University of St Andrews Strategy 2018-2023

1. Introduction

1.1. The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s first university. It stands for research and teaching of the highest quality and the pursuit of knowledge for the common good.

1.2. Our fundamental goal is to attract and nurture the best staff and the most promising students from around the world, and provide an environment in which they can produce their best work for maximum societal benefit.   

1.3. We aim to make the St Andrews experience unique, to differentiate this University from all others, to be a beacon for diversity and social responsibility, and to pursue the most effective ways to make a St Andrews education accessible to all who may benefit from it.

1.4. We are independent and committed to defending the rights of the academy to pursue research to the highest standards of scholarship, to make public its findings, and to speak truth to power as it sees fit. 

1.5. We are one of the world’s most ancient universities, but we strive to be amongst the most modern and innovative. We have survived and flourished over six centuries because we are outward looking, international, and European; we will go on being so.

1.6. As a Scottish university, we have become a substantial contributor to the economic, intellectual, cultural, and social wealth of our country and our wider communities; we recognise that with this come both opportunities and obligations.   

1.7. St Andrews’ future success now relies on bold choices, and on positioning ourselves with confidence and conviction in a rapidly changing world. It is our aim to improve significantly our standing amongst the top universities of the world.

1.8. In this five-year Strategy we set out how we will act on our core qualities and key ambitions to grow in size, scale, and impact, and to consolidate our strengths. We will do this in ways which respect and support our people, our values, and our environment. This Strategy expresses our ambitions across four distinct but equally important themes: World-Leading St Andrews, Diverse St Andrews, Global St Andrews, Entrepreneurial St Andrews.

1.9. It takes full account of the geo-political context in which we now operate – the dismantling of traditional alliances, Brexit, the pace and scale of growth in international competition in higher education, the advancement of technology, and the requirement for successful global institutions to focus on quality, sustainability, and partnership.

2. University Social Responsibility

2.1. In implementing our strategic plan, we will act ethically, transparently, sustainably, and for the wider public benefit at all times. This broad commitment to social responsibility and sustainability will shape our policies, practices, and respect for our environment. We will involve our students, staff, trade unions, alumni, partners, suppliers, and our wider communities in developing and delivering the actions and strategies required to embed this in our day to day activities.

2.2. We believe that social responsibility is a deep-woven thread which already runs through much of what we do, but we acknowledge that this is the first time in six centuries that the University of St Andrews will visibly place social responsibility at the heart of its strategic plan.

2.3. With our students and staff we will:

  • Support the right of our staff and students to freedom of expression, and encourage an understanding of the responsibility that accompanies this right;
  • Defend the principle of academic freedom for all staff in their teaching and research;
  • Expect that our staff and students will at all times observe a culture of tolerance, respect, kindness, and courtesy towards each other, and to our broader communities;
  • Follow and contribute to best practice in the pursuit of greater equality and diversity;
  • Demonstrate how we are able to invest in our staff, and ensure our staff are closely involved in planning the prioritisation of resources;
  • Involve our students at the heart of University governance and decision-making;
  • Nurture a culture of civic engagement and volunteering in our staff and students, connected where relevant to our alumni and international commitments;
  • Ensure that University funds are invested in a socially responsible manner.

2.4. With our community – local, national, and international – we will:

  • Recognise that our day-to-day activities and plans for growth have a profound impact locally. This Scottish town has been our home for over 600 years and it is integral to our appeal to prospective students and staff;
  • Ensure all project boards, planning discussions, and activities are ‘community-aware’;
  • Communicate promptly and transparently with our neighbours, stakeholders and partners, listen to ideas, and be willing to adapt where there is evidence that we can improve our proposals and practices;
  • Engage our alumni locally, nationally, and internationally, and encourage their many kinds of commitment;
  • Make our research findings widely available for local, national, and global benefit;
  • Develop our cultural assets and activities in ways that engage our community while also supporting the core mission of the University;
  • Consume ‘more of our own smoke’ – ensure wherever possible that the provision of services to students and staff has a wider positive impact on the broader population of St Andrews, especially the provision of new student accommodation to lessen the demand on private housing in St Andrews and North-East Fife, currently one of the most pressured housing areas in the UK.

