The University Executive Committee is responsible for all matters associated with the development and management of the university.
Last updated: 16 December 2022
1. This Strategy lays out the University’s aims, ambitions, and aspirations as it develops its future-facing educational offer over the period of the Strategic Plan (2022-2027).
2. Our University Strategic Plan 2022-2027 provides for us the overarching mission, vision, and values by which our Education Strategy is shaped. Each Goal, Thematic Ambition, and Pillar is pertinent, as are other key University Strategies and Programmes such as Portfolio Diversification; Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI); Digital; Sustainability; Student Wellbeing; People; and Marketing & Communications. To that end, this Strategy should be read in conjunction with these.
3. Its Goals focus on what a future-facing education will look like; the student and staff experience of being part of this; the place of research in that education; how our partnerships will contribute; and the need to ensure the strongest possible underpinning quality and systems. The Goals – their definitions – lay out our destinations; their associated actions will get us there.
4. By the end of the period this Strategy covers, we want to see our graduates securely in professional employment across the board; our continuation and completion rates high and stable; our access and participation goals realised; our portfolio delivering a strong, relevant, diversified and attractive programme of courses; and our staff well-equipped to support our students to succeed and the University as a whole to realise its ambitions.
5. The Higher Education sector has faced significant challenges over the last few years through a combination of increased regulation, static funding models, ever-strengthening scrutiny and regulatory requirements from the Office for Students and the Department for Education, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The current policy environment that emphasises a specific form of student success and prioritises a more limited and utilitarian set of subjects is particularly testing.
6. Globally, Higher Education faces competition from alternative models offered via improving technology, and the general trend towards mass Higher Education has been reflected over the last twenty years in the UK, with the result that the country now has an ever-increasing group of providers: traditional and alternative, very large and very small, comprehensive and highly specialised. This maps against the start of the upturn in the proportion of 18-year-olds in England, complemented by a Government interest in lifelong learning and complicated by a Government insistence on separating out technical from other forms of study.
7. We are continually mindful of the need to view our educational offer through the multiple lenses of academic excellence, subject currency and viability, regulatory standards, student expectations, and market demand. In addition, we understand the ongoing challenges of offering our educational portfolio in a crowded sector, and in establishing our position as a mid-tariff Higher Education Institution facing competition from above and below.
8. Because of work done over the last few years, we are well-positioned to meet Government objectives for a balance between degree-level (including apprenticeships) and Higher Technical study, with a portfolio that covers subjects closely aligned to vocational and practical careers complemented by those that prepare students to create their own professional pathways.
9. Underpinning all University activity are our ambitions for significant growth in student numbers. This will require work in developing and diversifying our academic portfolio and attracting new student types from a broader demographic to our existing and future portfolio, both key elements of our Portfolio Diversification Programme. We must also continue to build our academic and employer collaborations so that they are sustainable and high-quality. This will contribute to our ability to draw students from a much wider geographical span as well, both in the UK and internationally.
10. Our student body is increasingly diverse, and we want this diversity to spread across our courses and campuses. In order to meet their needs and support the highest quality of learning, we must continue to develop our materials and our praxis as informed by our institutional definitions of equity, diversity and inclusion. This also helps support our staff diversification and creates a virtuous circle that allows staff and students to learn from each other. In particular, our educational offer, and the pedagogical development of our academic staff, must harmonise with our commitment to, and services in support of, our students’ good mental health and wellbeing. We must also be mindful of our commitments in our Access and Participation Plan (APP), since this maps our intentions to minimise awarding gaps and ensure our students complete their studies.
11. We have developed this Education Strategy in consultation with staff and students across the University, via the Strategic Enhancement Group, Academic Leadership Group, Student Subject Coordinators and Course Representatives, and workshops with our National Teaching Fellows and University Teaching Fellows.
12. As a learning-led University aspiring to research richness, we see our educational offer as defined by the success of our students, as reflected not only in their results but also their capacity to take the next steps in life that will enable them to lead fulfilling and enjoyable lives.
13. Therefore, this Education Strategy lays a direction of travel, the Education of the Future, that builds on the best of what we currently offer while also anticipating the areas of change and adaptation required in Higher Education in general, and at the University of Gloucestershire in particular. We have concluded that the best way to support our graduates into the future they choose is to characterise all of our courses as purposefully professional and employment-focussed. To achieve this, our courses will have relevance to the world of work, in particular professional-level employment, as an expression of our commitment to prepare our students for successful careers in their chosen fields.
14. For us, therefore, the Education of the Future not only equips our graduates with subject expertise, it also enables them to flourish in an uncertain and varied employment market, able to meet the challenges of career pathways that are liable to unexpected twists and turns, and equipped with a readiness to apply their knowledge across different fora. This is not limited to their capacity to make best possible use of their qualifications in employment; however, developing the professional identities of our students-as-graduates, no matter the nature of their course, is nonetheless key. All of our graduates should feel ready to be productive and successful in graduate-level employment, and our educational offer will expand so that their courses support this self-development.
15. The Education of the Future has adaptability, agility, and flexibility at its core, because the world of the future will rely on graduates who have the capacity to sift information critically, make creative use of their knowledge, are not afraid to adapt, and are knowledgeably agile. We will explore the best ways in which our subjects can be in conversation, crossing disciplines where possible, so that our students may understand how to weigh and evaluate information in different, sometimes competing lights.
16. Our Goals therefore reflect our emphasis on enlisting students as active, co-creating partners in their own learning. Their overall educational experience will encompass the curricular, the co-curricular, and the extra-curricular, encouraging them to develop their own capacity to integrate knowledge. Their learning will be in the service of their development as well-rounded, knowledgeable, confident and work-ready.
17. Our Education Strategy will give us the tools with which we can more visibly craft, and therefore articulate, our pedagogical excellence. This is also about instilling and amplifying our institutional pride as a University that serves its region as well as its students and staff with an educational offer that advances the progress of all.
18. Our excellence, as measured by 1) our course currency, staff and student satisfaction, and positive student outcomes, 2) our ability to demonstrate and communicate excellence, and 3) our commitment to developing and supporting excellence in our students and students-as-graduates, will substantiate and design what we mean by Education of the Future. Our responsiveness to our regional and national requirements, and international expectations, will derive from this future-facing excellence, the guiding ambition of our Education Strategy.
19. This Strategy sounds a note of pragmatism. While capacity for flexibility and change will be important as we develop our Education of the Future, we must also be prepared to allow for stability within the portfolio, and to achieve change and growth without too-frequent recourse to the development of new courses. We have a full and comprehensive portfolio, and while there will be opportunities for new subject areas which we must seize, we must avoid diffusing institutional energy across too many fields.
a. By future-facing, we mean a continuing alertness to the needs and requirements of professions that are themselves continually self-assessing – but also challenging ourselves and all our subjects to push against convention and tradition: to offer the Education of the Future.
b. ‘Inclusive’ means that our pedagogy will reflect our understanding of the individuality of students and their capacity to contribute in interesting and globally-relevant ways to their learning experience. This entails going beyond the transactional (e.g. student feedback), although this is certainly a part of it. More importantly, it means proactive engagement with students to secure their participation in module, course and assessment design along with regular stock-takes. This can happen at various levels; what is key is that students become active partners in appropriate ways.
c. This contributes to integrating a professionalised identity into every course and enlisting our students as active agents in this. This creates an environment in which students increasingly see themselves as professionals in training, taking from their courses not only subject knowledge but the competencies and behaviours they need to progress to professional careers, and to continue to develop their careers thereafter.
d. Multi-disciplinarity, like inclusivity, can take a multitude of forms; it might also be seen as ‘multi-perspectival’. Not every course is able to accommodate subject-driven multi-disciplinarity; however, via work around Your Future Plan and Education for Sustainability, for instance, every student should have the opportunity to think outside the strict parameters of their course, in order to prepare for a future that may take them in unexpected directions.
– Building on our Learning Design Programme, we will institute an Education Design Programme to:
– We will implement the Portfolio Diversification Programme recommendations, including developing the support needed to deliver professional short courses, online-by-design provision, and L4/5 qualifications.
– We will make the learning experience inclusive for all, including by applying the Decolonising the Curriculum Framework and ensuring the thematic ambitions are reflected in the curriculum.
– We will continue to develop our Education for Sustainability Programme, increasing its integration into our curriculum and in the overall student experience.
– We will develop and apply learning analytics so that we may understand fully our students’ engagement with their learning, and ensure they have the learning and personal support they need in order to engage and flourish.
– We will explore how to flex courses so that multi-disciplinarity, or multiple perspectives, can be achieved.
a. A flexible, adaptable student is able to meet unexpected challenges, whether in their course or outside of it. They are global citizens, ready for the complexities of a globalised world, well-equipped to address issues of social and economic importance for their own and their world’s improvement. They see change as an opportunity for growth. They ask questions, with well-developed powers of critical analysis, and work together to develop answers. They are less apt to be derailed by adversity. Our University structure supports them in this personal growth, no matter their starting point.
b. Being professionalised means being able to see oneself as employable, including in self-employment. This draws not only on subject knowledge but also the capacity to convey knowledge and readiness; in other words, the skills to translate their knowledge into the right language to achieve professional outcomes. An enterprising student actively seeks this out and understands the part they play in managing their path to their own future, inculcating a sense of their capacity to influence and lead. We will support them in this personal growth as well as their subject-based learning.
c. And therefore our students are ready and eager to show ambition and drive. They take responsibility for their part in their overall University experience.
d. By being active agents in their own learning, they also develop the qualities that allow them to work actively in an inclusive learning environment, contributing productively and interested in co-creating an effective and appropriate pedagogy.
e. The digital is incorporated into their learning so that it becomes a key element of that learning. Students are comfortable with and within the digital, whether it is informing their learning environment, providing that environment, or scaffolding it. They understand how, when, and why to use their digital knowledge to advance their learning and contribute to the other attributes suggested by this Goal.
– We will ensure that all students at all levels are supported by Your Future Plan (YFP), in developing their career plan, gaining some work experience, and reflecting on their employability; and all Schools will continue to agree their Student Employability Outcomes plan with YFP.
– We will involve students in our Education Design Programme and in particular in achieving digital literacy, and explore means of accrediting this.
– We will enhance the relationship with the Students’ Union and the student community as a whole to amplify the student voice.
– We will work with our student body to continue to improve our feedback mechanisms so that students understand how to improve and achieve their best outcomes.
– We will foster confidence, resilience and independence in our students, and aim to inculcate a sense of global responsibility. We will do this by actively championing, and embedding in our curricular development, co-creation, inclusivity, and Education for Sustainability, as well as initiatives arising from our global partnerships.
a. Adept and agile staff are able to meet challenges and see the possibilities for opportunity. They approach the unexpected as providing a chance for renewal. Our University processes should enable both initiative and rapid response. Our Training and Development Framework will, among other things, ensure that risk aversion does not inhibit creativity.
b. This contributes to making a virtue of flexibility. It includes recognising when activities no longer provide value, or when praxis must adapt in light of changing expectations, requirements, or pressures. Our University support structures will enable staff to identify and address this, and ensure that cessation of activity is seamless.
c. Ambitious staff actively work towards the goals of the University and see themselves as elemental in achieving them, no matter what area they work in. There will be different levels of ambition, and University processes will recognise this and provide arenas in which staff can learn from each other and grow. University processes will not place barriers in the way of individual and collective ambition, and will facilitate ambition. Ambitious staff will energise each other, and also become role models for students.
d. Adept, agile, flexible and ambitious staff are empowered and thereby hold themselves accountable in leading change. They can be positive disruptors with collective high standards. Our University values this as an institutional strength that contributes to quality and excellence.
e. And such staff recognise the value of developing their own skills so that they can develop the skills of others; hence, staff are digitally fluent, and our University processes and procedures will support and enable this.
– We will develop an Innovation Academy for academic and teaching support staff to experiment with and develop their praxis, and will align this with existing support for innovation such as Learning Innovation for Tomorrow (LIFT) and University Teaching Fellowships.
– We will actively engage a wide pool of staff from Schools and Professional Services to be involved in the Education Design Programme, and make best use of staff expertise and capacity in developing multi-disciplinarity, or multiple perspectives, wherever this can be achieved.
– We will support all staff in being ready for new initiatives related to, for example, Lifelong Loan Entitlement and the Portfolio Diversification Programme outcomes; becoming digitally fluent; being fully ready for, and invested in, Technology Enhanced Learning.
– We will continue to support staff to achieve professional qualifications and recognition, through the UKPSF, PGCAP/APA, and the PhD/professional doctorate where appropriate.
– We will engage with staff to understand their support and wellbeing needs, and provide for this.
a. Research-rich is a primary goal of our Research Strategy, where it is defined as a ‘culture in which research is valued as a core purpose of the University, all teaching and learning is enriched through research, and all staff and students have opportunities to engage with high-quality research which creates benefit, impact and enhanced professional practice’.
b. Innovative teaching draws not only on pedagogical creativity and the enthusiasm of teachers, but also on the knowledge of the field that is represented by being ‘research-informed’. Staff should be able to incorporate into their teaching their understanding of the research in their field. Those staff who are research-active are also able to underpin their teaching with their own research activity, including pedagogic, and to support the knowledge development of their colleagues.
c. In line with the University Strategic Plan, research richness is also encouraged through an enterprising spirit of enquiry and an active desire to seek out, and to create, knowledge. Higher Education is distinguished by this spirit, and our students benefit individually and as a whole community from staff with an interest in, and capacity for, research or scholarship.
d. Therefore, the knowledge that is shared within the University must be regularly refreshed and renewed by our staff retaining a familiarity with the research that informs their subject, whether or not they are actively researching themselves. In this way, our University remains able to support the highest quality educational experience for our students, at all levels.
e. In keeping with our commitment to a professional and professionalising education at all levels, our student researchers will be provided with supervision that encourages their own innovation, enterprise, and currency. In particular, we view the professional doctorate as key in reflecting our institutional drive towards the work-readiness of all of our graduates.
f. Our students will therefore learn in an environment that rewards research, and will be afforded opportunities to undertake research, both practical and theoretical, to strengthen their own learning experience.
– We will continue to develop a research-rich culture that leads to research-informed teaching of the highest quality, and will continue to refine staff progression opportunities that highlight pedagogical research and development.
– We will continue to develop our support systems so that our research-active staff may pursue excellent research with measurable outputs.
– We will pursue activities that offer our research students opportunities for career-enhancing work experiences, including teaching where possible.
– We will prioritise the continued development of the professional doctorate in all relevant areas within the University.
– In line with Goal 2, we will continue to build in principles of enquiry to our courses, so that by participating in research-based activities, students will gain a fuller understanding of innovation and improvement and be able to link this to their own professional identity.
a. Academic partnerships promote the excellence of the University’s courses, offer new opportunities for high-quality education for students not otherwise able to enrol directly at the University, and enhance our reputation, both globally and in the UK.
b. Employer and industry partnerships allow us to provide an education that reflects the professionalised requirements and expectations our graduates will find when they enter the world of work, and makes them ready for this. Moreover, they support our ambition to undertake research that makes a practical difference, which in turn continuously strengthens our teaching.
c. Through our franchise and validation agreements, our academic portfolio and academic oversight activities increase our scope of influence across key types of institution and key parts of the world. We have several relationships with Further Education (FE) providers in the region, some important partnerships with UK-based private providers, and Transnational Education provision with Higher Education providers internationally. We are now ready to raise our expectations in terms of our partners, and to mature our collaboration with FE.
d. As we develop our City Campus, we will see new opportunities for engaging with our region for mutual benefit and support.
e. We are still a young University, and are now poised to increase our influence and raise our reputation beyond our immediate environs. Our academic partnerships are key to this.
