Defining success in our anniversary year

Published: 16 June 2017 at 08:00

Success will be defined by the impact we have on the lives of our students and the communities we serve.

On 16 June 1992 we became a university, a milestone in a history that started in 1858 with John Ruskin's Inaugural Address at the opening of the Cambridge School of Art (29 October 1858). The transformational power of education, widening participation, and innovation were part of our institutional DNA from that day onwards. Today marks another key milestone, our 25th anniversary of achieving university status. This is a day to celebrate all that has gone before but also to look forward with anticipation for what the next 25 years will bring.

Today we launch our new strategy, Designing our Future 2017-26. This sets out the high-level principles that will guide and shape our university in the coming years. I have been asked why we use the word design in the title – it was a very deliberate decision. It links back to our foundations, it reflects what we do through our education, research and innovation to help shape the future of our students and the communities we work with, and it is linked to the concept of design thinking, bringing together the needs of students and our wider community, the possibilities opened up by new technology and the need for constant innovation.

The strategy sets out our vision, priorities and ambitions for the next ten years. It is built around three central themes: what we will do, who we will need, and the key enablers to support this. The values that sit at the front of the document are central to who we are as a university. Although expressed differently from our last plan the essence remains the same – it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that we live these as a university.

Our success will be defined by the positive impact we have on the lives of our students and the communities we serve. By weaving together our values, our approach to addressing challenges and prioritising those areas where we can make the greatest impact, we will create a distinctive university that is entrepreneurial in nature, strongly focused on our students and fully inclusive of all who want to study, work or partner with us.

If we are to succeed in delivering on our plans, we must prioritise. Each time we make a decision, we must have the courage to ask ourselves whether the outcome will strengthen ARU, provide strategic benefit, and make the most effective use of our resources. We need to be responsible stewards of our income and ensure that we use our resources wisely.

Underpinning this strategy will be an internally-facing three-year rolling operational plan. This will set out in greater detail the choices we need to make, the actions we will undertake to deliver on our strategic aims and a set of key performance indicators to help us measure our progress.

As well as our own priorities and challenges, there is continued uncertainty in the external environment, not least due to the UK leaving the European Union and the speed of technological advancements. Delivery of this strategy will be challenging: it will require determination to succeed, and there will be difficult choices to make. We have retained the best from our past in this strategy, building upon our entrepreneurial spirit, student focus and inclusive approach, while recognising that we must let go of some activities if we are to focus on new priorities and realise our full potential.

I look forward to working with you in delivering on this strategy which will define the future of our University.

Happy birthday Anglia Ruskin University.


Read more from Iain