2.5. With our suppliers we will:

  • Work with businesses whose principles and commitments to the environment and sustainability align with our own;
  • Work with local businesses wherever possible, and consider the impacts of our growth and activities on the sustainability of businesses in St Andrews, Fife, and further afield;
  • Operate rigorous accounting standards, pay our dues timeously, and ensure our interactions with suppliers are transparent and courteous.

2.6. In relation to the environment we will:

  • Espouse policies that improve rather than impoverish our environment;
  • Build upon our environmental leadership to ensure our students graduate with a clear sense of their environmental responsibilities as global citizens;
  • Vigorously pursue a programme of carbon reduction and efficient use of heat and water resources across our estate, and embed a culture of deep-seated institutional commitment to sustainable practice and policy;
  • Acknowledge that we cannot pick and choose the size of our carbon footprint. Our recruitment policies and the strong demand for places amongst overseas students mean our business model is heavily dependent on burning aviation fuel, and as such the University is a contributor to global carbon production;
  • Develop our own alternative energy sources, including biomass and solar, to reduce carbon emissions and decrease our reliance on external providers and the fossil fuel industry, with a view to becoming carbon neutral for our energy.

3. World-leading St Andrews

3.1. We are a small institution renowned for the quality and impact of both our research and our teaching. These activities are at the heart of what we do, and the fact that we connect them so strongly is fundamental to our global reputation. ‘World-leading St Andrews’ is both a distinction and a perpetual challenge and we must act strategically to deliver on the ambition that accompanies our continuing success. Our aim over the next five years is to build the number of areas in which we are unequivocally identified as world-leading. This will form the foundation on which we can deliver sustained achievement in a range of core subjects, and the multi-disciplinary work which will often be needed to take us to the next level of academic standing.

3.2. The unique St Andrews experience derives not only from our historical and geographical location but also from our highly international community of staff and students and their quest for the advancement of knowledge. Enriching that experience means investing in our people and our environment. Nurturing the St Andrews experience will be part of our planned growth to 10,000 students by 2025, supporting a community of broadly 80% undergraduate and 20% postgraduate students. Such growth will require investment into an estate strategy across our four principal sites: the town centre, North Haugh, East Sands, and the Eden Campus. As we build and modernise space to accommodate planned growth, we will recognise the new styles of learning and working, and the role of digital technologies which lead to increased creativity, productivity, and collaboration. We will invest in a range of diverse facilities and technologies, and ‘smart working’.

3.3. Despite our relatively small size, we have the scale to make significant contributions to national priorities in areas such as the blue economy, advanced materials and photonics, health and the digital economy, and policy development. We recognise too the importance of investing in our ability to utilise information derived from data, where we are building notable expertise. Our great strength as a university also lies in our contributions to the humanities and to cultural understanding, where the work of our staff and our students has the capacity to shape values and ways of seeing across the world. We believe as abidingly in the importance to societies of – for example - philosophy, literature, history, and music as we do in the importance of the social, physical, and life sciences and of medicine. We also believe strongly in the interactions that are possible across all these subjects. They do not compete; they co-habit, collaborate, and on occasion cohere.

3.4. Many of our 19 academic Schools are already at the forefront of their disciplines; others will be encouraged to develop their focus and standing in areas where they have the potential to become world-leading. We will work with all Schools to grow the capacity and academic leadership that can shape the future of their subjects in St Andrews, and we will support choices that strategically strengthen Schools and their position in important exercises such as the Research Excellence Framework. Where they demonstrably speak to our identity, we will also encourage the development of new areas of research activity, study, and impact.

3.5. Beyond our core subjects, our academic community has identified capacity and willingness to engage in six priority areas for collaborative working across disciplines. These areas will enable us to create platforms for our research strengths in a changing world: Peace, Conflict and Security; Cultural Understanding; Evolution, Behaviour, and Environment; Materials for the Modern World; Health, Infectious Disease, and Wellbeing; and Sustainability.

3.6. Our small-group, high-quality teaching rests on partnership and dialogue between teachers and students, making the education we offer at St Andrews unique and prized. It enables us to attract students and staff of exceptional ability, and encourages every individual to make their mark by being the best they can. We will continue to enrich our teaching, and will support innovations and technologies that reinforce quality. 

