Leadership Bulletin – July 2018

Introduction by Deborah Harry, Chief Finance and Planning Officer and an update from the strategy pillars.

As we close another busy and productive year, we have been planning for next year and the years beyond. Careful financial planning underpins the future success of the institution especially when the financial environment is challenging.

Some of these challenges are

  • Regulation and political environment – Office for Students (replacement for HEFCE), has adopted a different style of regulation.  The sector has a new Minister and there is a major review of Post 18 Education which will report in 2019.
  • Demographic dip – The number of full time undergraduates is expected to drop over the next three years due to a demographic dip in the number of students going to University nationally and competition will become even fiercer.
  • Inflation – It is likely that the headline Undergraduate fee will remain capped at £9,250 through to 2019/20 entry at least.  Since the £9000 fee was introduced in 2012, it has been increased only once, in 2017 to £9250.

In the meantime, University costs continue to rise, and without corrective action the small deficit planned for 2018/19 could quickly grow to be a substantial deficit.

So what are we doing about it?

Our Transforming Lives strategy identifies priorities to help us meet the financial challenges ahead.

We need to

  • ensure that our offer to students is the best that it can be
  • look at new markets, developing educational and other products that we can offer to business and commercial markets
  •  ensure that our resources are as efficient as they can be
  • minimise discretionary costs and increase fairness by scrutinising what we spend money on.  Policies have been developed to support this and will be shared shortly.

Importantly, we mustn’t lose faith or capacity over the next few years which we know are going to be difficult for student numbers, because by 2020 numbers will grow again. We need to invest in our estate and our portfolio now to be ready to take advantage of the upturn.

At the Transforming Lives events in July, I outlined the approach to our future financial stability in more detail. The presentation is available on the Transforming Lives website.

Shaping Futures

Professor Christina Hughes

For this issue of the Leadership Bulletin, I’ve asked Professor Jacqueline Stevenson to give an update on the work she is leading on BME attainment:

Shaping Futures Board has been reviewing the outcomes from a number of our institution wide projects that were initiated this year (see how we are rethinking the student experience at ACHIEVE) and at our last meeting approved the next stage of our BME attainment gap work. You will know that analysis of the University’s overall data shows that the difference in attainment of good honours amongst Black and Minority (BME) students is 18.3%.  It has been good to see this improve this year and we want to build on this given our mission is to transform all our students lives.

In response to this priority, the Shaping Futures Board approved a pilot programme of work in 2017/18. This engaged all academic departments, who implemented and evaluated one or more projects they had designed to reduce the BME-white attainment gap. We have to thank you all for your commitment to this as this has been amazing. 31 initiatives have been delivered alongside four new research projects. Tempted to say here, that’s the #HallamDifference!

We have now agreed a new plan for scaling up awareness, commitment, and activities and to provide a more robust infrastructure to support this activity. This comprises four institutional initiatives to be delivered across the University – a mentoring programme for BME students; a Hallam-wide writing programme; a Hallam-wide ‘decolonising the curriculum’ initiative; and work supporting good practice in placements. In addition there will be more training and advice for staff and students, further departmental interventions, and significantly more engagement with students. This work will be closely aligned to the University’s Race Equality Charter work as well as to the work of other key groups.  It is being supported by strategic funding as well as the OFFA-accountable monies which faculties receive through the normal finance processes.

We will be communicating more on the work that has happened this year, together with the support available to faculties, departments, staff and students over the summer so that we are ready to support the implementation of next year’s plan from September.

If you are interested in this work and want any further information, please contact me.

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson jacqueline.stevenson@shu.ac.uk

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

Creating Knowledge

Professor Roger Eccleston

I, for one, found the Creating Knowledge Conference, that took place on 18 June, to be an encouraging and inspiring event. The doctoral students who were the finalists of the 3 minute thesis competition got the event off to a dynamic start, displaying great flare, competence and tenacity in delivering excellent presentations.  The sessions I attended thereafter were remarkable in terms of the breadth, quality and relevance of the work presented.  I felt proud of the positive impact SHU research makes on the lives of people in the UK and across the globe addressing challenges including issues of justice, equality and social inclusion, lives affected by conflict, environmental issues, wellbeing, food security, educational health… the list goes on.

