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Previous strategy (2010-2015)

1. Strategic Goal: Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Quality Enhancement

Excellence in learning, teaching and quality enhancement encompasses our objectives, strategies, targets and priorities over the next five years. Fundamental to this is the value that the University places upon life-long learning and education, research-led teaching and the provision of one of the best student experiences in the UK.

Aim: To provide for an outstanding accessible education and one of the best student experiences

Current position:

Our future focus on learning, teaching and enhancement grows out of a position of strength but not complacency. In 2008 the University provided for a total population of 10400 students or 7102.5 FTEs (HESA FTE figures for 2007-8). The number of students has increased steadily, the balance between undergraduate study and postgraduate study is such that about 84% of our student FTEs are undergraduates, 13 % are taught postgraduates and 3% are research postgraduates. The University has a number of international agreements and outlets through learning and teaching including programmes that are delivered in Oman, Singapore, and Vietnam.

In 2007/8 the University was ranked ‘as the best place to be’ for international students. 19% of students come from outside the UK. 80 different nationalities exist within the student population. The 2008-9 National Student Survey results show higher levels of student satisfaction on what was already a very satisfactory 2007-8 survey response on the student learning experience. 88% of students surveyed indicated that overall they were satisfied with the quality of their programme, which places the University equal 4th in Scotland and performing above the national average of 82% satisfaction. Stirling consistently performs beyond expectations in terms of retention and its completion rates extremely competitive amongst UK Universities. The University has been named Scottish University of the year 2009 by the Sunday Times newspaper, in recognition of the University’s 'outstanding student experience and record for innovation and high quality teaching'.

The promotion of excellence in learning and teaching is supported through the quality of our staff and partnership with our students. The Centre for Academic Practice and Learning supports continuing professional development, dissemination of good practice and the transition of students into higher education. Students continue to be central to the development of policy, practice and critical reflection. We are committed to learning from student feedback. The implementation of Future Directions will drive effective and efficient methods of delivering core activities, including learning and teaching.

A high percentage of our postgraduate students (about 40%) are concentrated in a limited number of postgraduate programmes. Over the last four academic years 96% of our undergraduate Honours students graduated from 135 (about 44%) of our undergraduate Honours degree programmes. We will continue to review the balance and scope of our academic portfolio, informed by market research, student demand and internal and external opportunities. We will continue to increase the overall proportion of our students that are postgraduates by increasing the recruitment to both postgraduate taught and research programmes. Maximizing income from our teaching activities, particularly postgraduate activities contributes to both the sustainability and development of excellence in research.

In pursuing excellence in learning, teaching and quality enhancement during the period covered by this strategy we will


  • uphold the principle that learning, teaching and scholarship remains valued
  • promote a student-centred and research-led approach to learning, teaching and scholarship
  • support transition, flexibility, progression, retention and employability
  • provide the opportunity for an international education for students
  • maintain, develop and review a high quality innovative learning environment and curricula
  • ensure effective and efficient use of resources and delivery of learning, teaching and assessment
  • value, respect and increase levels of diversity amongst the student population and ensure that the University’s curricula and arrangements for learning, teaching and assessment actively promote equality, diversity and inclusion
  • maintain and develop excellent teachers and researchers and provide for high quality and comprehensive staff development opportunities
  • support and strengthen the University’s engagement with the creation and exchange of knowledge within the public arena
  • attract and support the best available staff, most talented students while at the same time improving current levels of access into our programmes
  • increase postgraduate activity (both postgraduate taught and research student numbers)
  • ensure that quality assurance mechanisms and procedures meet internal and external needs and are efficient and meaningful
  • continue to strengthen the culture of critical reflection and robust data to inform learning, teaching and quality enhancement.


