HEFCE strategic plan 2003-08
(Revised April 2004)
This strategic plan, revised in April 2004, sets out our broad vision for the development of HE over the next decade, and our strategy and proposed activities for moving towards it. It reflects extensive discussions with stakeholders, responses to a consultation document, and the Government's plans in the White Paper on the future of higher education.
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Table of contents, foreword and introduction (read on-line)
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- Foreword by the Chairman
- Introduction by the Chief Executive
- Mission statement
- Our strategic vision and role
- Strategic aims:
- Widening participation and fair access
- Enhancing excellence in learning and teaching
- Enhancing excellence in research
- Enhancing the contribution of HE to the economy and society
- Building on institutions' strengths
- Developing leadership, governance and management
- Excellence in delivery
- Implementation and monitoring
- Annex A: Financial and resource information
- Annex B: Risk management framework
We are right to be proud of our universities and colleges. They produce some of the finest research in the world. They provide much excellent teaching, graduation rates are high, and students enjoy a good employment record. The sector is increasingly responsive to the needs of the wider community. But this is no time to rest on our laurels, because the challenges facing higher education are more wide-ranging and profound than ever before.
The White Paper, 'The future of higher education', has set us all a demanding agenda. It not only answers important funding questions that have long been debated in the sector, it also sketches a picture of how higher education might look. The Higher Education Funding Council for England played its part in helping to shape this vision, and is taking a central role in delivering the resulting policies. It is within this context that our 2003-08 strategic plan is set.
We know that international competition is driving up standards. As more countries recognise the importance of high-quality research and new knowledge to economic success and social cohesion, we too must improve to keep ahead. An increasingly diverse student population expects more from higher education. Other stakeholders - business, taxpayers and government - place new demands on us. These growing expectations may be challenging, but they are also opportunities to deliver through greater diversity and new forms of collaboration.
Perhaps the greatest change is to the traditional concept of higher education. Lifelong learning - the continued acquisition of knowledge from cradle to grave - is turning education from a single life episode to a long-running series. Universities and colleges must continue to respond to its implications. We are already moving towards a system where half the population can expect to experience higher education at some time in their life. This will not be just through the academic three-year degree, but in new ways, such as the two-year vocational foundation degree or even as a series of learning opportunities to top up skills and knowledge as and when needed.
All this requires a step-change in how we fund, manage and deliver higher education. In this plan, HEFCE presents a vision that we believe can deliver many of the proposals in the White Paper, building on the strengths of institutions and meeting the needs of our stakeholders and customers in the coming years.
This strategic plan is the outcome of a lengthy period of discussion and consultation within the Council and with our partners and stakeholders.
Our strategy has been developed within the broad national policy framework established by the White Paper 'The future of higher education'. It sets out our plans to carry forward the key policy aims in that document requiring action by the Council. It responds to the challenges that will shape the higher education system over the coming decade, and describes our vision of a system responding positively to those challenges.
A crucial element in implementing our strategy is the strong working relationship that we have developed with universities and colleges and other key stakeholders. As the HE system, and the world in which it operates, become ever more complex and subject to change, we must confront together a range of problems for which partnership working is the key to finding effective solutions.
We hope that our colleagues in universities and colleges, for their part, will find in our plan a secure and practical framework for their own planning and activities throughout and beyond the planning period. We will continue to work with them to ensure that national policies and our strategy are put fully into effect, and to support and maintain a national HE system working consistently to international standards of excellence.
Sir Howard Newby
Chief Executive, HEFCE