Strategic Plan to 2010 - Summary
Foreword from the Vice Chancellor
This document sets out a summary of Durham University’s Strategic Plan to 2010. Our
strategy is the result of careful analysis of our operating environment, much thought and
extensive discussion with staff and students across the University. It sets out the changes
we need to make to continue to be successful within a challenging and ever-changing
operating environment. But I hope it also communicates our pride in this wonderful
institution, and our confidence in our ability to continue to develop in the years ahead.
The full text of the Strategic Plan is available on the University’s website at
Professor Sir Kenneth Calman
Vice Chancellor and Warden
Part One Purpose & Values
Creating the future through internationally recognised research, scholarship
and learning within a distinctive collegiate environment.
In fulfilling its purpose, Durham University holds the following values:
• We are committed to remaining a research-led institution, valuing knowledge and
learning for their own sake as well as for the cultural, social and economic benefits they
• We are committed to the communication of knowledge and learning, through an
environment in which leading academic staff teach and engage in dissemination of
knowledge to a broader community;
• We believe in creating an environment in which academic excellence can be combined
with opportunities for personal development, so enabling individuals to create their own
• We are committed to remaining at the heart of and contributing to improvements in the
quality of life of the people in the North East of England;
• We seek to recruit and develop staff and students of the highest quality, recognising
that people are our primary resource;
• We respect the academic freedom of all staff and students that they might confidently
engage in leading-edge and innovative knowledge creation and debate;
• We are committed to promoting diversity and equality of opportunity for all staff and
• We will ensure that our activities are carried out ethically and to the highest standards.
Part Two Durham University Strategy: to 2010
We will be internationally recognised as a world class research university. We will build
the research strength necessary to become world leaders in selected subject areas. We
will work to enhance the distinctive student experience we offer to all our students, while
diversifying our student body. We will enhance our international profile, while remaining
mindful of our important contribution to the North East region. We will achieve this in a
sustainable manner which secures our future development.
By 2010 we will have secured Durham’s place in the top ten UK universities, be
recognised as being among the top thirty universities in Europe, and the top one hundred
in the world.
Priorities to 2010
Underlying our strategy is a commitment to maintaining the high standards which we
already demonstrate in many areas of activity, for example in our student experience, as
demonstrated by our excellent completion rates. The following list of priorities highlights
the key developments we intend to make over the next five years.
• To achieve quality profiles which demonstrate significant international research
excellence in all academic subject areas in RAE 2008.
• To support and develop a number of research groupings recognised as world leading
using, where appropriate, structures such as research institutes.
• To continue to recruit, develop and retain staff of the highest quality.
• To invest in our academic base by diversifying our sources of income and reducing our
reliance on public funding.
• To increase both the number and proportion of international students.
• To increase both the number and proportion of postgraduate research students.
• To develop and implement a sustainable infrastructure development programme across
the University, including taking advantage of the development opportunity on the North
Shore at Queen’s Campus.
Aim 1 Research
To produce research of international excellence in all our subjects while building
strengths necessary to be recognised as world leaders in selected areas.
To fulfil the above aim there are three key strategic areas we plan to focus on:
A Ensuring we maximise our performance in RAE 2008
RAE ratings have an increasingly important influence on global reputation and a
direct impact on our ability to attract staff, students and research income. We want
the significant majority of our research output to be graded 4*, 3* or 2* in the 2008
exercise. Preparation for RAE 2008 is therefore our top short term priority.
B Building strength in selected subject areas
It is increasingly the case that we must compete in research globally, for staff,
research grants, and recognition. We believe that we can improve our
international research standing, but we acknowledge that we do not yet have the
capacity to be genuine world leaders across all disciplines. Our strategy is
therefore to identify those subject areas in which we can realistically build on our
current strength to support and develop research groupings which are recognised
as world leading.
C Improving our research culture and infrastructure
As a research intensive institution, it is essential that we prioritise the development
of our research culture and infrastructure by recruiting the right staff, securing
more and higher value research grants and contracts and admitting a greater
proportion of research postgraduate students. We also need to provide research
facilities which are appropriate to a leading research university and protect staff
Aim 2 Student Experience
To provide an internationally distinctive learning experience that combines
academic excellence with the personal development that comes from college life.
We want all of our students to be able to develop both academically and personally within
an environment that is attractive to and supportive of an increasingly diverse and
international student population. There are three aspects to our strategy in this area:
A Size and Diversity of the Student body
We plan to increase the diversity of the student body while maintaining high entry
standards for all our students. We will continue to build upon our progress in
widening participation in the new context of variable tuition fees, and work to
attract greater numbers of international and postgraduate research students.
B Enhancing the role of the Colleges and the student experience
We plan to expand our college accommodation so that more of our students,
including postgraduates, can benefit. The colleges will continue to work to offer a
core set of services to all students and to ensure that there is consistency in the
quality of their delivery. We will also enhance the profile of the colleges through
our marketing efforts.
C Excellence in learning and teaching
We are committed to providing high quality research-led teaching that introduces
students to the latest findings in their subjects. This can only be sustained by
active research engagement, and we will therefore work to ensure an appropriate
balance of staff time between research, teaching and administration.