The strategies for achieving the above objectives include:

  • implement the recommendations of the 2009 academic portfolio review group
  • implement the actions and priorities outlined in the 2010-2015 operational action plan for learning, teaching and quality enhancement
  • implement Future Directions recommendations
  • the expansion of non-SFC teaching activity
  • the implementation of a new internationalisation strategy which includes a focus on trans-national in country opportunities for Stirling
  • maximise opportunities for continuing professional development, knowledge transfer and postgraduate research from Inverness and Stornoway campuses
  • CAPL to run quality programmes to support staff development, access, transition and support employability and internationalisation
  • ensure that research feeds directly into learning at all levels
  • increase the opportunities for students for students to study abroad and or undertake, work placements or internships
  • introduce a higher education record of achievement for students


  • to have a ratio of at least 1 postgraduate research student FTE per academic FTE member of staff by 2013 (current ratio is 0.7, based on staff with contracts including both research and teaching)
  • achieve an increase in postgraduate numbers by 2014 to such that the total number represents between 18-22% of the total student population
  • finance and planning to provide the costs of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes by the end of February 2010
  • review the standards for advanced entry into our programmes and the associated student support with a view to increasing the number of students accessing the University through advanced entry routes
  • increase the proportion of our total student population represented by part-time students by 2012

Professor Grant Jarvie

Deputy Principal, Learning and Teaching

2. Learning and Teaching Quality Enhancement Strategy 2010-2015

Part 1: University Mission and Strategic Vision

1. The University of Stirling is committed to the pursuit of world-class research, learning and scholarship in order to inspire, challenge, motivate and support individuals who want to shape their world.

2. This strategy builds upon the success of the Learning and Teaching Quality Enhancement Strategy 2006-2009 and extensive consultations regarding the review of our academic portfolio. The process of curriculum reform and providing further opportunities for student learning both within and surrounding the curriculum will continue throughout the next strategy period. It is recognised that the future strategy is progressing from a position of strength but not complacency.

3. The new strategy is guided by the University Mission while acknowledging that the kind of student experience that needs to be provided is one that involves staff and students working together to provide knowledge and to develop skills and attitudes that help equip Stirling graduates to contribute to and make a difference to the world.

4. Fundamental to this will be the value that the University places upon research-led teaching and learning, the way we teach, the professional development of students and staff, supporting the transition into and through higher education at all levels, fostering scholarship, mobility, the creation and transmission of knowledge and one of the best student experiences in the UK

5. The new strategy is designed to steer the next stage of development by:

  • Systematically forging research-teaching linkages across the curriculum;
  • Strengthening the engagement of students with the University in issues relating to learning, teaching, enhancement and research;
  • Enhancing the international experience of UK students;
  • A commitment within the next 18 months to assess the merits of implementation of branding the Stirling Curriculum to make it internationally distinctive in terms of both content and reach;
  • Facilitating transition into and through degree programmes commensurate with the Scottish Qualifications Framework; the Bologna Process and the expectations of an increasingly diverse student population;
  • Sustaining and enhancing the professional development of students and staff;
  • Strengthen the University’s engagement with the creation and exchange of knowledge within the public arena;
  • Enhancing the further employability of our students through the provision of specific opportunities to experience higher level skills, work-based learning , community placements and/or internships, where relevant;
  • Make the best use of resources available for learning and teaching so as to maximise the benefits for both staff and students;
  • Being informed, by research and policy relating to the student experience, teaching, learning and assessment in Higher Education.

6. The new strategy will be supported by the University Library which will be transformed into a 21st century library serving the information needs of 21st century students and scholars. It will be a vibrant, welcoming place where learners interact with each other and resources in many formats, aided by information professionals. The Library will be a place where both those collaborating with their studies and those wishing to work on their own find a conducive study environment and where researchers and members of the community discover and draw upon the University’s special collections of rare books, manuscripts and fine art. The latest communication technology will be available to enable a rich interchange between learners, teachers and researchers and encourage enterprise and creativity as well as scholarship. All members of the University will be able to exploit fully the new opportunities created by the constantly changing information landscape.

