Leicester plans to create ‘distinctive elite’ university

Leicester unveils a transformative plan to create a university that represents a ‘distinctive elite’ in the HE sector

The vision of a ‘discovery-led’ institution – in contrast to the traditional binary divide of a research-led or teaching-led institution – places innovation at the heart of Leicester as a research-intensive university which is inclusive and open to all who have talent.

Professor Paul Boyle (pictured) announced the new vision for Leicester exactly a year after he took over as the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor following a comprehensive consultation programme involving staff, students, alumni and external stakeholders. 

Previously, Professor Boyle was Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, the leading UK social science funding agency. He was also President of Science Europe which represents 52 science funders from 27 European countries, and International Champion of Research Councils UK.

ABOVE: The new plan for Leicester is published alongside a new look for Leicester – with a refreshed logo and a new website

The multi-million pound plans include the creation of a digital campus and the launch of one of the most flexible degree curriculums in the UK.  As a key plank of the Leicester strategy, the “Pathways” approach to course design provides a dynamic response to new demands and expectations from students, employers, and government. Consequently, Leicester graduates will be even better prepared to embark on rewarding careers and to go on to make a difference in the world.

Leicester also has ambitions to establish the National Space Park, which will be home for its world-class space and earth observation scientists and will play a crucial role in attracting high-tech companies to the city. 

By being more adventurous, more ambitious and more insistent on the value of our distinctive qualities, we will have an even greater impact upon global scholarship and education. In every area, we are already developing bold initiatives that put our university at the forefront of change’

Professor Boyle said: “We are long-established yet focused on a future that will see us pioneering a distinctive elite of research-intensive institutions, open to all who have talent. As a discovery-led university, we will be ever more focused on innovation. We will make a real difference: the excellence of our research, teaching and enterprise will transform people’s lives. By being more adventurous, more ambitious and more insistent on the value of our distinctive qualities, we will have an even greater impact upon global scholarship and education. In every area, we are already developing bold initiatives that put our university at the forefront of change. 

“As part of our global initiative, we will develop new research and teaching centres in places including China, Indonesia, Iraq and Kurdistan and focus our strategic partnerships in areas and regions, such as post-conflict societies, where we can make a real difference.” 

Leicester has announced:

  • The creation of a National Space Park will show how universities can bring together cutting-edge science, industry, education and training. The National Space Park will drive innovation in space and Earth observation science
  • A multi-million pound new estate development plan to deliver a state-of-the art campus at the heart of Leicester’s Educational Quarter.  This includes the largest investment in medical education at any UK university in the past decade
  • Transformation of the University’s digital estate – taking a ‘digital by default’ approach to the development of facilities
  • New research institutes bringing together different disciplines and research networks
  • Development of “Pathways”, which provides one of the most flexible curriculums in the UK – allowing students to combine disciplines in new ways to suit their interests and ambitions
  • Increasing ‘access to university’ opportunities for people from disadvantaged and socially excluded backgrounds with the aim of supporting how universities nationwide can best contribute to improving social mobility
  • Cognisant of our unique multicultural setting, we will take a leading role in the sector in respecting diversity and equality issues more broadly.  We are committing to building on work with the city and beyond to improve economic, social and cultural well-being, the environment and health

Professor Boyle added: “Leicester has already been selected by the United Nations as one of only 10 global universities championing gender equality through the HeForShe movement and we intend to increase the impact of our external engagement, social responsibility and outreach activities. 


“As members of one of the most international universities in the UK, our students and staff will become increasingly mindful of their role in understanding and meeting global challenges and opportunities, while always continuing to focus on their contribution to our city and region. We will develop and vigorously pursue an agenda of social responsibility and sustainability that is global, national and local. Working with institutions in our own region, we will take a strong lead in enhancing Leicester’s future. 

“To make an even greater difference, we will launch a new campaign—PROUD—focused on ways in which we can help our city meet its most significant environmental, social, community relations and educational challenges. These include:

  • Promoting Health & Wellbeing
  • Restoring Our Environment
  • Opening Access To Culture & Heritage
  • Upskilling for 21st Century
  • Developing Children & Young People 

“In collaboration with funding, business and local stakeholders, we will launch a National Space Park. Focusing our world-class strengths in space and Earth Observation science, this national centre for undergraduate, postgraduate and apprenticeship training will provide a new anchor for a vital British industry. It will play a key part in realising the ambition that our cutting-edge translational research and enterprise enriches the local and regional economy and fuels the Midlands as an engine of future growth.”

The wide-ranging strategic plan will also see increased investment in entrepreneurial activities, a new streamlined collegiate structure and a programme to nurture talent at all levels and tailor support to the different stages of the research career. 

You can access the full report to Leicester’s strategic plan here https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/for-journalists/strategic-plan-2015/strategic-plan-2015/

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