The 2019 Recovery Plan

Friday 22 March 2019

Since joining the University last summer, I’ve met many colleagues and I’ve been really struck by their desire to rebuild the University’s reputation and develop a strong identity that we can all be proud of. This is a goal that I very much share.

Leicester is an outstanding university but we have lost ground in an increasingly competitive environment. So, over the coming weeks, I would like to start the process of refreshing our strategic plan by engaging with colleagues across the University and seeking your views to identify what is required to deliver a new vision for this institution.

In the meantime, there are some basic issues that we need to get right, which are characterised by our 2019 Recovery Plan. If you have not yet had the chance to look at this plan, you can find it here (login required).

The plan re-asserts four areas of focus – three are core activity for the University and one underpins all three of those core areas. We will be focusing upon student experience, research excellence and student recruitment, with staff morale being the final element which is a key enabler in improving our performance.

Whilst some of the work can be regarded as ‘business as usual’, there are areas of the plan that involve new ideas, initiatives and investments. It should be regarded as a single direction that we can all collectively own and contribute to, in order to make the necessary improvements we need to help us achieve our goals. I know many of you are already contributing a huge amount to this and I appreciate all your hard work.

Our aims in the four areas are as follows:

Student experience and success

Objective: Delivering an outstanding student experience which, in turn, will ensure we retain a silver rating in TEF5.

Outcome: Increased student satisfaction shown in NSS results and league table positions.

Research excellence

Objective: To increase our research performance across the institution, with the goal of achieving a top 40 (GPA) position nationally in REF 2021.

Outcome: Increased research performance, reputation and funding.

Student recruitment

Objective: Stabilise student recruitment to achieve target whilst maintaining minimum standard tariff score.

Outcome: Ensures short term financial stability whilst we develop a longer term plan for growth.

Staff morale

Objective: Improve staff morale as shown by the 2020 staff survey results.

Outcome: Better staff morale will help us achieve the rest of the 2019 Recovery Plan and retain our talented people for the future.

This plan has been live for three months, following its presentation to Council last November. It is now a permanent ULT agenda item for 2019 with Council receiving regular updates on progress. We’ve created an easy-to-access area on Sharepoint where you can find the details of the plan and where we will share our progress and regular updates just visit the Recovery Plan website (login required).

Over the coming months I will update you on specific areas of the 2019 Recovery Plan, but after three months of activity, I’m confident that we are already making progress:

  • This month we agreed the proposal for our mock-REF which will assist our ‘REF-ready’ approach and which will provide us with critically important data for our REF 2021 preparations.
  • Despite student recruitment remaining challenging, it’s encouraging to see the great efforts underway across academic departments and professional services in delivering strong offer-holder days. Our admissions turnaround target from 22 days to 10 has been achieved (currently at 6.75 days for undergraduate), and the number of students firmly accepting our offer is improving daily. I am very grateful for the dedication and commitment of our staff across the entire University.
  • We all understand the importance of achieving, and where possible exceeding, our student recruitment targets this year. Tuition fees are vital to our financial sustainability. Alongside our increased focus on student recruitment activities we are also working with colleagues across the institution to deliver the budget both this year and next. By effectively managing both our pay and non-pay budgets we intend to deliver a small surplus which we can invest into core activities.

There is, however, still much to do and so I would urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the plan and to support the outcomes we’re looking for. I’m also mindful that a ‘Recovery Plan’ could suggest that the University has been in poor health - but we shouldn’t view it as that - we should regard recovery as the University having the opportunity to regain something we have lost: our confidence and belief that we are a great University.

Thank you for all your efforts – we still have some way to go but are making very good progress and I feel very confident about the future.

All the best

Edmund