Our priorities and what they are built on
Our priorities reflect our mission. They are rooted in our commitment to the difference we make. Supporting aspiration, creating opportunities, delivering impact.
Together we have set four key priorities to take us from the present to the year 2027: our staff, our students’ experience, teaching and learning and research.
- Our staff are our greatest asset. We want colleagues to be proud to work at the University of Northampton and know that the University is proud of them. We will showcase excellence and success and provide opportunities for development.
- In a competitive job market, our employment offer will attract and retain talent by creating an inclusive community, reinforcing collegiality and dedication to staff wellbeing.
- Culture is important, and we understand that an environment which allows our staff to be at their best is essential. We are committed to listening and working in partnership to make this happen.
- We will evaluate our colleagues’ experience through surveys and data collection which are sensitive to people’s time. We aim to ensure that staff are confident they are valued by the University and their health and wellbeing is of paramount importance.
By 2027, we will:
Support a culture of excellence in all our work by:
- Developing our People Strategy, outlining our plans and ambitions for attracting, developing, engaging and retaining our staff.
- Improving the staff lifecycle from application and onboarding, through career progression.
- Improving staff development, recognising varied trajectories through which they may progress their career.
Develop our support for health and wellbeing by:
- Relieve administrative pressures staff face and allow them to focus on objectives.
- Continue our work to codify and balance workloads for all categories of staff to ensure equity.
- Enhance childcare and sports facilities on campus.
Build an inclusive working environment by:
- Develop, implement and embed the University’s first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
- Recognise the diversity of our staff body, their circumstances and their needs, and continue work around how we can best support this for everyone’s benefit.
- Studying at the University of Northampton will be a transformative experience that creates opportunities for our students. During their time at the University our students develop academically, as well as socially. They develop their social capital, their confidence in facing challenges, and the full set of skills they will need after graduation. Students are encouraged to have high expectations of themselves, in an environment that enables all to succeed.
- We will achieve the best possible student experience by fostering a culture of collaboration with students. We will capture the student voice and feedback combined with other forms of evidence and data to adapt and improve our students’ experiences of studying at the University.
- We will work with key stakeholders to make Northampton a compelling destination where our students can expand their knowledge and horizons and add to the rich network of relationships and connections in the wider world.
- We are committed to access, participation and student success. The individuals who make up our student community represent a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances. We will ensure that all our students have an excellent experience, whether they study on campus, remotely, or at one of our partner institutions.
- We want university life to be enjoyable and successful for all our students. We will develop our student accommodation on and near our campus to benefit study, belonging, wellbeing and social activities.
- Evaluation of our students’ feedback to understand our strengths and weaknesses is vital. We will utilise data from the National Student Survey (NSS), Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), to conduct our own surveys as appropriate, and take action based on their insights to drive improvements.
By 2027, we will:
Develop dialogue and co-creation with students by:
- Creating a shared agenda for student experience with the Students’ Union, agreeing a clear mandate for each side.
- Building an environment in which students can develop ideas and initiatives themselves, including student societies and opportunities to engage with our local communities.
- Working with local stakeholders to develop a town-wide student accommodation strategy and develop our accommodation portfolio to offer as many students as possible high-quality, affordable accommodation on or near campus.
Build an inclusive environment and sense of belonging by:
- Optimising the enrolment and orientation processes to be inclusive of and engaging with all students.
- Working with local stakeholders to develop the town centre of Northampton to be more student-friendly, with associated benefits for the whole community.
- Making the digital experience equivalent to the onsite experience for learning and community.
- Constructing modes of attendance and personalised timetables that meet as far as possible the diversity of our students’ needs.
Develop our support for health and wellbeing by:
- Ensure specific support for groups with particular needs, such as international students.
- Develop on-campus social and sports facilities that reflect the diversity of our students and their needs, including outside core working hours.
- Our approach will always be led by the question: “what will our students need when they graduate?