What was fascinating was seeing these issues addressed from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and the way in which they provided new insights.  I learnt a great deal from the presentations and by the end of the day I was more convinced than ever of the opportunities we have to link disciplines to enhance the impact of our research.  There are clear resonances between research themes, some of which were identified at the conference and led to discussions about potential collaborations.  In the next few weeks we will be opening bids for small funds to help initiate and support inter-disciplinary work to build on the momentum generated at the conference.

Once approved by the CK Board, we will be also publishing The Creating Knowledge Prospectus which will provide details of a range of initiatives to support research and innovation and the delivery of the Creating Knowledge Implementation Plan.

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

Leading Locally and Engaging Globally

Professor Sir Chris Husbands

The Sheffield City Region (SCR) now has an elected Mayor (Dan Jarvis, currently MP for Barnsley Central), which means that the first stage of the devolution deal is in place.  Once the devolution process is complete, the Mayor will have a budget of £30m per year for thirty years and therefore will have a key role in the economic, political and social future of the four local authorities which make up the region. Dan is a good friend of the university; he has visited four times in the past year and has spoken warmly of our work.  The immediate objective is to work with Dan to shape his policy objectives, via two main vehicles:  the residual work of the SCR vision group which drew together the two universities and the teaching hospital; and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The Secretary of State for Education has now approved the application for a new University Technical College (UTC) in Doncaster.  UTCs are 14-18 schools with a strongly vocational focus. The University is a board member for the two UTCs in Sheffield and we will play a strong role in the development of the Doncaster UTC as well.

I continue to chair the Doncaster Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board as a Secretary of State appointment.  OAs are vehicles for significant government investment in educational improvement in areas of severe underperformance.  The university’s engagement with Doncaster is strategically important: extending our reach out of the city and working as a broker for improvement working with partners across the school/FE agenda.

The UPP Foundation has established a Civic University Commission.  The commission is intended to pose questions about how universities can best serve their civic role.  The chair is Lord Kerslake, the chair of the Hallam Board of Governors.  Senior civil servants have been clear that they think that this Commission is very important at a time when universities are seeking to articulate their benefit to the wider community more clearly.  The Commission is receiving written submissions from universities and interested parties, and held one of their three oral evidence sessions at Sheffield Hallam on Friday 29 June.

By driving improvements in the educational health of the region as well as strengthening our regional leadership role, key aims of the Leading Locally, Engaging Globally Board, Sheffield Hallam is now positioned very strongly with ministers as a University serious about engaging with education policy and developing benefits for our community.

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

Building a Great University

Richard Calvert

At this time of year, much of our focus is on preparing for confirmation and clearing. As ever it’s a real team effort across the University, and as we move into an increasingly competitive environment, it’s one that really matters. We’re doing some new things this year in the run-up to clearing, particularly on the marketing side; but also maintaining some of the tried-and-tested approaches to the day itself. We’ve also been working on different aspects of the start of year preparations. It’s been great to see the progress made on timetabling this year; many thanks both to Ashley Hopps and his team, and also to colleagues in Faculties and Departments for their collaborative approach.

Elsewhere, work is now underway with our technology partner Crimson on design and implementation of the new CRM system, and we’re also working on a refresh of SHUSpace for the start of year. We’re moving in the Autumn into the remaining PSOM design areas – including Facilities and Estates, Finance, HR and DTS. And we’re also working on the financing of the new Estates Masterplan, as well as awaiting final proposals from developers for the Sheaf Tower.

Finally, many thanks to all involved in organising the installation of our new Chancellor, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, last week. It was a great occasion, summing up all that is best about Hallam; and we look forward to working with Helena, as well as to staying in touch with her predecessor, Professor the Lord Winston, who has served us so well as Chancellor over the last 17 years.

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

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