Introduction

This White Paper outlines a vision and strategy for UCL for the coming 10 years. It builds upon and develops our existing strategies for research, enterprise, human relations, scholarships, estates and facilities, development and alumni relations, information services, public policy, and communications and marketing.

It was published initially as the Provost’s Green Paper, and approved by UCL Council as a consultative document in May 2011. Its proposals were discussed widely across UCL through May and June. I convened a series of open town meetings, presided at two meetings of Academic Board, and made presentations to meetings of Heads of Department and other staff and student representatives. Representations came to me directly and through a dedicated Green Paper website. All have been taken into account in preparing this revised paper. Many have resulted in revision to the text; several comments are cited directly. Much related to more detailed issues that will arise in the next steps of implementation, and will be taken into account then.

Professor Malcolm Grant


UCL is a very special place. It attracts remarkable affection and loyalty amongst its students, staff and alumni. These are equalities it is essential to maintain through a period of political and financial turbulence that has been quite unprecedented in the last half century of UK universities. Our operating environment has already changed fundamentally.We are presented with a unique opportunity and obligation to bring about a  transformation around a fresh student-centred vision, and to make UCL quite simply the most exciting university in the world at which to study and work. We aim to bring UCL through the economic recession not only more financially stable and sustainable, but also as the UK’s leading outward-looking university, making a major contribution to the society in which we function and enhancing the lives of our students.

Here is the central challenge. The block grant that we currently receive to support teaching is to be withdrawn from the 2012–13 academic year, apart from some residual support for the more expensive laboratory, clinical programmes and for strategically important and vulnerable subjects. For all other undergraduate programmes, the Government subsidy shifts from the university to the student, in the form of a loan to cover the cost of tuition, repayable after graduation from earned income once that exceeds £21,000 a year. For postgraduate taught programmes, the subsidy to teaching is lost but without students having access to the subsidised loan.

At the same time, the Government has protected research funding from serious cuts, and maintained it at the present level for the next four years. That represents a real-terms reduction of around 12%, compared with a steady annual 5% increase in UCL’s research income in recent years. Although it is a welcome reprieve from the  much deeper cuts imposed across the public sector, it is a significant change for so research-intensive a university as UCL.

These two changes, coupled to other higher education reforms currently being pursued, confront us with a dramatically different model from that to which we are accustomed. It is impossible yet to understand how it may affect student choice and behaviour, nor its likely impact on the finances of universities. Not all features of the new settlement are yet determined, and there will no doubt be further change in the coming years. But we are well positioned to adapt and lead.

Malcolm Grant's signature

Malcolm Grant
UCL President and Provost
September 2011


From the 1826 prospectus

“Finally, the Council trust, that they are now about to lay the Foundation of an Institution well adapted to communicate liberal instruction to successive generations of those who are now excluded from it, and likely neither to retain the machinery of studies superseded by time, nor to neglect any new science brought into view by the progress of reason; of such magnitude as to combine the illustration and ornament which every part of knowledge derives from the neighbourhood of every other, with the advantage that accrues to all from the outward aids and instruments of Libraries, Museums and Apparatus; where there will be a sufficient prospect of fame and emolument to satisfy the ambition, and employ the whole active lives of the
ablest Professors… ”

Next: The context