Part 2: Purpose and Objectives of Strategy

7. The aim of the Strategy for Learning and Teaching Quality Enhancement is to ensure 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. The Strategy embraces all students and staff and provides a framework for continuing development and prioritises actions. It describes those characteristics of learning, teaching and scholarship at Stirling which are to be cherished and sustained; it identifies areas of practice and policy for debate, review and action; and it enables the University to take account of external developments in its forward planning for quality enhancement and quality assurance.

8. The Strategy aims to:

  • provide a platform for the development of a shared understanding of learning and teaching priorities;
  • generate and foster strategic debate at University and Department level about enhancing Stirling’s learning and teaching infrastructure and facilities, and the kinds of students, programmes and modes of delivery that will characterise the institution in future;
  • provide a framework for implementation of policies approved by the Quality Enhancement Committee;

indicate priorities for allocation of resources to learning, teaching and enhancement;

  • develop an inclusive curricula accessible to a wide range of students;
  • provide for one of the best student experiences in the UK;
  • encourage development of technology to enhance learning and teaching of on-campus students, and to realise its potential for distance learning;
  • inform staff development activities in learning and teaching;

generate a culture of continuing educational improvement while recognising the many and varied commitments of staff;

  • inform the maintenance and development of informal and formal learning and teaching facilities to meet the particular requirements of students and staff;
  • promote equality and respect and value diversity.

9. The strategy will be revised every five years by the Quality Enhancement Committee (QEC) and submitted to Academic Council (AC). It will inform the development and implementation of the companion Operational Action Plan which sets out clear targets, the means of achieving these targets, and indicators by which to measure the extent to which they have been achieved. The Operational Action Plan and progress in attaining its targets is reviewed annually by the Quality Enhancement Committee (QEC).

Part 3: Changing Contexts

10. Factors in our external environment we need to take account of include the following:

In the short to medium term:

Continuing change in approaches to learning and teaching and the curriculum in schools, including increasing variety in assessment methods, personal development planning, and the Curriculum for Excellence reform programme:

Continuing and deepening Scottish and UK government focus on employability and skills of the workforce, including graduates. See for example:

Increasing Scottish Funding Council focus on same for graduates:

Scottish Government focus in its New Horizons agreement with the Scottish university sector specifically on the graduate contribution to economic vitality of Scotland, as well as its social and cultural well-being:

Debate about teaching and the student experience taking place within broader debate elsewhere in the UK about higher education policy for the longer term, see

and the Paul Ramsden paper 'The Future of Higher Education - Teaching and the Student Experience'.

The renewal of Scottish Government science policy including challenges to universities posed in A strategic framework for science in Scotland (November 2008)

It will be important to continue to be aware of Government economic strategy over the next five years including the following publications:

11. Current issues overlapping with the above that will have medium to long term impact:

  • Ongoing debate about the value that undergraduate and postgraduate study creates for the individual, the economy and society against other choices that individuals and funders of study could make for the investment of time and resources;
  • The global economic climate;
  • A continuing and quickening pace of environmental and technological change and preparing graduates for that challenge, including facilitating the ability to re-learn for the challenge of lifelong learning;
  • Continuing pressures on the time and finances of nominally ‘full-time’ students as well as other categories of students;
  • The student body will continue to become more diverse, especially as the demographic and ethnic profile of Scotland, the UK and Europe continues to change and the impact of markedly increased women’s participation in further and higher education workforce and in the workforce continues to be felt. On the other hand, relative decline in achievement of boys at school and men’s participation in FE and HE may pose issues at subject level as well as in access, inclusion and for learning and teaching approaches;
  • An increasingly diverse student base, demonstrated, for example, by increased numbers of international students;
  • Addressing within our learning and teaching approaches the competitive challenge posed by institutions that may have more resources (e.g. in the rest of the UK);
  • There will be continuing drivers for greater personalisation of learning, for example through focus on small individual elements of learning driven by pedagogic experimentation and tailoring communication and information technology can offer;
  • Continually shifting legislative requirements in relation to the equality and diversity landscape, and in particular, increasing requirements upon Universities to promote equality across the major equality strands (gender, disability, race and (from 2010 ) age, sexual orientation and religion/belief);
  • The University will continue to focus and develop quality enhancement in-line with guidance from SFC and QAA (see;
  • There is recognition of the need to participate in and act upon feedback from internal and external student surveys including the National Student Survey and the International Student Barometer.

