UCL Strategic Plan 2022-27



In UCL 2034, published in 2014 as a 20-year strategy for the university, we described ourselves as ‘London’s Global University’, with a clear mission to act for the long-term benefit of humanity.

That description is an evolution of our foundational narrative. Since 1826, we have challenged orthodoxy and applied ourselves to making the world better, seeking to serve society through the generation and application of ‘useful’ knowledge, with a particular focus on leading interdisciplinary discussion and debate. UCL is now one of the world’s top universities, with broad disciplinary excellence in research, innovation, education and impact. We operate on a large scale and nevertheless deliver exceptional academic performance: an achievement that has few parallels internationally. We are also a significant contributor to London and to the UK, generating close to £10bn of economic impact each year. In all this, we strive to exemplify the strong entrepreneurial spirit and desire for equity and justice that inspired our founding.

We have spent this last year in consultation, considering how to maximise our strengths and address those areas where we need to improve. We are already contributing at the highest level to the resolution of questions of real international significance, and the consultation feedback makes clear a collective desire to build this capability further, focusing on areas such as the climate crisis, inequity and mental health. There is strong support for looking again at our education provision, particularly with a view to addressing the pressures of workload reported by staff and students alike; and for a clear and transparent programme of long-term investment in our academic priorities for the future. There is agreement that we need to target improvements in services, systems and processes in key areas such as research services and HR, and to think about how we can leverage these improvements to free up time for research, education and high-level support for the academic mission. There is also agreement that we continue to develop and sustain a culture of transparency and inclusion so that all our staff, students and partners feel respected, supported and enabled to do their best work.

Achieving such aims is never straightforward, but is particularly challenging in this period, with escalating geopolitical and financial instability and real urgency around actions for sustainability and equity. The UK is experiencing considerable economic shocks in the form of double-digit inflation, energy price increases and supply chain constraints. Our major regulated income streams for both education and research are declining in real terms and our overseas student fee income faces growing risks. We are a large and complex organisation with significant operating costs, and we live in a time of increasing global competition. Our strategic plan must therefore deliver on our priorities in a manner that controls our costs effectively now so that we can invest for the future, and that ensures we are spending our money where it can have the most impact, including by ensuring that we can afford to reward our staff competitively.

Over the next five years, and by 2027, we plan to have:

  • amplified our ability to coordinate and build upon our research and education strengths, and our own operations, in five areas of significant societal challenge
  • streamlined our education offering for the benefit of staff and students, with a new programme architecture and potentially a new structure for the teaching year, and reduced the impact of structural complexity on the workloads of our staff
  • better coordinated our support for all involved in education
  • invested in those administrative functions that make the greatest difference to our institutional success, with demonstrable improvements in the time staff and students spend on administrative and transactional work
  • demonstrated clear progress towards an institutional culture of openness and inclusion, including by creating the conditions that enable difficult, sensitive, and important questions to be discussed and navigated collectively
  • delivered long-term financial resilience, with transparent planning for investment in academic areas of promise.