UCL News


Provost's View: From TOPS to the Dementia Research Institute - an update on UCL 2034 major projects

17 May 2017

As we approach the end of the academic year, it is a good time to reflect on our progress against the range of ambitions that we set out in UCL 2034.

UCL 2034 graphic In particular, I would like to provide an update on some of the major projects that are an essential part of our vision for UCL.

Of course, colleagues and students are working on elements of UCL 2034 all the time - in the classroom, the lab, the library and elsewhere.

Alongside this, we are running a set of immensely complex and challenging projects - which range from much-needed updates to our campus and IT infrastructure to exciting academic developments and improvements to professional services.

Indeed, I would argue that this is the most ambitious and exciting portfolio of change and improvement that a UK university has set its sights on - and we are making good progress. 

We have already delivered some vital projects - and will complete more before the end of 2017

We have already completed some important projects - our launch of the It's All Academic philanthropy campaign, our review of the Grand Challenges and the re-opening of 22 Gordon Street, the home of our world-leading UCL Bartlett School of Architecture are three good examples.

And before the end of the calendar year, we can look forward to completing a number of our improvements to the campus. We will re-open a remodelled and expanded Bentham House for UCL Laws and launch Here East, our first major presence at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

We will also provide newly refurbished spaces for science in Charles Bell House, the Kathleen Lonsdale Building and the Courtauld Building, and much-needed communal space through the new Wilkins Terrace and Refectory and nearly 500 seats of new teaching space at Torrington Place. 

After decades of under-investment, these will be the first fruits of our estates transformation programme - and much of this investment is improving our core campus in and around Bloomsbury.

22 Gordon Street, credit: Jack Hobhouse

There will also be much more to come in the next few years, not least of which will be our New Student Centre (currently under construction) that will provide more than 1,000 additional study spaces for our students and a totally refurbished (and now asbestos-free) Bloomsbury Theatre. 

Our portfolio of major projects

We have made great progress in getting a portfolio of major projects up and running in the past three years. Many of the projects are multi-year and multi-dimensional - for example, combining new academic developments with construction work and/or changes to the way we work.

Below is a list of the 14 projects that - based on their scale, complexity and risk - we have defined as our current portfolio of major projects.

This includes projects that I hope you are already aware of and which I regard as being institutionally transformative; the Connected Curriculum; It's All Academic - our philanthropy campaign; UCL East; the redevelopment of Queen Square House to house our world-leading Institute of Neurology; and the Dementia Research Institute.

We also have a group of projects that are major enablers for our academic mission and that will radically improve the services that we all rely upon.

These include Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS), our programme to deliver more effective professional services for the UCL community; the implementation of a new HR system and supporting processes; a programme to transform management information; the Academic Model Project, which aims to improve the academic model and academic standards; and a project to move our Bloomsbury data centre from Wolfson House to Torrington Place.

Project/programme Sponsor Summary
UCL East Professor Michael Arthur, President & Provost Establishing a new campus at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, forming part of the wider education and cultural quarter.
Queen Square House & Dementia Research Institute Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of UCL Brain Sciences Redeveloping Queen Square House for UCL Translational Neuroscience, the Institute of Neurology and the Dementia Research Institute.
It's All Academic: The Campaign for UCL Professor Michael Arthur, President & Provost and Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Development) Delivering a pioneering campaign to raise £600m of philanthropic income while engaging and expanding UCL's global community of supporters.
Connected Curriculum Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) Reforming curricula across UCL to support student learning through research and critical enquiry.
Data Centre Mike Cope, Director of Information Services Division Relocating the Bloomsbury data centre from Wolfson House to 1-19 Torrington Place.
TOPS Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations) and Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) Delivering more effective professional services for the UCL community, creating more fulfilling careers and reducing the proportion of spend on professional services over time.
Biological Services into the Future Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of UCL Brain Sciences

Supporting the long-term future of the world-class biomedical research at UCL by establishing a state-of-the-art animal breeding facility.

Transforming Management Information Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations) Delivering enriched insights to improve decision-making in support of UCL's core academic mission.
The Academic Model Project Wendy Appleby, Registrar & Head of Student & Registry Services Revising and improving the academic model to improve academic standards and academic information.
HR System Implementation Fiona Ryland, HR Director  Implementing a new IT system for HR, enabled by a set of new, simplified processes.
Oriel: Re-location of Moorfields & Institute of Ophthalmology Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of UCL Brain Sciences Relocating Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Institute of Ophthalmology to King's Cross extending UCL's research and education in the fields of vision and eye disease.
Institute of Immunity & Transplantation Professor David Lomas, Vice-Provost (Health) Creating research space to support the delivery of diagnostic and therapeutic innovations, providing a focal point for immunology research in Europe.
Prion Unit Transfer into UCL Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of UCL Brain Sciences Transferring the MRC Prion Unit to UCL and providing the unit with new accommodation within the Courtauld Building.
Here East Professor Alan Penn, Dean of UCL Bartlett Creating new space at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for cross-disciplinary research and innovative new education programmes.

Helping us deliver these projects

To help us deliver this portfolio successfully, we have been thinking carefully about how best to support the sponsors leading this work and how to assess the portfolio as a whole.

In other words, looking at the impact of the overall portfolio on the UCL community, tackling common risks and issues across projects, looking ahead to what the next few months and years might feel like as projects progress, deliver and new projects commence.

As a result of this, we have agreed as a senior management team to review the portfolio formally each quarter, looking at the profile of the portfolio as a whole, each project at a summary level and reviewing two projects in detail.

We have also committed to improving our communication of progress - so I will be providing more regular updates on these projects from now on.

Delivering changes on this scale is never an easy task. But looking across the portfolio of major projects as a whole, I believe that they will provide our community with a hugely improved environment in which to undertake world-leading research and learning.

Professor Michael Arthur
President & Provost

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