( It is likely that a single public sector duty to promote equality across the six major equality strands will come into force as part of the Single Equality Act in 2010.)

12. Internal University context

The changing external context will have to be addressed within a current internal context of reduced resources, because of less Research Quality Grant and rising costs, including staff costs. It is hoped that this phase will be followed by a phase of strategic investment in targeted areas of growth for the University.

Part 4: Strategic Objectives

There are three keys areas of activity that underpin this LTQES. These are the

Student Experience, Quality Enhancement and Quality Assurance. Within each of these three areas of activity there are number of strategic objectives which inform the development of the LTQES. These are as follows:-

13. Student Experience

Strategic Objectives

  • To promote a student-centred and research-led approach to learning, teaching and scholarship;
  • To provide a curricula that is stimulating, innovative and intellectually rigorous;
  • To facilitate and support transition, flexibility, progression and retention through a well designed and supported curriculum;
  • To provide the opportunity for an international education for all students;
  • To maintain and develop a high quality innovative learning environment and curricula that is relevant, distinctive, affordable, inclusive and engages with the environment outside academia;
  • To value, respect and respond to diversity amongst the student population, to ensure that the University’s curricula and arrangements for learning, teaching and assessment actively promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate fully in the learning experience at Stirling;
  • To enhance the employability of students and their capacity to succeed in a changing world.

14. Quality Enhancement

Strategic Objectives

  • To facilitate excellence in learning and teaching through development, enhancement, and research;
  • To enhance the employability of students and their capacity to succeed in a changing world;
  • To provide high quality and comprehensive staff development opportunities;
  • To continue to stimulate a culture of continuous improvement and enhancement through the critical scrutiny of effective practice, procedures and methods of learning;
  • To ensure effective and efficient use of resources and delivery of learning, teaching and assessment, including innovative approaches and making full use of new technologies;
  • To strengthen the University’s engagement with the creation and exchange of knowledge within the public arena;
  • To attract, invest in, support and retain the best available staff and those students with the potential to benefit from Higher Education;
  • To increase postgraduate activity (both postgraduate taught and research student numbers).

15. Quality Assurance

Strategic Objectives

  • To ensure that quality assurance mechanisms and procedures meet internal and external needs and are efficient and meaningful;
  • To continue to strengthen the culture of critical reflection, research and other evidence which informs all aspects of learning and scholarship.

Operationalising Principles 2010-2015

16. At the heart of the LTQES is the belief that the University of Stirling is producing graduates who are equipped to cope with the complexities of life and work in the 21st century. To that end we believe that the Stirling Graduate should posses the following Graduate Attributes:

Knowledgeable and Skilled within and between the Discipline(s).

  • Possess a breadth of knowledge derived from engagement with several subject areas;
  • Have a command of an appropriate body of knowledge in their chosen discipline(s), encompassing understanding and application of key concepts and techniques together with the necessary skills to do so effectively;
  • Possess Information handling skills to seek, evaluate, manipulate and present data using appropriate technologies;
  • Understand how to frame and re-frame research questions.

Critical and Intellectually Curious Thinkers

  • Possess critical, analytical and problem-solving abilities;
  • Be self reflective, research minded and intellectually curious;
  • Possess a capacity for systematic enquiry and independent thought;
  • Possess the skills and attitudes required for a lifetime of independent learning, personal and professional development.


  • Possess individual initiative, be confident, have self esteem and the ability to cope with change;
  • Possess the quality of being an employable graduate, be professional competent and demonstrate ethical practice;
  • Empowered by the Stirling Experience to reach their full potential, ‘be all they can be’;
  • Have the option to experience networking with Stirling Alumni and others.