3.7. We acknowledge, and indeed welcome, that the learning and teaching environment will not be static over the next ten years. As the spheres of education and work intersect dynamically across the world, institutions must be flexible in how they deliver teaching to an increasingly mobile workforce and within a growing context of lifelong education. We believe very strongly in the value of the ‘traditional’ degree. Alongside this, we will also develop different types of teaching enhanced by emergent technologies, both in St Andrews and on-line, that offer our own form of world-class experience to those learners at undergraduate and postgraduate level who have different needs.

3.8. The redevelopment of the Madras site in the town centre provides an outstanding opportunity to create and improve our set of physical spaces to encourage intellectual innovation at the frontiers of disciplines, and enhance our capacity for knowledge sharing and innovative teaching. 

3.9. We recognise that a physical library and materially rich collections are vital for research and learning in St Andrews. Our plans for their development will also consider opportunities presented by digitisation and new technologies; this includes our commitment to making our research results as openly available as possible for the benefit of all.

3.10. A major philanthropic campaign, with our alumni at its heart, will underpin our ambitions as a world-leading institution planning for the next generation of students and academics. The campaign will contribute towards funding big ideas, scholarships, impactful research, buildings, and our endowment. 

3.11 World-leading St Andrews will:

  • Be innovative in our approach to supporting teaching, research, outreach, and impact;
  • Promote areas of world-leading research that provide international leadership, engage with big societal questions, have the highest level of integrity, and the potential to resonate externally;
  • Intersect with Global St Andrews and Entrepreneurial St Andrews to bring through new areas for research and teaching where they demonstrate the capacity to add value at an outstanding level;
  • Promote working across disciplines and interdisciplinarity in our priority areas;
  • Invest in degree-level teaching so that it retains its high quality and is centred on research-led content,  a positive learning environment, and direct engagement with our students;
  • Look ahead to deliver teaching that also responds to changed needs in life-long learning, professional education, skills, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability.

3.12. We will deliver this by:

  • Linking effectively with developments within Diverse  St Andrews to grow leadership and develop talent;
  • Adopting an estate strategy that takes up the opportunities created by the development of the Madras site and the Eden Campus, together with the refurbishment of buildings and facilities,  to maximise attractive and flexible space across the whole of the University’s operations;
  • Developing an approach to collections that maximises its support for our scholarship and engagement;
  • Developing a digital strategy that enables the realisation of our ambitions through utilising opportunities presented by rapidly evolving technologies;
  • Strategically investing in the individual and collaborative work of the University’s centres and institutes;
  • Taking forward the development of interdisciplinary programmes at graduate level through the University’s Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies.

3.13. The progress of World-leading St Andrews will be indicated by:

  • Sustained high standards and ambition within a high-quality environment;
  • The proportion of significant roles in influential organisations;
  • An increase in partnerships with organisations seeking expertise and graduates;
  • The quality of the partners we form relationships with;
  • The number of disciplines in which we are distinctive and globally recognised.

3.14. Fundamental investment requirements:

  • Co-investment to enable the best research and translation work and to maximise impact, with the expectation that externally secured funding for our research should cover a substantial percentage of the full cost;
  • Estate development to enable our community to do their best work;
  • Development of interdisciplinary initiatives in line with our strategic objectives;
  • Attracting and retaining people with the capacity to make a significant contribution to St Andrews.

4. Diverse St Andrews

4.1. Diversity and inclusion should be at the heart of the St Andrews experience, and should inform all that we do.  As a truly international and world-class university, our ambition is to be a beacon of inclusivity. We will achieve this through an approach that empowers our whole community – through a combination of deliberate steps sponsored by the University’s leadership, and a determined shift in culture that embraces everyone, from students, academic and professional staff, to our alumni. Inclusivity will inform and affect policy and practice across the piece. There is evidence that shows that diverse organisations work smarter, encourage innovation, and maximise the creativity that is fundamental to academic excellence. Our approach to diversity and inclusion will therefore foster an environment that enables staff and students to engage with intellectual challenges while realising their own potential.