– We will review our portfolio of partners to ensure that each brings with it assured quality as well as financial sustainability, and will be prepared to end partnerships that do not provide this.
– We will select a small group of preferred academic partners, both in the UK and internationally, and create strategic relationships for our mutual benefit.
– We will explore ways in which our campus-based students might participate in our partnerships, and vice versa, to contribute to and deepen their professional development and global awareness.
– We will explore ways in which exchanges and development opportunities can be enabled for both staff and students, making best use of digital environments, to encourage a more globalised experience across our partnerships.
– We will develop strategic and industry partnerships that support student enterprise and professionalism, and grow our research capacity.
– We will engage with employers and industry partners in the design and delivery of our courses, so that our students are professionalised and able to contribute to the economic success of our wider community.
a. We must ensure that our growth is achieved without sacrificing excellence — which means that quality must underpin all of our activities, whether recruitment, portfolio development, or collaborations.
b. Quality is best assured when not only are there robust systems and processes in place, but also when the people who devise, develop, and use them are trained and confident to do so, with accountability.
c. The University’s entire activity depends on reliable, resilient, strong, and recoverable systems and processes. Whether digital, regulatory, assurance- or enhancement-based, or drawing on the expertise and commitment of colleagues, such systems and processes require regular review and cross-integration.
d. We must be able to identify quality and compliance issues early and have at the ready plans to address these, in every part of the University.
e. To that end, and to ensure that delivering our Education Strategy rests on the strongest possible base, we require robust, accessible, and fit-for-purpose systems and structures for assuring and improving quality and standards.
– We will conduct a review of all metrics associated with Office for Students, Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Ofsted, and other external regimes so that necessary modifications can be built into our assurance systems.
– We will develop and agree an Ofsted oversight structure to instil confidence in our practices and compliance processes, and allow us to achieve at least Good in all areas.
– We will continue to develop and refine the Improvement and Enhancement process in Schools to enable our assessment and teaching practices to be based on the highest standards and offer the highest quality experience while neither over-assessing nor over-teaching.
– We will continue to apply the Improvement and Enhancement process to our Professional Services, so that quality, standards, and compliance requirements are joined seamlessly with School activities.
– We will develop and review our quality assurance mechanisms, including our validation and modifications process, the Course Portal, the Course Enhancement Review (CER) process, the external School review cycle, the dashboard for the School Improvement and Enhancement meetings, and other areas of monitoring to ensure they are accessible, reliable, and adaptable as circumstances require.
26. We will measure our progress and success in delivery of this Education Strategy using these indicators:
|NSS: teaching on my course
|Sector 2022 +1%
|NSS: assessment and feedback
|Sector 2022 +3%
|NSS: academic support
|Sector 2022 +1%
|NSS: learning resources
|Sector 2022 +2%
|PTES (or equivalent): overall satisfaction
|Sector 2022 +1%
|PTES: teaching on my course
|Sector 2022 +1%
|Sector 2022 +1%
|PTES: assessment and feedback
|Sector 2022 +2%
|Engagement & Attendance
|Attendance capture uptake
|Attendance – % of students registered
|PT meetings scheduled/attended
|GO: highly skilled employment or further study
|>71% / Upper middle quartile
|GO: employment or further study
|>96% / Top quartile
|Opportunity for work experience on every course
|Non-completion of year (all students)
|Continuation into 2nd year
|Achieved intended award
|Socio-economic: reduce the gap between IMD Q1 and Q5
|Ethnicity: for 18-yr-old entrants from a UK domicile, increase the BAME proportion
|Innovation & Research
|Value of research contracts won
|15% growth on prior year
|PGR student recruitment
|15% growth in registered PGR students
|Staff with a teaching qualification