Active Global and Local Citizens

  • Posses awareness of, and demonstrate sensitivity towards social, cultural and global diversity;
  • Community minded both at local and international levels;
  • Access to a diverse range of international researchers and scholars.

17. The momentum from the previous Strategy will continue but a particular focus will be given to the following themes for the period 2010-2015:

  • Ensuring that quality of learning and teaching remains an important principle;
  • Research-Teaching linkages;
  • Employability;
  • Managing the transition to higher education;
  • International and community experience;
  • Accessibility, equality and inclusion.

The themes are not wholly exclusive to each of the three key areas underpinning the LTQES for 2010-2015. However they do add value and reflect priorities for action throughout this next phase of development.

Part 5: Student Experience


18. We have a large and diverse student population, and we acknowledge that while many of our students do study full-time and live on campus, many also work in paid jobs to support their studies. Others study part-time in addition to full-time employment, live and study off-campus and/or in the workplace. We are committed to providing a rich and challenging educational environment for all of our students.

19. This theme is about preparing Stirling graduates for the world of work (not just first employment but equipping them with the higher level skills for multiple careers during their working life). It relates to both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of provision and it acknowledges that research skills, professionally accredited degrees and opportunities for continuing professional development will continue to form significant facets of provision:

  • The development of research skills, research activity which will be further embedded across both undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum, emphasising the development of Stirling graduate attributes.
  • Stirling undergraduate and taught postgraduates will have opportunities within the curriculum to develop and enhance their employability skills, for example, presenting assignments coherently (orally, textually and electronically), working to targets and to time limits, and developing the Stirling graduate attributes.
  • Stirling students will have the opportunity to enhance their employability skills by engagement with, for example:-
Experience of being a programme representative;
Participation in Student Buddy Network;
Study abroad programmes;
Work placements;
Volunteering for work in the community.
  • The University will give recognition, including academic accreditation where appropriate to students learning outside the formal curriculum and encapsulate a holistic record of achievement or student record of achievement for all students (i.e. HEAR).
  • Stirling undergraduates will have the opportunity to take up an embedded supported (by a member of academic staff) Personal Development Plan (PDP) in first year of study.

Managing the Transition into the University of Stirling

20. This theme relates to support for all students on first entry to University. Part of this activity focuses upon those coming from any area that the University has identified as part of its widening participation agenda. It will support though the provision of broader articulation agreements and increase both the quality and quantity of students from both local and targeted colleges. It also aims to capitalise upon increasing the levels of transition into post-graduate activity and managing any specific transition requirements brought about by advanced entry provision and international students. It will ensure that students are carefully prepared for undergraduate study.

  • The University will continue to develop and enhance its induction process for all students on first entry, particularly in the area of academic skills.
  • Develop and enhance links and transition into Stirling from local and specialist niche FE providers.
  • Each Academic Department to be set a target for the academic session covered by the strategy for recruiting an agreed number of students from an FE background. A particular view will be to enhance transition into years two and three.
  • Development of a programme of activities (funded through South East Forum) to target specific ‘low participation’ schools in greater Stirling area with view to recruiting more students from these schools.
  • Set up a monitoring process to track all students upon admission through the Stirling experience to ensure that their needs are being met.
  • To review provision of support for all students making the transition into HE – e.g. provision of self help materials on-line, use of a social networking site for support, further development of the peer mentoring scheme (STEER project), increased communication to ensure staff awareness of mentoring.
  • Monitor student retention and put in place appropriate and proportionate interventions to assist increasing it.
  • Review the infrastructure in place to support students against the outcomes of the SHEEC International Benchmarking Exercise on Student Support Services.

Accessibility, equality and inclusion

21. The University will develop and implement a Single Equality Scheme during the planning period and the objective will be to ensure that the University’s curricula and arrangements for learning, teaching and assessment actively promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

22. To achieve this outcome we will embed the principles of equality and diversity into the delivery of this strategy and accompanying actions.

