Our strategy

Our mission

Advancing knowledge, transforming lives.

Our vision

We will be a broad-based, research-intensive university, open to all who can benefit from a University of Plymouth education, and delivering excellent interdisciplinary research, experiential education and civic engagement.

Experiential learning: Second year marine biology students out in the field

The Core Principles

We will adapt our existing core strategic principles to enhance the University’s reputation and to understand sustainability as an embedded principle across everything we do.

1. Quality: striving for the highest quality in everything we do.

2. One Team: working, planning for and delivering a shared vision, underpinned by a strong sense of collegiality.

3. Reputation: building our institutional reputation through confidence in our pioneering contributions, excellence in education and research, socio-economic impact, and thought leadership.

4. Sustainability: sustainability in our finances, reputation, services, partnerships, environmental performance and global contribution.

Marine and maritime environments and societies

We want to maintain and build upon our pre-eminence internationally for contributions to the sustainability of marine and maritime environments and societies. The marine environment is integral to the well-being of life on Earth. Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the marine environment is home to 95% of the Earth’s species. Humans are dependent on the oceans more than ever before – for food, oxygen, water, mineral, sustainable energy. Yet vast areas remain unexplored. Mega cities of the world are on coasts, capitalising on economic and trade benefits but impacting on, and vulnerable to, marine environments and climate change impacts.

Of growing economic importance, marine and maritime industries support over 950,000 jobs in the UK. The UK has a Maritime Strategy to 2050 which supports significant investment as well as protection. In the South-West, regional development strategy is strongly anchored in offshore renewable energy, autonomous shipping, marine cyber security and the health and well-being of both coastal and rural communities.

The University of Plymouth is pre-eminent in these matters, and more.

From its foundations as a College of Navigation in the 19th century, the University has built a unique breadth of disciplinary interests in matters relating to marine and maritime environments and societies. Leading education and research in Marine Biology (not least in marine microplastics), Ocean Science and Marine Engineering is complemented by marine and maritime themes across the University, including in History, English, Education, Architecture and the Built Environment, the Business School, Law, Geography and Psychology. Three times recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary prize, two of which were awarded for the University’s strengths in marine and maritime research.

Furthermore, Plymouth is the first choice for Health in the South-West, a focus for training of professionals in a system that can capitalise on
the well-being opportunities of the ‘blue environment’, while responding to the problems common amongst ageing populations and the health inequalities of coastal communities. Interdisciplinary health research includes links between marine biology and the discovery of novel antibiotics.

The University of Plymouth is equipped to build upon this base – given our location, the history and priorities of our City, our leading-edge education and research facilities, and our strong partnerships with research organisations and industries in Plymouth itself and internationally.

Our strategic priorities 

Three strategic priorities underpin our  Strategy for Excellence supported by a fourth enabling priority. Each priority has high level objectives which are
introduced here and will be developed further through an Implementation Plan which defines the key areas of work over the 10-year period, supported by key performance indicators. The plan will be responsive to changing circumstances and opportunities over the decade.

Enabling priority

Invest to ensure a leading-edge, sustainable university:
  • Enable investment through optimisation of resource allocation.
  • Optimise emerging technologies and digital trends for the benefit of all.
  • Deliver transparent and responsible institutional stewardship.

Priority one:

  • 8 Deliver excellent education and research
  • 8 Ensure an innovative education portfolio
  • 8 Deliver programme excellence
  • 8 Support strong research foundations and build research power

Priority two:

  • 8 Nurture outstanding students and staff
  • 8 Provide a distinctive South-West coast experience preparing graduates for the world
  • 8 Attract, develop and retain excellent staff

Priority three:

  • 8 Drive global connectivity that makes a difference
  • 8 Achieve influence and impact through significant industry and business partnerships
  • 8 Maximise reach through strategic and exciting institutional partnerships

How will we know that our strategy for excellence has been successful?

In summary, by 2030 the University will be:

  • A broad-based, international university of the region, maintaining pre-eminence in research and education in marine and maritime environments and societies, and leadership in environmental sustainability.
  • Exuding confidence in its excellence and impact.
  • Attracting, investing in, and retaining the very best staff who are delivering excellence, with critical mass built and maintained in areas of research excellence. At least 75% of academic staff will be defined as ‘research-active’.
  • Leading research responses to global challenges, particularly through international and interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Impacting economic and societal outcomes through strong and productive industrial and civic engagement.
  • Nurturing skilled, adaptable and resilient graduates who become global citizens and leaders.
  • Delivering a mixed portfolio of level and type of programmes, predicting market needs, responsive to new opportunities and reflective of research strengths. At least 20% of the student population will be postgraduate taught students and at least 20% international students.
  • Prioritising personalised, research-led and experiential education and learning, connecting with learners internationally.
  • Sustaining an exciting group of international partnerships that are flourishing in terms of education and research, the exchange of staff and students and project collaboration. Significant partnerships with leading marine and maritime institutions will be a defining characteristic.
  • Ensuring thought-leadership, setting policy agendas locally, nationally and internationally, and communicating and engaging effectively with all stakeholders.

Our culture, ways of working and investment will be driving this success.

  • Delivering a healthy surplus to support investment.
  • Agile and innovative, willing to take calculated risks, ensuring the University is ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing environment, and dynamic and responsive to the opportunities to sustain excellence.
  • Supporting staff to drive new initiatives and be proactive ambassadors for the University.
  • Supporting world-class professional services that fully meet the University’s needs and aspirations and that are agile in adopting new practices, including shared services opportunities.
  • Attracting corporate investors and partners in our research and education facilities and activities with a significant development campaign.
  • Supporting staff and students through a leading-edge digital strategy.
  • Maintaining high-quality infrastructure that is inspiring, transformative, sustainable, digitally enabled and makes a difference to our city and community.

The next steps

The University will develop an Implementation Plan to support the strategy which will include phased activities over the ten year period with agreed key performance indicators. 

Through the annual process of business planning, the Faculties and Professional Services will be discussing how to align their activities to the 2030 goals.

Teams will review their existing strategic priorities and identify those best aligned with this new Strategy. These will become their priority areas, which will be monitored by local performance indicators.

Your input and support has been crucial to the development of Strategy 2030 and will continue to underpin our success. We will continue with regular updates through Staff Briefings, Vice-Chancellor video messages, open fora, discussions in the Senior Leadership Forum and through your faculty and services teams.

Our Future of Excellence belongs to everyone. Let’s make it happen.

Architect’s impression of the new Intercity Place building at Plymouth station