4.2. Inclusion also means broader engagement in more diverse and balanced leadership. We aim to develop a culture of emergent leadership that spans all levels of experience and background, and includes students and academic and professional services staff. We believe in drawing out ability and encouraging those with the capacity to motivate and guide the institution to have the opportunity to do so. We will provide the structures and mechanisms that encourage students and staff to develop their potential through support, training, and mentoring, based on the values of openness, fairness, and inclusion. 

4.3. We will actively engage in national agendas, including government initiatives on widening access, while taking a perspective that is more ambitious. We believe that equality and excellence are entirely compatible and we aim to attract those who can flourish at St Andrews from around the world regardless of their age or background.

4.4. The progress that we need to make in relation to gender balance at various staff grades, in terms of the pay gap, and in our student community in some subject areas, will receive strategic focus.

4.5. We will engage with parents, carers, and part-time staff to ensure that their career paths are treated with fairness and flexibility.

4.6. We acknowledge as an institution that a priority for us in the next phase must be greater racial and ethnic diversity. We will seek to address the experience of people from black and ethnic minority communities at all levels of the University, in order to make meaningful interventions in respect of recruitment, representation, and curriculum reform. As a global university, we will assume a more active position towards academics at risk and children of refugees.

4.7. We recognise that mental health challenges affect the well-being of staff and students and will extend our capacity for support while building a culture of care, tolerance, and resilience.   We will proactively address provision for staff and students with disabilities in our policies and in our estate.

4.8. Intersectionality is a key aspect of inclusivity, and we will encourage projects across our community that speak to the experience of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, our LGBTQ+ staff and students, our staff and students with disabilities, and to individual faiths and philosophies of life.

4.9. We will continue to build on the institution-wide activities that supported our 2018 institutional bronze Athena SWAN award and created a belief in change amongst both staff and students, and a palpable shift in culture. It is only through a consultative and inclusive approach that we can bring about lasting cultural change. With this in mind, we will develop a People Strategy that will set the framework for how we develop the University as a single community with a shared purpose. We will take a whole-university approach to growing capability and instilling ownership and pride.

4.10. Diverse St Andrews will:

  • Enable the University of St Andrews to be identified in the next decade as an institution that is inclusive, inspirational, and incentivised to go on being so;
  • Embed the structures that let students and staff develop their potential, in energising rather than bureaucratic ways;
  • Work strategically to remove the gender pay gap;
  • Improve provision for disabled staff and students, and involve all staff and students in so doing;
  • Give focus to intersectionality and the promotion of a strongly diverse community;
  • Develop a reward structure that values sustained commitment to diversity, inclusivity, fairness, and social responsibility.

4.11. We will deliver this by:

  • Giving explicit attention to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion within the University’s leadership structures;
  • Setting up and supporting the work of a cross-institutional group with senior management leadership to develop a People Strategy;
  • Incentivising leadership and investing in training and mentoring to develop leadership potential across the whole University community;
  • Taking forward the ambitious agenda set out in our Equality Outcomes statement and supporting its action plan;
  • Working closely with our recognised trade unions to address issues, including the gender pay gap and the appropriate use of flexible contracts;
  • Successfully attaining the Race Equality Charter mark.

4.12. The progress of Diverse St Andrews will be indicated by:

  • Enhanced diversity of our staff and students;
  • A growing pipeline of leadership and expertise among our community of staff, students, and alumni;
  • Greater well-being and levels of resilience amongst staff and students;
  • Reviewed policies, processes, and materials that incentivise and support the objectives of Diverse St Andrews.

4.13. Fundamental investment requirements:

  • Targeted support to maintain and where possible increase the diversity of the student body;
  • Development of strategic leadership;
  • Coordinated training programmes to develop diverse talent.

5. Global St Andrews

5.1. St Andrews is a Scottish university with a global orientation rooted in European traditions. Our demographic profile is highly distinctive with over 45% of our students and staff coming from outside the UK. We are proud that the University is ranked among the top universities in the world for its international outlook; we are determined to maintain and extend this element of our identity.

5.2. Competition is increasing, with universities around the world making substantial investments in their global activities. Alliances and partnerships between universities and between universities and other stakeholders are quickly solidifying. As a sector leader in international engagement, we will develop strategic partnerships, as we consolidate our own position to achieve still more. 

