Sussex 2025

Launch of Sussex 2025

The Sussex 2025 strategic framework was launched in the Attenborough Centre on 9 July by Adam Tickell, Saul Becker, Claire Annesley and Rorden Wilkinson.

Presentation from the event

Sussex 2025 Strategic Framework Launch presentation [PDF 761.73KB]

Video of the event

Featured video: Sussex 2025

Featured video: Generation 2025 – A Better University for a Better World

Unanswered questions from the event

Human Resources

How will equality of opportunity and your expressed commitment to flexible working be achieved when Sussex - an employer of thousands - has advertised no part-time professional services roles at grade 8 or above in the last 18 months?

The University is relaunching its existing flexible working procedure as part of the institution's new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. From 1 October 2018 all roles will be advertised as open to flexible working arrangements. This means we will invite applicants to raise and discuss potential flexible working options from the outset, to make all roles as accessible and open as possible.

Why is there a promotion process for faculty and not for professional services?

As a long serving member of professional services, how and when will staff development opportunities be enhanced and the current apartheid between academic and PS staff be addressed?

The career paths of Professional Services employees are always going to be different to academics as progression is achieved in very different ways. That said, it shouldn’t be felt that access to opportunity is different so we need to consider if this is the case.

The University provides a substantial staff development offering which forms an integral part of the annual appraisal process for all staff.

We are currently in the appraisal period and I would expect all managers to be discussion about development opportunities with staff. If you feel this isn’t happening, or if as a manager you need more support then you must raise this further up the chain. We run training courses for managers on how to use the appraisal system, and I strongly encourage managers to take this up.

We have recently launched a new programme for the exchange of professional services staff in partnership with top-tier world universities, such as Georgetown to share learning and offer new experiences. All professional services staff are eligible to apply to spend up to a week at an international partner.

The Sussex Professional Staff Fellowships programme follows a long history of staff mobility under Erasmus+ frameworks managed by Sussex Abroad. Sussex staff can continue to apply for funding for job shadowing and training through the EU programme covering 32 countries in Europe.

Finally, I care passionately about the culture at Sussex, particularly the better integration of professional services and academic staff. We are one community and there should be no hierarchies.

At the time of publishing the recent Changing University Cultures report we agreed that work will take place to bring together the academic community and professional services so there is greater respect and understanding of the attributes and challenges of the two vital staff groups.

Great strides have been made but the bullying culture remains in some parts of the institution. What measures are going to be put in place to address this in the long term and re-enable opportunities for innovation and taking the occasional risk where entrepreneurial ideas exist?

If you experience harassment at work you will be given the full support of the University in putting a stop to that harassment.

You have a number of options to enable you to deal with harassment. Please do not hesitate to contact colleagues in our HR department for confidential advice. They can offer both advice in how to explain to colleagues that the behaviour you’re experiencing is unacceptable, or they will explain what to do if you want to make a formal complaint. There are comprehensive guidelines for staff on the HR pages.

In all large organisations there will always be instances where unfortunately unacceptable behaviour manifests, however I am determined that here at Sussex we will be a community where such instances are extremely rare and they stand out for going completely against the grain. That requires all of us to take action when we see or experience behaviour that isn’t acceptable – and for senior leaders in this University to set an example at all times. I’m glad you’ve noticed that there have been improvements. We may still have some way to go, but we’ll get there.

The new values we agreed after extensive consultation with our community are: Kindness, Integrity, Inclusion, Collaboration and Courage.

On your second point, I strongly believe that in order to be successful people here need to feel supported to take risks. Obviously risk taking is possible in some areas more than others (for example we would never take a risk in finance!), however I have urged everyone to be courageous and bold in the strategies being developed that underpin our Framework.

Student Experience

Why are professional services being constantly told to improve the student experience when feedback is the main problem? Feedback needs to be reviewed with guidance on content, areas to cover etc.

Assessment and Feedback is a significant issue here at Sussex that we need to address, however this is not the only area where we are scoring negatively when you look at recent NSS and Student Barometer results.

We’re introducing many changes, such as a new structure to the academic year, a new virtual learning environment (which will improve feedback) and a better experience for students online, however much more needs to be done and it will require the input of every member of staff.

