UCL Strategic Plan 2022-27


Living our values

Fostering a culture of trust and mutual accountability

Finally, we come to an area of focus that is clearly of great significance to many at UCL. Community, relationships and dialogue between disparate groups are all vital for the success of a university and for fostering a culture of trust and mutual accountability, which was a strong theme through feedback to the consultation. The contributions we received on this issue make clear that we need to build on our stated commitment to inclusion, belonging and equity with sustained action, and that, if we aspire to inclusion and openness, then we need to ensure that all voices are heard. In addition, feedback from our staff survey urged more open, listening, accountable leadership. A fourth enabler for our strategy, then, is a leadership commitment to a people-led culture and to a renewed focus on equity, inclusion and diversity, as well as steps to amplify the community voice in institutional decisions and a clearer, values-led approach to regulation and policy.

Leadership and support

The right leadership in this area is vital. We will therefore develop the role of the Chief People Officer so that, in addition to responsibility for making HR work effectively for all staff, they lead on ensuring that people considerations are at the heart of everything we do. We will explore ways of bringing HR and EDI together to work more closely, in order to support our ambitions in this area. We will also review the leadership programmes we run for staff in all roles to provide opportunities for detailed and regular reflection on the implications of our values for their work. Recognising that those dealing with sensitive interpersonal and cultural issues can require impartial support, we will also appoint an independent Staff Mediator to fulfil that function. This has been a community priority for several years and this individual will have an important role to play in building our capacity to resolve issues openly and with respect for all involved.

In addition to strengthening leadership capacity, we also want to take steps to amplify staff voice in institutional decision-making, so that we make effective use of our internal expertise – individually, or through key groups such as Academic Board. To seed that culture, we are committing to more frequent consultation on major institutional decisions, and to providing the frameworks for staff to build networks and connections across the university, whether informally or through participation in working groups and committees. The precedents we have set through the consultation process will inform this drive to continue to talk openly as a community about areas of concern, about strengths and challenges and about our progress on the areas that we have agreed really matter.

A new approach to policy and process alignment

Living up to our values of transparency and openness also means that we need to take steps to make UCL easier to navigate. A new Policy Team in the Office of General Counsel will work closely and in partnership with the many specialist policy teams across UCL. The new service will be responsible for managing and maintaining UCL’s extensive policy portfolio across the breadth of UCL’s activities, implementing a policy lifecycle management plan, developing clear consultation, endorsement and approval processes and supporting consistent development of policy across UCL.  They will develop a central policy register to make it easier for staff and students to access the information that they need. Oversight of policy across UCL will help us ensure that our policies are effective, consistent, and aligned with our values and our commitments on equity and inclusion.

Additionally, and in that same spirit, we will initiate a programme of work to ensure consistency and alignment across our disciplinary processes. Evidence from those processes indicates that they are not all currently configured in line with our institutional values. Some of our most contentious cases can become highly adversarial and intimidating for those raising their concerns; resolution can be slow in others where processes are unnecessarily burdensome. This can take a heavy toll on those involved and can prevent us from tackling areas of real concern because individuals are reluctant to speak out. This will be a joint project between HR and the Office of the General Counsel.

Freedom of debate on campus

Finally, and crucially, we also want to create space for constructive debate on controversial questions. This is vital because UCL is and must remain a place where principles of academic freedom are steadfastly upheld. Throughout the strategic plan period, we will explicitly facilitate collective consideration of what academic freedom means in a range of contexts, and how, as a community, we can respond when academic exploration pushes us to places that feel uncomfortable. Drawing on models such as the Academic Board Working Group on Definitions of Antisemitism, which enabled careful and thoughtful progress on the highly sensitive question of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, we will be creating regular opportunities for all of those at UCL – and our external partners and collaborators – to come together to debate and examine the boundaries of academic freedom from a range of standpoints, and to understand what those boundaries mean for us in practice.

The specific initiatives we will therefore be taking forward in relation to community and culture are:

Delivery Area sponsor: President & Provost, Chief People Officer, and General Counsel


Year 1

Years 2–5

Ready for implementation

  • Consideration of leadership structures


  • Implement new Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality Strategy
  • Create new policy team

Developmental initiatives

  • Develop new Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality Strategy
  • Update and align existing disciplinary processes
  • Creation of Staff Mediator function
  • Programme of work on academic freedom
  • Comprehensive review of our policies