the passing of several major milestones, we are poised to deliver even more impressive results, as several transformational projects are set to break ground in the coming year.
Investment in Information Services
To inspire pride in the quality of our education, as outlined in the Strategic Plan, we need to continue to exploit the enormous potential of technology. To this end, Information Services (IS), working in collaboration with the Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) team, has established the infrastructure needed to achieve our Vision in the increasingly global higher education market.
The first year of implementation of the Strategic Plan has laid the foundations for a more stable and reliable IT infrastructure and services that will deliver an improved experience to our students and staff. Evidence that IS is beginning to make a difference was offered by City's improved National Student Survey results for 2013. In particular, investment in the library collections and services has been praised by our student community.
Professor Richard Verrall