Vision 2012 – 2017
As a university we value: the highest academic and professional
standards, social, cultural and economic obligation, environmental
sustainability, diversity, equality of opportunity, integrity and
leadership. We value sound financial management as a means of securing our
academic activity and taking control of our own destiny. At Essex, research,
teaching and knowledge exchange enjoy parity of esteem.
Purpose and mission
The purpose of the University is to extend and deepen the fund of human
knowledge and pass the benefits on to others.
Our mission is to be a globally competitive, research-intensive,
student-focused university that takes seriously its economic, social and
cultural responsibilities to our region, the UK and the world.
By 2017 Essex will be acknowledged as a powerful international university
with global impact and a world reputation that is unparalleled for a
university of our size. We will expand our science base whilst building on
our pre-eminence in social science and strengths in the humanities. The
University will continue to develop its UK campuses which will include a
thriving London site specialising in international pathway programmes and
executive-level business studies. We will be advantageously placed in the
world top 200 universities as defined by the Times Higher Education listings
and in the top 25 in the Times UK league table.
Our Global Alliance
(consisting of multilateral relations with a small
number of selected universities from around the world) will be well
established and will be delivering benefits in research and teaching as well
as shared marketing and profiling opportunities. There will be an academic
focus on global challenges through which the University will focus its
research resources. Our students will have international experience that
will improve their achievement, employability and overall educational
We will continue to fulfill our economic, social and cultural
responsibilities to Essex and the broader region that we serve. We will
continue to meet government aspirations on widening participation and
employer engagement with a rigorous focus on academic standards. We will
develop our environmental sustainability and meet our obligations on carbon
We will focus on the highest quality of research as
defined by the Research Excellence Framework. We will expand the range and
volume of research activity and competitive research grants and contracts,
particularly in science. We will continue to develop an interdisciplinary
University-wide Global Challenges initiative
that will strategically focus
the University’s research capacity on up to five major problems facing the
world whilst continuing to encourage curiosity-driven, discipline-based
Teaching and learning
We will respond to the changing higher education
environment by recruiting the best qualified students and giving them a
learning and social experience that will benefit them for life. As well as
degree level knowledge and understanding, the Essex graduate will have the
skills, experience and confidence necessary to face the challenges of a
complex and dynamic employment environment. We are committed to
research-led teaching with a focus on the highest academic standards, on
student mobility and on employability.
Knowledge and exchange
Through knowledge exchange (KE) we will help to ensure our financial
sustainability and our social, economic and cultural impact on the wider
world. The establishment of the Knowledge Gateway will support this
activity, and KE will become recognised as a key element in academic life,
ranking alongside research and teaching.
The Faculty of Humanities and Comparative Studies will apply critical
thinking to human endeavour and the creative arts across traditional subject
boundaries through its research-intensive departments. It is also a focus
for professional practice in Acting, for language and pathway programmes,
and for interdisciplinarity.
The Faculty of Law and Management will remain committed to
developing professional leaders of the
future within an international environment of innovative scholarship that
creates value, generates enterprise, fosters responsibility and contributes
to social justice.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering will undertake
fundamental science to benefit people and the planet. Five schools and
departments contribute to its internationally-renowned, research-intensive,
student-focused activities that deliver research-led teaching and
professional training to benefit its students and wider society.
The Faculty of Social Sciences will remain one of Europe's leading centres for
theory-driven empirical research in the social sciences, renowned for its
scholarly work, its teaching, its engagement with public debates and
agendas, and its extensive training and data resources.
Financial and investment strategy
To achieve our ambitions over a five-year period we will need to grow our
income by 30 per cent and increase the financial margin on our continuing
operations. In order to thrive in a more competitive environment and to
continue our investment in facilities, research and staffing, the University
will aim to generate a cash surplus equating to 5.5 per cent of total
University income from 2014-15 onwards. We will transform the contribution
from philanthropic sources, aiming to achieve a reliable income of £2.5m per
annum by the end of the planning period.
Our investment priorities will be in:
- student facilities to enhance the learning and life experience of our students
- recruiting the best quality research staff (100 over five years) to allow us
to address global challenges and improve our position internationally
- maintenance and enhancement of the fabric of the University to allow us to grow and flourish
- reducing carbon emissions in line with our targets.
Shape and performance of the University
We define ourselves as a research-intensive, student-focused university with a serious commitment to knowledge exchange.
Research-intensive means that at least 95 per cent of our academic staff who are eligible to be
returned in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) should be submissible, and that we will increase to
500 the number of staff who meet the criteria. It means being in the top ten nationally for research
quality (presently in ninth place).
Student-focused means that we expect to be in the top ten nationally, achieving a mean
score of 80 per cent across all areas surveyed and an overall satisfaction score of 90 per cent
in the National Student Survey (NSS) and in our own Student Satisfaction Survey (SSS). Present
performance is at 78 per cent mean score and 88 per cent overall satisfied. It also means focusing
on student employability and mobility.
Our commitment to knowledge exchange will require increases in staff engagement and in income from this source.
From the above we can derive the following top-level Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the period to 2017.
- Number of research-active (REF eligible) staff by 2017: 500 (322 in RAE 2008)
- Average REF rank: in the top ten nationally for research quality in the Units of Assessment returned
- Satisfaction in NSS and SSS: mean score of 80 per cent, overall score 90 per cent
- Graduate track employment on graduation: 70 per cent
- Academic staff demonstrating our impact by engaging in knowledge exchange: 50 per cent
- Income growth: 30 per cent over the planning period
- Cash surplus target: 5.5 per cent from 2014-15 onwards
- Reliable income from philanthropic sources: £2.5m per annum
- A place in the Times Higher Education world top 200 and a top 25 position in the Times
UK league table by 2017
- 15 per cent of our home students internationally mobile by 2017
We will perform in accordance with the above profile through the use of Appraisal and Performance Review
in such a way that individuals are clearly aware of the relationship between their personal objectives and
University objectives. University KPIs will similarly be taken into account when evaluating promotions
criteria and career progression.
The University is committed to providing effective and efficient professional services that will allow it to
meet its strategic objectives in the core businesses of teaching, research, and knowledge exchange.
Professor Colin Riordan
This was approved by Council on 20 February 2012.