In March, we appointed Jayne Aldridge as our first permanent Director for the Student Experience. Jayne will be the University’s principal Professional Services lead for all student-facing activities.

Jayne will lead several of the University’s professional services units under one division, as the University introduces structural changes to better deliver exceptional services for students. Jayne will also work closely with our PVC of Education and Students, Kelly Coate, and a range of academic colleagues to ensure a joined up approach.

Staff in Professional Services play a vital role in enhancing the student experience at Sussex and it will be critical that everyone understands the part they play in this.

In broad terms international fee income is double the total research income. Will this be recognised; rewarded; invested in? Will we be able to take a less conservative approach to partnership and outreach internationally?

Strategic partnerships with organisations and institutions overseas are central to the University’s internationalisation agenda, and an International Partnership Development Fund has been established to encourage and support collaboration across a range of areas.

Internationalism is at the heart of our new strategic framework. You may have noticed that we have just appointed Richard Follett as the University’s first Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, International, to oversee our international student recruitment and mobility targets and maximise opportunities for global educational partnerships and collaborations.

You mentioned that the university estate in many areas are 'the worse for wear'. How do you plan on improving teaching excellence for students when not only is the estate under par but the teaching budgets remain at a level that was barely servicing the schools over a decade ago despite annual increases in student numbers and the desire to improve innovative teaching and technology?

Although Sussex is currently financially stable, we have to recognise that the next few years are going to be challenging for all universities in England.  When tuition fees rose to £9,000 in 2012, most direct government support for teaching disappeared. Inflation has eroded the value of the fee in real terms by over £1,000 and a further £1,000 of the fee is spent on supporting our widening participation and outreach activities. Very little of this is likely to change in the future: indeed, the current review of post 18 education could have some challenging recommendations.

This requires us to be smarter with our existing budget.

An Estates strategy and our first ever Smarter Sussex strategy, to enhance teaching technological innovation, are both in development. We have excellent teams overseeing this work and I feel confident there are vast improvements and changes we can make that are possible financially.

Improving student systems - is that a priority?

Yes – we have long been clear that our student systems need improving. It’s an extremely complex process and much work has been undertaken. 

We’ve also recently appointed a renowned transformation leader as the new Director of IT Services. Jason Oliver, will join the University in mid-September to head up the task of overseeing the University’s new IT and Digital strategy.

Other topics

In the spirit of being the change we want to see in the world, are you willing to take a pay cut Adam to reinvest in the university?

Executive remuneration obviously remains an emotive subject within our sector.

Levels of senior staff pay are decided by the University’s Remuneration Committee, which is chaired by an independent member of Council, the University’s governing body. Decisions are based on benchmarks within the organisation and within the sector, as well as comparing to other sectors.

The University’s management team acknowledge that the subject of pay is something extremely important for both staff and students, to discuss and debate. We are currently considering how we can facilitate more open discussions around these important topics within our campus community.

Will community engagement and revenue increase involve continuing education within the community - teaching our skills to those who would like to engage on a night school, part-time or non-qualification basis?

How we engage our local community with learning opportunities at Sussex is an interesting question. 

At the present time Saul Becker, our Deputy Vice-Chancellor, is developing the Engagement strategy as part of Sussex 2025 – and greater social cohesion is central to that. 

If we feel that opening up more learning opportunities is a key factor in achieving this then we will of course consider that. It’s important to note that Sussex 2025 is our long-term vision so some initiatives will be developed over time.

The Sussex Centre for Language Studies will continue to offer a variety of open courses in modern languages for the general public - giving the opportunity to progress language skills and learn about the country and customs concerned.

The University has also invested in flexible, online learning by partnering with online-learning experts Pearson to deliver a number of postgraduate qualifications online. The courses can be studied anywhere in the world, at a time and pace to suit each student.

Is a "better" university disruptive, distinctive or daring enough?

I believe we can be the truly disruptive and distinctive University that I know so many of you want… to do that we need to put our hands up and accept that we need to change and become better at what we do.

So yes, I think it is.  The foundations are there.  However we do need to all rise to the challenge.