Part 6: Quality Enhancement

Research-Teaching Linkages

23. Developing excellence in learning and teaching in a research-led institution necessitates quality research-teaching linkages. The aim in this theme is to strengthen and enhance the links between research and teaching, through teaching that is research led, research oriented, research based and research informed. This is crucial as a defining characteristic of the Stirling 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.

24. The Stirling Learning Experience uses both the expertise and knowledge of staff together with the associated ‘research skills’ to support and enhance student learning through the development of key inquiry and analytical and collaborative skills.

25. Research culture, new directions and research outputs should continue to be firmly embedded in the delivery of teaching and learning in each department, and indeed, in the teaching experience.

26. Each department is asked to:

  • Draw up a clear plan for the further development of the links between research and teaching in all programmes of study over the duration of the programme e.g. Year 1 – experience of inquiry as a way of learning with peer assessment as a key component of the experience. Year 2 – introduction to the research methodologies that underpin the area of study. Year 3 – small scale use of the research methodologies in learning the academic subject. Year 4 - a capstone experience - first hand experience of research methodologies normally through a dissertation or extended project work.
  • Carry out an impact assessment of the effect of introducing more explicit links between research and teaching on the student learning experience.
  • Promote the implementation of flexible approaches of study that might include blended learning. This could include different forms of learning, such as face to face and VLE enabled, but which utilise new technologies and more easily accessible primary and secondary information sources that provide students with opportunities to engage deeply with their subject, to learn at their own pace and undertake self-assessment including summative online assessment.
  • Ensure that useful developments in learning are disseminated and where appropriate implemented across all campuses.

International and Community Experience

27. This theme is concerned with the aim that the Stirling experience of learning and teaching should be an international one for all. The strategy will seek to increase the number of students on international exchange programmes. Opportunities for students to work with international the local communities will be increased.

28. The University is committed to offer a student support service which at a minimum matches those of our competitor institutions, particularly in the area of language support. Links would be made to the QAA enhancement Theme work on benchmarking the Student Support Services; A benchmark report comparing Stirling’s student support services to that of our competitor institutions is required.

29. The Stirling portfolio of programmes of study should be reviewed to ensure that it is attractive and relevant to all students including international students both at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level:

  • The curriculum for all programmes should be reviewed to ensure that it reflects an international student cohort.
  • To include new opportunities that arise out of the internationalisation strategy and in particular targeted opportunities for trans-national in country provision.
  • The principles of equality and diversity shall be embedded in the design of all modules and content.
  • Programme proposal forms should include a section where the Department is required to state that they have considered the design of the programme in order to attract international as well as home-based students.
  • All undergraduate programmes should aim to recruit an agreed number of ‘on-campus’ full time international students each year, where appropriate.
  • All ‘home’ students should be encouraged to participate in international exchange programmes e.g. Erasmus, Socrates.
  • Increase the unregulated postgraduate taught provision (every department to have a target number of their postgraduate taught population as non-Home/EU students).
  • All Students will be encouraged to participate in community placement activities, clubs and societies, programme representation, and student mentoring.

Part 7: Quality Assurance

30. The University strives for continuous improvement of its quality assurance procedures. The University places considerable importance on student participation in its quality assurance processes. It has a well established system for internal monitoring and review. The quality assurance process takes due cognisance of key external reference points and public information on quality assurance.

Over the period covered by this strategy, we will undertake to:

  • Invest in teaching excellence through attracting, retaining and developing and rewarding excellent teachers and support staff;
  • Ensure that internal quality assurance mechanisms and programme structures are informed by relevant international quality agencies, credit and qualifications frameworks and are efficient and meaningful;
  • Ensure that all internal quality assurance mechanisms collect appropriate data to monitor the implementation of the LTQES;
  • Provide high quality applied programmes of educational staff development through the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning;
  • Ensure that policies and procedures are informed by appropriate educational research.

Part 8: Targets

  • To achieve the targets outlined in Part One of the Learning and Teaching Quality Enhancement Strategy for 2010-2015.

Action Plans 2010-15

Action plans for the period 2010-15 accessible below:

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