The Shaping Futures update from the July 2017 Leadership Bulletin
Shaping Futures – Christina Hughes
For this edition of the Bulletin, I’ve asked my colleagues Simon Bromley, Becca Khanna and Jacqueline Stevenson to write an update
The University Strategy is more than words and must ‘be lived’ for us to be a successful institution. As a key pillar of the Strategy, ‘Shaping Futures’ is in the business of shaping the futures of, and with, students. This intent started in earnest this month with each Shaping Futures theme having an identified partnership or set of co-sponsor colleagues leading it. With an institution wide remit, we are the co-sponsors for
- Inclusive Student Experience (Jacqueline Stevenson with Graham Holden)
- Employability (Simon Bromley with Conor Moss)
- Retention (Becca Khanna with Neil McKay)
To develop plans in this area further, the Shaping Futures Board had a not-very-far-away day (Novotel Hotel!) to really get to grips with what we need to do to support our students in these areas. We discussed the challenges and dangers of metric driven environments and the opportunities that the strategy provides to give a concerted focus to core areas where we can make improvements. We cheered when we heard we had received Silver in the TEF, recognising though that there is more to be done to achieve the step-change we are seeking.
In terms of the specific areas of our responsibility, our thoughts are as follows:
A key priority for our student inclusivity activity will be to support staff from across the institution to develop projects which begin to address the BME-white attainment gap, that is the difference in degree outcome between white students and their Black and minority ethnic peers. There is a persistent and entrenched gap across the sector, including at SHU, and we are committed to reducing, minimising and then eradicating the gap. All staff will have a role to play here and we will draw on expertise and best practice from across the University and beyond.
In terms of employability, outside a few professional and allied subjects our performance on professional and managerial employment for our graduates – as measured by the DLHE – is not where we would like it to be. Over the last year, but particularly over the past several months, we have been reviewing our work to date and developing new plans which will be forthcoming very soon. These will include targeted support to recently graduated students over the next 6-7 months to help as many students as possible gain graduate jobs. The second phase is an enhanced employability and careers offer for all students, as well as plans for closer working between subjects/departments and the Directorate for Employer and Educational Partnerships (DEEP).
On the retention front we aim to adopt both focused interventions with specific course teams and projects that will benefit all our students. Key to the approach is a focus on learning from experience both in the sector and from within SHU itself, securing a clear understanding about the impact of different interventions. Building and maintaining student commitment to their course is also a fundamental concept to be explored and developed across the student lifecycle. What is apparent is the need to renew ownership by all staff in refocusing their attention on student retention, progression and success and the implications of us not doing so.
Energy is now being placed into working up extended plans with associated business cases to deliver. Over the next few months co-sponsors will, via the Shaping Futures pillar information hub, communicate a range of activities which we all need to commit to through prioritisation and by getting involved. In the meantime, if you want to discuss any of this work further do contact us.
Excerpt from the July 2017 Leadership Bulletin