5. Strategy 2015-2017
5.1 The purpose of this strategy is to underpin the continuing development of the University as an effective and inclusive learning community in which all students and staff are both learners and active participants.
5.2 Key strategic learning and teaching enhancement themes for the period 2015-2017 include employability, internationalisation, research-teaching linkages, student evaluation of teaching, student support and accessibility, equality, inclusion and diversity.
The University’s Employability Strategy sets out the commitment to developing employable, confident graduates with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience who can contribute and succeed in an ever changing environment locally, nationally and globally. In progressing work on employability, the mission is to be ambitious in providing the opportunities for students to develop the skills and attributes that will enhance their employability.
A University of Stirling student will have the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and characteristics that enable them to be:
- Scholarly and skilled within and between disciplines
- Intellectually curious and research minded
- Committed to personal and professional development
- Engaged citizens with a global perspective
The University is committed to the development of these graduate attributes through the student learning experience and as such this strategy takes account of the Employability Strategy and seeks to support its success.
The Internationalisation Strategy aims to strengthen the University’s established reputation for providing world-leading research and developing knowledgeable, skilled graduates through a wide range of transnational research and educational activities, and mutually beneficial collaborations. The Internationalisation Strategy promotes the institution’s core values of respect for diversity in cultures and beliefs and a pursuit of knowledge that sustains beneficial change in local, national and international society. It builds on the University’s ambitions to improve its self-reliance and strengthen its position as a pre-eminent force in Scottish education and research where ability, not background, is valued. The strategy’s vision is that all staff and students value and embrace the diversity of international experiences, histories and cultures and actively strive to be global citizens.
The links between this strategy and the goals detailed within the University’s Internationalisation Strategy are important. As such the LTQES seeks to complement and support internationalisation activity and strategic goals.
5.5 Research-Teaching Linkages
Developing excellence in learning and teaching in a research-led institution necessitates quality research-teaching linkages. The University has a commitment to strengthen and enhance the links between research and teaching, through teaching that is research-led, research-oriented, research-based and research-informed as appropriate.
This commitment is crucial as a defining characteristic of the student learning experience to enable students to develop expertise in critical thinking and synthesis of knowledge, whilst interacting with new ideas and thinking in the relevant subject area. This learning experience is progressed through the expertise and knowledge of staff, together with the associated ‘research skills’ to support and enhance student learning via the development of key inquiry, analytical and collaborative skills.
Research culture, innovation and research outputs continue to be firmly embedded in the delivery of teaching and learning in each school, and indeed, in the teaching experience.
5.6 Student Evaluation of Teaching
The current school structure provides formal mechanisms for involving students in teaching evaluation, and for sharing best practice. School officers now represent discipline or divisional student cohorts on school learning and teaching committees, and work with staff to progress improvements that are suggested by student evaluations and feedback. This work will be further supported by the new module evaluation software that was implemented in spring 2015. University strategy places students at the centre of their learning as partners in the learning community.
5.7 Student Support
The University is committed to a holistic support system that maximises the opportunities for all students to succeed in fulfilling their potential. We seek to minimise the factors that increase the risk of students having a negative student experience or leaving university early, and that maximise the opportunities for all students to succeed in fulfilling their potential. The University works with students to encourage the development of a sense of belonging and purpose through induction, student-centred learning and social integration. Moreover, we monitor student retention and success and seek to further develop integrated data management systems to facilitate such monitoring and enable early support interventions.
5.8 Accessibility, Equality, Inclusion and Diversity
The University is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and good relations between people. It is a key element of this strategy that we maintain a strong focus on supporting the accessibility and inclusivity of the University’s curricula and arrangements for learning, teaching and assessment.
5.9 Strategic Objectives
Arising from the key enhancement areas above and a wide array of feedback and input from students, staff and stakeholders, a comprehensive but none the less not exhaustive list of strategic objectives include the aims to:
a) Nurture research awareness and aptitude in students through the use of research-based learning.
b) Provide innovative and effective teaching, learning and assessment.
c) Continue the development of stimulating, innovative and intellectually rigorous curricula, providing high quality teaching informed by excellent research.
d) Facilitate a flexible and interdisciplinary approach to learning, allowing transition, retention and progression through well designed and supported international curricula.
e) Provide appropriate technology to enhance the learning experience of students both on and off campus.
f) Respond rapidly to the opportunities offered by new technologies to engage with and utilise the capacity of scholars worldwide.
g) Facilitate entry and transition through degree programmes commensurate with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework; the Bologna Process; and the expectations of an increasingly diverse student population, including Scottish students taught within the new environment of the Curriculum for Excellence.
h) Offer excellent student support across all programmes and locations of learning to enhance and personalise the individual’s learning experience.
i) Ensure that we are accessible and welcoming to all students who can benefit from the education we offer.
j) Provide a Graduate School and a graduate education system that delivers a supportive and stimulating environment for the postgraduate population.
k) Further strengthen the employability of students through continuous review and redevelopment of module and programme provision, emphasising capacities and skills for the market place and the contributions of employers
l) Embed the University’s graduate attributes within the curriculum and as appropriate to the undergraduate and postgraduate community.
m) Maximise employment experiences, work placements and international study as integral to the student learning experience.
n) Enhance the international experience of our students through exchanges, recruitment and the internationalised curriculum.
o) Increase and raise the profile of the University’s engagement in creating and exchanging knowledge in the public domain.
p) Engage with, and contribute to, the national Enhancement Themes, and the Higher Education Academy’s recognition scheme, events and resources, to maximise opportunities for the exchange of best practice across the HE sector.
q) Work with partners in tertiary education to optimise the strengths of the university and college sectors.
r) Sustain and enhance the professional development of students and staff.
s) Develop a programme of academic staff development mapped against the UK Professional Standards Framework (UK PSF) that will be HEA accredited, and increase the number of its staff holding HEA fellowship status.