5.3. Global St Andrews will play a key role in bringing together staff, students, alumni, and other stakeholders to contribute to the broad range of our international activities, promoting our global brand, and developing our engagement worldwide. We will draw staff and students from across the world to visit and work with us because of our welcoming and cosmopolitan scholarly community. Engaging strategically, we will promote and build the value of the St Andrews experience through work with partners and alumni worldwide. 

5.4. Global St Andrews will have strong academic values at its core, will operate with flexibility to frame activities in ways that respond to global trends, underpin our research and teaching endeavour, and recognise the need to support the economic growth and well-being of developing countries. Global St Andrews will use strategic drivers and key objectives to prioritise and focus development and engagement in active and emergent markets.

5.5. In line with our academic priorities, we will develop and support high-quality and innovative short programmes and summer schools under the Global St Andrews brand. These programmes will draw on academic expertise from across the University and (in addition to income generation) will be an important tool for student recruitment, mobility, and strengthening institutional partnerships.

5.6. Global St Andrews will act as a platform for supporting students and staff in realising their career ambitions internationally. We will work to secure access to career-related opportunities and a rich array of internship and study abroad options by working with alumni and partners across the world.

5.7. Global St Andrews will:

  • Develop the scale, quality, and value of the University’s international networks;
  • Provide coordinated support and frameworks for staff leading on collaboration, international research, and curriculum development;
  • Enhance our academic activities and recruitment in existing markets such as Europe and North America, and in emerging markets such as China and India;
  • Provide an incubator for emerging initiatives that respond to global trends;
  • Provide a welcoming gateway for the world to come to St Andrews;
  • Enable further access to opportunities globally for students and staff.

5.8. We will deliver this by:

  • An internationalisation strategy which will respond to four key strategic drivers: research collaborations; student and staff mobility; reputation building; and income generation, underpinned by our social responsibility commitment;
  • Aligning the work of the outward-facing professional service units within Global St Andrews and establishing an International Office as a lynchpin for a range of international activities;
  • Establishing a physical space and virtual presence that enable the successful operation of Global St Andrews and create a welcoming environment for international students, staff, alumni, and visitors;
  • Developing and testing global initiatives with the potential to be adopted into the University’s core research and teaching portfolios.

5.9. The progress of Global St Andrews will be indicated by:

  • Balancing the size and diversity of the student body in line with our objectives;
  • Increasing levels and sources of income and funding to support international priorities; 
  • Enhancing the University’s reputation and employer recognition;
  • Increasing the level of alumni interaction and philanthropic engagement;
  • Increasing international opportunities for staff and students.

5.10. Fundamental investment requirements:

  • Space to enable collaboration, support, and an enhanced digital presence;
  • A seed fund for a number of new initiatives;
  • Incentives that engage academic leadership in our international activities;
  • Growing the skills and expertise necessary to deliver Global St Andrews.

6. Entrepreneurial St Andrews

6.1. Entrepreneurial St Andrews will drive a culture shift in our University to strengthen our engagement with industry, business, and policy makers, and increase our capacity for innovation and value creation. We recognise that industry is increasingly setting the agenda for major funding priorities. Innovation is a key differentiator, and the demand for specific skills is growing. The current scale and pace of technological advancement are already posing fundamental challenges to society. St Andrews will need a step-change to engage fully to support innovation and deliver the education and skills that are needed for inclusive economic growth. 

6.2. Entrepreneurial St Andrews will build on our knowledge, and the ideas and drive of our staff and students, and will link these with the disruptive ambitions of investors, industry, and business to deliver holistic solutions. To be entrepreneurial in our culture is to see potential in existing and future activity and to translate that into action and application. We will bring together staff, students, industrialists, policy shapers, and investors in an ecosystem that fosters a culture of collaboration, curiosity, and constructive challenge that is cognisant of impact on people and society. We will also learn from other institutions where successful networks already operate. Universities are central to delivering innovation. Industry and business, however, are essential for its rapid deployment.