Aim 3 Internationalisation
To further internationalise our staff and student communities, and enhance and
promote our reputation internationally.
Durham University has a strong national reputation for both research and teaching but we
need to raise our international profile. Given our desire to attract the best staff and
students in an increasingly globalised Higher Education market, we plan to do this in two
A The internationalisation of Durham University
The development of high profile, world class research groupings attracting leading
international staff is a key step towards a successful internationalisation strategy.
We also plan to increase both the number and proportion of international students.
B The raising of Durham’s international profile
The establishment of world leading research groupings is an important aspect of
this. In addition, the formation of alliances and partnerships will be important, both
high profile institutional level alliances and departmental research links and
collaboration. Our international marketing will also be enhanced.
Aim 4 Regional impact
To enhance our contribution to the economic, social, cultural and educational life
of the North East through our position as an international research institution.
As a leading research University, our activities impact positively on the local region. Our
strategy is to ensure that our positive impact is maximised through a conscious and
targeted programme of outreach and regional engagement. This has three aspects:
A Supporting the knowledge-based economy
We will support the development of the knowledge-based economy in the North
East of England through our internationally recognised research, in partnership
with regional stakeholders. We will develop our relationships with research-based
industries, and look to strengthen our research at Queen’s campus.
B Social engagement and enhancing quality of life
We will contribute to the quality of our local environment through a sensitive
approach to developing our estate. We will continue to offer opportunities for both
education and entertainment, through careful management of our buildings,
facilities, cultural assets and events. Our work in outreach, volunteering and
community engagement will continue.
C Stakeholder engagement and communication
We will support our strategy with a targeted approach for regional stakeholder
engagement and communication aimed at opinion formers and decision makers,
the media, stakeholders and regional communities.
Aim 5 Sustainability
To continue to be a sustainable institution, both as a well managed and governed
organisation, and through our internationally excellent scholarship.
Our autonomy and ability for self-direction is precious, and to sustain this for the future we
must diversify our income streams, and ensure that we are well-led, managed and
A Ensuring we can invest in our academic base
We need to ensure that we can invest in the people, intellectual resources and
physical infrastructure that will establish and maintain a competitive advantage as
a research-led University. As a priority, we will work to increase the financial
resources available for investment.
B Ensuring that we have the leadership, management and governance that we
We will ensure we have academic and support staff with the skills we need,
streamline our governance and committee structures, and improve our
management information and decision making processes. We will ensure effective
communication and external relations and enhance the strong and positive
relationship we enjoy with our alumni.
2006 How are we doing? section
− RAE simulations were run during 2005 and 2006 and significant planning
support is being focused on achieving the best possible result in RAE 2008.
− Postgraduate Research Students now make up 8% of the total student
population, with a growth of 24% in full-time numbers on the 2004/05 figure.
− Over the last 4 years the University has increased research grants and
contracts income at an average of 6% per annum.
− There has been an overall increase of 1.3% in the success rate of research
grant applications from all sources; from 46.2% in 2003/04 to 47.5% in
− 49% of our Postgraduate Research students have external funding, four years
ahead of schedule.
− Over the last four years, the University has increased research grants and
contracts income at an average of 6% per annum.
− Placed equal 5th in the National Students Survey, with a score of 4.2 out of 5.
− Graduate employment level and further study: Durham is ranked 18th in the
English universities for graduate employment and further study, with an overall
employability rate of 94% as measured by the Sunday Times.
− 10th highest completion rate in England at 95.1%.
− 9th among English universities for learning resources as measured by the
National Student Survey.
− 8th in the British Universities Sports Association rankings, with an 85% sport
− International student numbers have grown by 16.3% since 04/05, making up
over 13% of the total student population.
− Proportion of academic staff of non-UK origin is rising steadily.
− Durham Business School is placed 10th in Europe for research output as
measured by Financial Times.
− The Durham MBA has moved up within the Economist rankings to take 57th
place internationally and 21st place in Europe.
− 2nd place within the UK for the number of citations per paper in the sciences.
− Placed 54th within Europe in the 2006 THES World Rankings.
− Over the last three years income from royalties has grown by an average of
22% per annum.
− Durham students are heavily involved in voluntary activities in the community.
The number of projects has grown significantly from 23 to 77 in the last 8
years and there are currently 730 students across both campuses involved as
volunteers working on community projects.
− Estimated turnover of the University’s spin-out companies rose from
approximately £600,000 in 2003/04 to approximately £730,000 in 2004/05.
− £4.1 million worth of income was generated from alumni, corporate sponsors
and other benefactors during 2005/06. This represents a significant growth
from £2.7m in 2003/04.
− The estimated value of Durham’s exposure from international, national and
regional press coverage rose by 12% last year.
− In 2005/06 the University invested £28 million in capital projects.
− Durham’s reliance on public income is reducing at an average rate of 1.3% per
− A review of Council was completed in 2005 and work is continuing to enhance
the profile of Council, its effectiveness and that of its members.
− A review group is finalising proposals for the Senate’s sub-committee systems
and to consider the operation and membership of Senate
Queries about the Strategy should be directed to:
Strategic Planning and Change Unit
Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HP
Tel: 0191 334 6884
The full University Strategy is available on our website: