Leadership Bulletin – February 2018

Introduction by Professor John Leach, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Staffing and Equalities and the Faculty of Development and Society and an update from each of the board chairs.


Introduction: Professor John Leach, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Staffing and Equalities and the Faculty of Development and Society

We will know that our Transforming Lives strategy has been successful when Sheffield Hallam University is the world’s leading applied university.

Imagine that university now: what kind of a curriculum will it offer, what kinds of students will it have, what models of learning will be supported, what estate will have been built to support our activities, what kinds of staff will be employed, with what kinds of expertise, undertaking what learning, teaching, research, innovation, support, other activities?  While I’m sure that people will come up with different answers to these questions, I think there will be a high degree of consensus about some fundamentals.  One is that the world’s leading applied university will have a really impressive group of students and staff.  They will have certain things in common, including talent, values and ambition.

And because talent, values and ambition are not located in any single community, our staff and students will be diverse.

I was delighted to be asked by the Vice-Chancellor to take the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Staffing and Equalities in September 2016.  My first priority was to put in place a set of actions to make the University a truly inclusive, diverse place where equality is the norm.  Those who know me will appreciate that a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion is part of who I am.  Growing up in a (relatively) comfortable environment as a white male, I never particularly had to confront discrimination directed towards me.  As a schoolteacher working in mixed, diverse state schools serving less affluent populations, however, I certainly saw inequality at first hand.  I got my first sense of how it feels to be personally involved rather than observing when I became disabled just before joining Hallam.  Although my experiences have been mainly positive, I’ve certainly now got some insight into the things that are part of the day-to-day reality for so many people who are treated in the way that they are because of their perceived membership of a group rather than their personal attributes.

Earlier this week, we launched our Equality Objectives:

1.    To bring about a step-change in race equality

2.    To continue to eradicate gender differentials

3.    To ensure an inclusive, accessible and open work and learning environment

In spite of our very best intentions, frankly, examination of the data shows that  Hallam is not doing well around race.  Fewer of our students come from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds than would be expected from the population of our region – and BAME students who are with us do less well than their non-BAME peers on degree class, securing work placements and graduate/managerial jobs (after prior attainment is taken into account).  Things don’t look better on staff: we have fewer BAME staff than would be expected given the populations from which we recruit, and BAME colleagues tend to be in lower-graded roles.  BAME people do apply for jobs at Hallam – but are less likely than their non-BAME peers to get shortlisted or appointed.

The second objective relates to gender.  By comparison with race, we are doing much better around gender.  Trajectories are moving in the right direction – but much remains to be done.

The third objective is about our overall environment.  Promoting an inclusive environment cuts across all aspects of life and work at  Hallam, and addresses how we make everyone feel that they can be part of the  Hallam community and benefit from the University.

We have already initiated work to address these three objectives.  We submitted a programme of institutional work around gender equality for consideration by the Equality Challenge Unit for an institutional Athena SWAN bronze charter mark.  Our action plan is clear: when we resubmit in 2020 we’ll be going for silver.  All parts of the institution will be asked to commit to actions to achieve gender equality.  We are also committed to a programme of work to achieve the Race Equality Charter Mark in 3 years – cutting across the recruitment, experience and success of both staff and students.  The campuses will better reflect our inclusivity as more diversity will shine through our wall displays, as well as our websites and social media presence.  I personally feel uplifted seeing so many colleagues wearing rainbow lanyards and pins – a small symbol of solidarity with LGBT+ members of the Hallam community based on a heartfelt desire to support improvements through action.

We live in exciting times: watch this space.


Building a Great UniversityRichard Calvert

Over the next few days and weeks, we will be sharing our campus masterplan with staff. I’m taking the chance in this edition of the bulletin to focus on that.

Our buildings and facilities matter to all of us, whether we are students, staff, or visitors to the University. We’ve got some great facilities already, but we also know that our estate is under pressure, and that we need to improve quality and flexibility in many areas.

The new campus masterplan starts to paint a picture of our future estate, setting out how we will provide a consistent and high quality student, staff and visitor experience, and the principles which should underpin this. It also enables us to look not only at how we can support the new opportunities for business growth, but also how we can address current pressures, challenges, and constraints.

The Masterplan has been developed to ensure our buildings, facilities and spaces support our ambition to be the world’s leading applied university – providing flexibility and variety to the different teaching, learning, researching and working needs now and for the future.

So what does the plan involve? In the long term, the Masterplan offers a vision of consolidating on a single city centre campus – though not before the late 2030s – and this is something that we will keep under review. However, that’s a long-term vision, and for most of us we’ll be much more focussed on what happens over the next five years or so.

To deliver the plan, we will need to create new buildings, undertake improvement works to existing buildings, demolish some others and create new public realm at the new Campus Heart which will cross Howard Street.  We will also need to continue to maintain and manage the condition of our current buildings – not least at Collegiate where we know we face particular pressures – and proposals for this have been included in the long term plans.

The plans are ambitious and we cannot do everything at once, so the proposals are broken down into key phases.

The key proposals for the first phase of works – over the next five years – include the development of a new Business School on the site of the current Science Park buildings, the development of a new Social Sciences building on the site of the Science Park car park, and the demolition of Surrey and Howard buildings to create space for the next phase of development.

The creation of a new Social Sciences building will enable PSP to relocate from Collegiate to City, enabling Heart of the Campus to be devoted to Health and Wellbeing.

For more information, visit the new Estates website which is available here: Future Spaces website

You can subscribe to the site for notifications and updates and visit the new interactive map of our ongoing and active projects.

Development planning is currently underway for the first phase, which includes looking at options for alternative accommodation for the people currently located in the Science Park and working with SBS and D&S to understand requirements for the new developments.

Internal approval of the first phase of works is expected in March 2018.

Alongside this, we know that our estate cannot stand still over the next five years whilst we focus on the new developments, and we will continue to work with Faculties and Professional Services to review annual rounds of minor works needed to address priority condition and urgent new business needs.

We do however need to ensure we are focussed on our priorities, and as part of this we need to look differently at how we manage the space we currently have to ensure we are using it as efficiently as possible, and that we are not spending money on works that only fix short term problems.

A new Space Management Group will provide a cross-university forum for identifying where space could be better used and looking at how quick changes in usage can enable new opportunities to be implemented at minimal cost. This should enable us to address emerging pressures more quickly and gain a better understanding of the needs and uses of space across our Estate.

The vision and principles give us a clear approach to investment in our estate, and will shape our planning and the choices we need to make.

I hope you will be excited by the vision and the opportunities it brings. While we will all need to show some patience and understanding along the way, there’s a real prize in building an estate which is truly fit for the future, and which matches our ambitions as a university. I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Aside from the Masterplan, this is also a critical period for the PSOM work; you can attend one of several open staff briefings on the future shape and direction of professional services, which are taking place from 27 February – 2 March.

I’ll update on other work on the Building a Great University agenda in the next bulletin.

For further updates on the Building a Great University pillar, visit the pillar information hub.


Shaping Futures – Professor Christina Hughes

I recently had the great pleasure of providing an update on the Shaping Futures agenda at the Transforming Lives strategy sessions for all colleagues. Your questions, and emails afterwards, showed me how much you would welcome more detail on what we are doing.  One area of particular interest was that of employability.

Employability remains a high area of focus for us as we still have a way to go to realise our TEF benchmarked metrics. And, reinforcing the importance of our recently launched Equalities Objectives, when it comes to disadvantaged groups, we find that both BAME and disabled students perform worse against benchmark than white and non-disabled students respectively. Additionally, full-time male students have a poorer outcome than females, although the opposite is true for part-time students.  Whilst there is a clear story of improvement over time, the indicator for highly skilled employment or further study is the area that requires most urgent attention.

We have therefore developed the Employability Plan that you can find here. This is a comprehensive approach that includes targeted support with departments and with specific groups of students.  One example is the Graduate Support Programme which has placed 99 graduates into internship roles during January. Simon Thompson and colleagues in Careers and Employability will also place a further 53 Level 6 students into internships during March and are looking at a further 200 internships during April and May. They will also shortly be launching the 2018 Graduate Support Programme  that, if last year is anything to go by, will be contacting 2000+ students with an offer of 1-1 intensive support and coaching, fortnightly boot camps and a Gradcon careers fair. To support the academic development of employability we have also appointed two Academic Directors: Esther Kent, Sports Business Management and Paul Heys, Graphic Design and Art.

There are three further areas to particularly update you with. First, the Hallam Guild is on its way! We have appointed David Kyffin (Faculty of Development and Society) as the Guild’s new Head of Operations and Development. On the priority list is to progress a membership policy and infrastructure for the small amounts of funding we have. We will formally launch the Guild in Autumn 2018.

It is also crucial that we enhance how we are communicating with, and listening to, our students and simultaneously supporting you in those communications. We want our students to hear much more about the richness and diversity of university life and for them to share in the achievements of our staff and our students.  We also want to create new ways to have dialogue with our students that builds on digital communication channels. We have appointed Ailsa Hogg (Marketing) as Acting Head of Student Communications who will be working closely with me on shaping this agenda.

Finally, I am really pleased to say we launched the ACHIEVE website in January. We also have an ACHIEVE twitter feed @ACHIEVE_HallamDo follow and, more importantly, contribute.

And as always, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, get in touch with me.  I always like to hear from you.

For further updates on the Shaping Futures pillar, visit the pillar information hub.


Creating KnowledgeProfessor Roger Eccleston

Transforming Lives sets clear ambitions for developing our research and knowledge exchange (KE) activities.  Our aspiration to be the ‘leading applied university’ sets some clear objectives.   To be leading, our research and KE should be world class in our chosen areas of expertise and our research performance in key measures (income, research power, GPA, REF performance) leading amongst our competitor set.   To be leading and applied it must also demonstrably deliver social, economic and cultural impact and to do so better and more innovatively than our competitors.

Together with the Assistant Deans for Research, the Director of the Research & Innovation Office, the Director of the Doctoral School and other colleagues, I have been drafting a Creating Knowledge Implementation Plan (CKIP) intended to deliver our strategic objectives.  The CKIP has been reviewed by the Creating Knowledge Pillar Board and the University Leadership Team.   Over the next few weeks I will be consulting faculty leadership teams and faculty creating knowledge boards and sharing the CKIP more broadly at Transforming Lives sessions and dedicated staff meetings.

This CKIP focusses on the following six goals.

1.            Establish 3-5 research platforms

2.            Build a strong research and knowledge exchange culture

3.            Increase research and KE income

4.            Deliver economic, social and cultural impact

5.            Ensure research enriches student learning and translation into practice

6.            Achieve an excellent result for REF2021 & KEF

We have excellent research and KE across the University.  The proposed research platforms will build upon our areas of excellence to establish foci for research and KE in which we are, or have the potential to be, world-class.  The platforms will not be an alternative to research groups, centres or institutes and will not be new organisational structures.  They will provide fora for conversations that link disciplines and encourage collaboration and give our research a clear external profile; they will put us in a strong position to address funding opportunities at scale and join (and, where appropriate, lead) consortia.  They should be visible to, understood by and broadly owned by staff and students and act as a framework on which to encourage and develop a strong institutional research culture and the development of research and scholarly activity in staff.

As I share the CKIP over the next few weeks, I will say more about the characteristics of and criteria for the research platforms and how they will be identified.

For further updates on the Creating Knowledge pillar, visit the pillar information hub.


Leading Locally and Engaging GloballyProfessor Chris Husbands

For this edition of the Bulletin, I have asked Conor Moss, Director of Education & Employer Partnerships, to provide an update on Higher and Degree Apprenticeships, which are one of our immediate priorities under the LLEG agenda:

It is almost 3 years since Hallam responded to the government’s call for Universities and other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to deliver Higher and Degree Apprenticeships (HDAs); needless to say it has been extremely hard work and, without wishing to sound like an X Factor contestant, it’s been a journey!

While we were one of just 20 HEIs to respond in 2015, there are now nearly 100 HEIs registered to deliver HDAs, with the number of apprentices registered at Level 4 and above up 37% in January 2018. Transforming Lives cemented our commitment to being the business-ready university and the leading provider of Degree Apprenticeships in England. We now have approximately 400 apprentices enrolled, with significant growth planned throughout 2018 and 2019.

The government’s ambitions for a “More Prosperous Nation” are partly founded on “a highly skilled workforce, with employers in the driving seat.” So, as part of our ambitions, we are working with UK organisations to develop high-quality degree apprenticeship provision that meets the needs of employers.

We have placed regional economic growth and social mobility at the heart of our plan. We have invested in our extensive degree apprenticeship portfolio and will open dedicated teaching space at Aspect Court and a digital suite in Cantor in September 2018.

The dedicated space will allow us to build on our existing portfolio of leadership, management, digital and IT, engineering, healthcare, food technology, construction and chartered surveying. We are also anticipating further growth across health, law and education.

This approach has driven a rich and diverse portfolio with bespoke delivery models and collaborative approaches to suit large and SME employers; in total we now have over 100 new employer relationships.

I am most proud of the work we are doing with schools and colleges, where we are providing insights on HDAs to school leavers and then matching them with employers. It is fascinating to talk to school leavers, from all backgrounds, who know they want to be an engineer or quantity surveyor and hold full-time conditional offers from various institutions whilst seeking a suitable degree apprenticeship. At Hallam, we are well placed to offer both routes to those professions, and it’s imperative that we continue to lead the sector and position ourselves as the leading institution for Degree Apprenticeships with employers locally and nationally.

There is no doubt that there is more hard work ahead but the journey should continue to be interesting and fun!

For further updates on the Leading Locally and Engaging Globally pillar, visit the pillar information hub.


The VC’s Blog – Keep up-to-date with the latest posts at: https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/vc/


If you have any queries concerning the Leadership Bulletin, you can contact either Sara Kouchakji-Allen or Michael Clark.

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