6.3. At our Eden Campus, we have a once in a generation opportunity to develop a new model to bring together expertise, both internal and external, into an environment for experimentation, the development of new approaches, and their impact on public policy. The aim will be to create a network that enables  others to work with our expertise and create opportunities for:

  • Researchers – the translation of their knowledge and understanding into solutions for investors, industry, and policy makers;
  • Investors, industry, and policy makers – the innovative thinking required to assemble disruptive ideas to overcome major challenges;
  • Teachers and students – opportunities to enrich learning, giving students practical opportunities to apply their learning quickly and grow their enterprise;
  •  Government and funders – an environment in which meaningful ideas can be explored and transformed into practical applications. 

6.4. Entrepreneurial St Andrews will share across the University the approach catalysed at the Eden Campus, to embed an accessible model of engagement in our culture. It will create the support structures and networking needed to facilitate access to and translation of our ideas and knowledge. 

6.5. Entrepreneurial St Andrews will recognise the significant expertise in engineering found across our Schools and academic activities and will provide focus and support for the development of a larger collaborative community of engineers working in a broad interdisciplinary context that concentrates on translation.

6.6. We need to create a culture shift to raise awareness of potential opportunities, to support and incentivise staff and students in progressing their ideas, with access to advice and facilities.

6.7. Enterprise education will play a key element in these ambitions. In this context, entrepreneurship is seen as the application of enterprise capabilities into the creation of cultural, social, or economic value, which can also lead to venture generation.

6.8. In a challenging financial environment, we will consolidate our resources and find imaginative ways to generate new income streams. We will create an investment pool for alumni, supporters, and third-party investors to benefit from and share in the acceleration of ideas from discovery to action. Wherever possible, the allocation of resources will be directed to where maximum value creation is anticipated. 

6.9. Entrepreneurial St Andrews will:

  • Develop an entrepreneurial culture which attracts others to seek the development of solutions with the University;
  • Create support structures that enable effective engagement between researchers, industry, business, policy makers, students, alumni, and investors, and develop and support our enterprise education portfolio;
  • Enable start-ups to become active and sustainable enterprises;
  • Establish investment vehicles and opportunities for supporting sustainable innovation;
  • Develop a rounded strategy for the exploitation of intellectual property;
  • Ensure that entrepreneurial engagement is University wide, with a clear place for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences;
  • Develop a horizon-scanning environment to engage with leaders from industry.

6.10. We will deliver this by:

  • Recognising and supporting staff and students with the initiative to innovate;
  • Creating a framework to stimulate and challenge the culture of entrepreneurship;
  • Developing and investing in the Eden Campus as a key catalyst and hub for entrepreneurial activities;
  • Enabling pooling and collaboration of expertise across disciplines;
  • Taking a disciplined and socially responsible approach to prioritisation and allocation of resources;
  • Promoting and developing enterprise education. 

6.11. The progress of Entrepreneurial St Andrews will be indicated by the:

  • Levels of industrial support for research activity;
  • Heightened networking opportunities for business and industry in St Andrews itself
  • Proportion of start-up companies which become sustainable enterprises;
  • Levels of external investment and collaboration;
  • Additional income generated.

6.12. Activity levels and scale will be contingent on external investment and funding, and in addition fundamental investment will be required for:

  • Fundraising, business case development, and relationship building;
  • The development of infrastructure at the Eden Campus;
  • Seedcorn funding alongside investors to encourage new enterprise;
  • Development of partnerships with industry to enable practical project opportunities for staff and students.

7. Realising the vision

7.1. This University’s future relies on the generation of new ideas, closer engagement with our stakeholders, and a shared commitment to build on our strengths and realise our ambitions. To go on being successful, we cannot stand still. This Strategy provides purpose, direction, and a broad decision-making framework for the development of this vision in the next five years.

7.2. The Strategy has been developed in close consultation with the University community and itemises only those commitments that are fundamental to its realisation.

7.3. Underpinning the Strategy will be a more detailed plan with objectives, ownership allocation, and a set of enabling strategies (people, estate, accommodation, finance, and digital). Philanthropy and the support of our alumni will be central to the University’s business plan.

7.4. In working with this Strategy, we expect to refine and revise it to ensure it remains active and relevant. We will always stay true to our values and the Homeric motto that expresses our determination to move forward with purpose, integrity, and success: Ever to Excel.