- This question will inform our ongoing development of excellent pedagogy for a rounded set of graduate attributes, covering knowledge, transferrable skills and engagement with social and global challenges.
- Our methodology is based around active learning in small groups, making the most of digital platforms and tools and focusing on interactions which make the biggest difference to learning. We will continue to refine this to reflect the diversity of our students’ learning and foster belonging to a truly inclusive learning community.
- Our pedagogy will be research-informed, and will support students to undertake their own research, developing these skills from the start of their degree. It will be inspiring, inclusive and accessible, and will include authentic and stretching assessments and real-world learning experiences oriented towards employability.
- Our portfolio will respond to changing social and economic dynamics, national priorities, engagement with employers and other partners and – crucially – the voice of our students. We will explore initiatives such as apprenticeship models, the Lifelong Learning Entitlement, active distance learning and the possibilities of extended reality and artificial intelligence.
- We will ensure all our teaching staff feel supported in their work and will offer learning and teaching career pathways with parity to research pathways. Our teachers will build practice as a community, reflect the dynamic nature of our education and fuse expertise from academic, industry and practitioner backgrounds.
- We will continue to target Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework as an objective measure of success. We will also achieve improvements in the percentage of our undergraduate students continuing into the second year of their degree, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, through innovative approaches to students’ learning outcomes.
By 2027, we will:
Develop a truly inclusive academic community of staff and students that co-creates learning at the University by:
- Overcoming award gaps between those groups identified in the Access and Participation Plan.
- Develop active blended learning for subject, level and student experience.
- Develop interdisciplinarity across the portfolio to support integrative approaches for our students.
Innovate and develop our methodology and practice by:
- Celebrating, rewarding and disseminating excellent practice in learning and teaching.
- Introducing more flexible learning models, including those available via the Lifelong Learning Entitlement.
- Embedding a negotiated learning and assessment model.
- Operationalising the JISC digital transformation framework for learning and teaching.
Strengthen the supportive environment for students to thrive by:
- Developing the role of the Personal Academic Tutor within a strengthened Integrated Learner Support offering.
- Developing placements/Real World Learning including authentic assessments, in all programmes.
- Research is integral to what we do and who we are as a university. We aim to be a truly research-based institution – one in which excellence is embedded, and contributes to learning and teaching, knowledge exchange, social impact, enterprise and innovation while we respond to the priorities of our communities.
- We already have areas of strength in our research. We will build on these to develop a consistent profile of quality that is recognised inside and outside of the University, supporting interdisciplinary and collaborative work with other organisations where we can. We will engage in research that tackles regional, national and global challenges, and delivers meaningful and significant impact for the communities we serve.
- Our research environment and culture will reflect and support the diverse activities and expertise of all our staff. We will strive for operational excellence in processes, systems and support that underpin our research. This includes a commitment to recognise time for research-related activity, to develop and support our staff and student ambitions and to create an environment that will attract and retain talented researchers.
- We believe that having ambitious goals around research can and will enrich student experience. We will cultivate and codify links from research to learning and teaching, developing priority themes across the two.
- We will build towards the next national research exercise, aiming for ambitious increases in the quality of our outputs. In the intervening years, we will track our progress through internal peer review and evaluation.
By 2027, we will:
Develop a research environment and culture that prioritise quality by:
- Aligning our research to meet regional, national and international priorities.
- Strive for operational excellence in terms of research support and our systems and processes.
- Target investment at areas with a strong case for strategic development, supporting interdisciplinary centres of excellence and collaboration where we can.
Create a culture of research by:
- Codifying workload planning to ensure that time allocated for research is consistent and ringfenced.
- Enhancing support for career progression pathways linked to research, including for staff from professional backgrounds.
- Broadening and deepening our partnerships with other organisations as key enablers of social impact, innovation and enterprise.
Embed stronger mechanisms to support and capture our impact by:
- Increasing the numbers of and support for PGR students, post docs and early career researchers.
- Striving to make it possible for more of our staff to engage in research and contribute to our research profile as an institution.