Aston University operates in a highly competitive market for students, research funding, private and public sector investments, and for new income sources, while being challenged by increasing operating costs and regulatory pressures. The ongoing cap on UK undergraduate tuition fees means that around half of the university’s income does not increase for inflation, and with the volatility of the environment for international student income, it is a challenging set of pressures to balance.
The UK higher education sector faces significant challenges going forward in relation to achieving a sustainable funding model while attempting to meet all the internal and external operating requirements and expectations.
Our first expansion out into the city centre, John Cadbury House. It will become the new home for the University’s business and community engagement and alumni relations and development teams, along with a hub for business engagement, enterprise creation and innovation capacity-building.
It is clear that to secure our future, the university will need to:
- Commit to diversifying and growing its revenue well beyond current levels.
- Transform the core operating model for better efficiency and effectiveness.
- Achieve much higher levels of internationalisation and commercialisation than in the past.
Delivering the 2030 strategy requires a step change in our core operating and delivery models, underpinned by a commitment to higher levels of organisational agility and cross-unit collaboration.
This will involve developing a new operating model underpinned by a sustainable financial framework that enables and supports this strategy, consistently utilising intelligent data analytics and insights to ensure the growth across our diversified portfolio
We will become an organisation with excellent financial literacy embedded across all functional units and colleges, ensuring that we:
- Deliver a sustainable financial foundation with a transformational platform that provides for targeted investment in organisational capability, infrastructure and digital improvements.
- Maintain high levels of financial compliance with full transparency over how resources are allocated and where the true cost and value of activities is understood.
- Operate a diverse workforce portfolio that provides for agile scalability and sustainable cost management
The key steps we will take to secure our future include:
- Developing an agile organisation through digitilisation – by adopting a digital first approach across the organisation to improve flexibility, responsiveness and productivity, and enhance staff and student experience, and developing a data-enabled enterprise model, providing intelligent data analytics and insights across all areas of the organisation for planning, decision making, and data informed interventions focused on continuous improvement.
- Diversifying our academic portfolio and presence – growing our student communities on campus, at Aston London and Offshore Hubs, and via Aston Online.
- Scaling-up our commercial activities – including joint ventures with strategic partners, Conference Aston and Hotel, philanthropic initiatives, and commercial training for industry and business.
- Focussing on value creation with partners – by embedding industry teams and professionals within the university environment, establishing a Business Hub and Enterprise Hub to create new businesses and commercialise research through Aston University Ventures and Midlands Mindforge.
- Shaping the campus as a catalyst – for the realisation of the B-IQ through strategic partnerships and joint ventures with the city and private sector using the triple-helix model of innovation and attracting private sector investment including Foreign Direct Investment.
Securing our future means taking greater control, being cognisant of the competitive and commercial context we operate in, but also being brave and committed to a new direction involving new models of operation – to give us a transformational platform and sustainable foundations for our future.