Our strategic priorities: Maintain quality trajectory ('better')
City is a unique combination of being both 'research intensive' and 'student centred' and, for that reason, a vital part of academic excellence is student satisfaction led by the experience our students have while they are studying at City and as alumni.
We achieved both and they were central to delivering City’s Vision 2016, which had academic excellence at its heart. The outcome of the last Research Excellence Framework in 2014 (‘REF2014’) confirmed City as an institution with research intensity. City’s performance in the National Student Survey over the period has shown that, with clarity and focus, a central London location is no barrier to increasing student satisfaction.
This all demonstrates that the Virtuous Circle, driven by academic excellence in research, education and student experience, which underpinned the Strategic Plan 2012 to 2016 remains valid.
Research trends show a widening gap between newer institutions with areas of high quality research and more traditional, research intensive universities and colleges with high quality research in most of their disciplines. While City has taken some steps towards research intensity, it is vital from the perspective of our reputation and the contribution we can make to wider society that City keeps pace with the research intensive universities and colleges that are now among our peer group. That means a focus on research intensity and research quality.
Taking the measure of the proportion of academic staff producing 4* or 3* (world-leading or internationally excellent) research, our plan is for at least 60% of our total academic staff to reach that threshold, primarily through the development of existing staff and proactive recruitment which leverages City’s reputation for research excellence. This move from 40% to at least 60% will ensure that, for the first time in our history, the majority of our academic staff will be producing 4* and 3* research. This is a major step but it is half the move we have made already within the period of the Strategic Plan 2012 to 2016.
Lord Stern’s independent review of the process for assessing university research and allocating public funding is likely to have a profound impact on the next REF. City’s approach to the REF is focused on the key measure of intensity (4* or 3*) and seeks to encourage the creation of new knowledge in line with Lord Stern’s recommendations. City’s Research & Enterprise Strategy is where our approach to the crucial question of impact is set out in greater detail, including the widening and deepening of impact to include public engagement, culture and pedagogy. City will broaden as well as deepen its research by the time of REF2021 in line with the Research Academic Output KPI in the Vision & Strategy 2026 and the measures of success that are set out in the Research & Enterprise Strategy.
Coupled with a focus on significantly increasing research quality (4*), this will complete the journey begun by City in 2010. Partnership working, notably through membership of the University of London, will accelerate our improvement through opportunities to collaborate and will further enhance our research culture. Opportunities for partnership will increase as our quality increases.
City is a unique combination of being both ‘research intensive’ and ‘student centred’ and, for that reason, a vital part of academic excellence is student satisfaction led by the experience our students have while they are studying at City and as alumni. City has made tremendous progress with student satisfaction and we now have the most satisfied university students in London. It is important to maintain this enviable position and to focus on the wider areas of student experience that are distinctive to City given its focus on business and the professions. City’s Education & Student Strategy is the roadmap that lays out the direction of travel for:
- Curriculum and embedded employability;
- Student opportunity and community;
- Student support;
- Supporting and enabling staff to enhance the student experience.
In the Strategic Plan 2012 to 2016 we committed to double the proportion of our staff producing world-leading or internationally excellent research and improve the satisfaction of our undergraduate students so that we moved from the lowest 20% to the top 40% of UK universities.”
Within these strands of work, areas of prime importance for the experience of our students are progression, completion and employability, all of which have the potential to improve significantly in some academic disciplines. Better progression and completion rates will be achieved by suitably designed help, support and encouragement of students both during and after studies.
City moved up to 15th in the Times and Sunday Times University League Tables 2017 for employability and aspires to maintain its position relative to the sector over the life of Vision & Strategy 2026. City already does a significant amount to prepare its students for the workplace, including for example, through an employability module in The City Law School curriculum. Embedding employability in this way and in internships and placements is where City will significantly enhance its offer to students over the next five years in the highly competitive higher education sector and labour markets.