Our Strategy 2015-2018

Director’s introduction

This strategy sets out Ravensbourne’s key priorities for the three years ahead to 2018. It has been developed by our entire community, and expresses the values and vision that our students, staff, graduates and external stakeholders have articulated during the development process.

1. Our recent history

Our previous strategy gave Ravensbourne a new, prominent position in a purpose-built site on the River Thames in the London Borough of Greenwich. Since moving to Greenwich in 2010:

  • We have demonstrated our world-leading status through the QS rankings, where Ravensbourne was placed the 27th best institution for art and design world-wide (9th in Europe and 6th in the UK).
  • Demand for Ravensbourne’s higher and further education programmes has grown substantially, and we have expanded to meet it.
  • Graduate employability and entrepreneurship have flourished at the centre of our curriculum, with strong industry links underpinning our academic courses and excellent graduate employment rates (more than 95% of our 2014 graduates were in work or further study within a year of graduating).
  • Ravensbourne’s student community has become more reflective of its locality, providing opportunities for social mobility and diversity in the creative industries.
  • We have oriented our academic and strategic partnerships around emerging practices and skills-needs in the creative and digital industries, and grown our applied research partnerships and incubation services which support for our own graduates’ start-ups.
  • We have been at the forefront of pedagogic and collaborative innovation for creative education and technology-enhanced learning.
  • We have developed an applied research infrastructure.
  • We have completed international business projects.
  • We have built a digital skills profile through a series of ERDF-funded projects supporting our incubator and introducing emerging technologies to businesses (eg EDs and Wearables)
  • We re-located and rebranded by September 2010 and gained much national and international positioning from the Olympics
  • We have developed a carbon reduction policy for the building 

2. Our challenges in the future

A number of challenges will face Ravensbourne over the period ahead:

  • Adjustments in public funding will continue to affect higher and further education.
  • The lifting of the cap on student numbers in September 2015 will mean increased competition for excellent students.
  • Policy-makers and funders will emphasise new forms of skills-provision (including apprenticeships and shorter courses) over traditional higher education.
  • Our single-building campus means that we must plan carefully our student numbers, building use and teaching model.
  • To ensure a sustainable future, we will need to maintain and attract staff who can combine teaching, research and practice whilst also contributing to Ravensbourne’s aspirations for enhanced knowledge exchange and commercial activities.
  • More providers are competing in Ravensbourne’s academic specialisms, and delivering in new ways.
  • The resource implications of keeping pace with innovation and technological change in the dynamic and changing creative and digital industries will continue to challenge our budgets.
  • School reforms will push art and design to the margins of the pre-HE curriculum and add further to the increasing demands on student support.
  • Government immigration policies will impact our international student recruitment strategy.

3. Our strategy development: an engaged process

Our whole community has been engaged the development of this strategy; it is a process that has had the full, active and facilitative engagement of Ravensbourne’s wider community from the outset. Governors have been involved through the Executive Team-Board of Governors away-day on 22 April, while the Executive Team and Senior Management Team (SMT) have been fully engaged throughout the process, and all staff and students have had the opportunity to contribute through a series of workshops and number of feedback mechanisms. External, industry and local government partners have also been consulted, so that the strategy presented here reflects the aspirations, and represents the views, of those closest to Ravensbourne. At the same time, SMT and the Project Team have benchmarked the emerging strategy against those of competitor institutions in the HE sector, thus ensuring this document can stand well alongside the aspirations of Ravensbourne’s peers.

4. Our ambition and our realism

Alongside the engagement process, the development of strategic objectives has been informed by an analysis of Ravensbourne’s size, shape and finances, as well as external funding prospects. In drafting this strategy, we have attempted to balance ambition with realism and, in so doing, have chosen to look in detail three years ahead while at the same time keeping a longer term horizon in mind. Early scenarios demonstrated that Ravensbourne needs to grow its core numbers to remain sustainable and this is reflected in the strategic objectives. A range of scenarios were explored, ranging from dramatic expansion to more modest growth, and the agreed target of between 2,500 and 2,700 students is identified as being the most realistic and sustainable if Ravensbourne is to invest appropriately in staffing and infrastructure such that the student experience is improved alongside growth.

Alongside this story of managed growth, there are commercial ambitions, emerging industry trends, new models of educational delivery (such as apprenticeships), and a new partnerships strategy.

This new strategy provides the basis for a financially sustainable business model that will meet the needs of our students, staff and external partners, and equip Ravensbourne to thrive and grow over the longer term. As well as our shorter-term aims, the document refers to longer term aspirations and aims to position Ravensbourne so that further growth across education, commercial activity and research are realistic and achievable beyond 2018.

5. Our plan for implementation

The document presented here begins with Ravensbourne’s vision, followed by an articulation of the mission as the vehicle by which this will be achieved. The values on which the college’s activities are based follows this, along with a description of the four key strategic aims for the 2015 to 2018 period. Each aim is supported by a number of objectives, with progress against these being assessed against the measures identified in the same section.

The strategy presented here is only a distillation of the thoughts, images, words and ideas of the people that have been involved in its development, however. While the document sets out Ravensbourne’s vision, values and direction for the period ahead at a high level, the process of engaging the institution in its development has enabled staff to think in detail about what actions, structures and processes are needed to deliver the strategy. The consultation process has provided the college with a coherent set of material to inform the development of the implementation plan, and a summary is included as Annexe 1. A more detailed operational plan will be developed following Board of Governors approval of the strategy. 

Professor Linda Drew
11 June 2015

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