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A vision for 2034

What will the world look like in twenty years’ time?
At UCL, we are laying the groundwork today.

Avisionfor2034

The last year, my first as Provost, was a fascinating whirlwind as I immersed myself in this outstanding institution. One cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer quality at every turn. Our radical and rebellious reputation is one that comes from our people and their ideas – our students, staff and alumni.

Defining our new strategy – UCL 2034 – involved engaging such people and recognising the characteristics of the institution that have helped us rise so high. To name a few: research excellence across disciplines, generous and purposeful partnerships both local and global, and – at the root of it all – an outstanding community of students: proudly diverse, drawn from all walks of life and all parts of the world, united by their own excellence, inquisitiveness, ambition and potential.

UCL 2034 captures these characteristics and distils them into several themes: academic leadership grounded in intellectual excellence, with a heavy emphasis on the relationship between research, education and our students; addressing global challenges and delivering impact through innovative partnerships; fostering a lifelong community; and reaffirming our position as an accessible, publicly-engaged institution. To these we can add a renewed emphasis on our relationship with London, not just our backdrop but a global capital city that should confer tremendous advantages to anyone studying or working at UCL.

If 2014 was a year for defining the strategy, 2015 is the year to start delivering. On which note, I would like to talk briefly about two projects which have the potential to have a transformational impact on your university.

First, our potential merger with the Institute of Education (IoE) which, if it goes ahead, will certainly make headlines. The IoE is among the world’s top-ranked schools focused on educational and quantitative social sciences research, and one that provides fertile ground for new collaborations. UCL students will benefit from engagement with a discipline that is largely new to us, while those currently registered at the IoE will benefit from the tremendous critical mass that exists at UCL, opening up entirely new lines of enquiry.

Our radical and rebellious reputation comes from our people and their ideas

Second, vying for headline space, our plans for a new campus at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park offer a unique opportunity for UCL to recast our relationship with London. In scale and ambition, this development will represent a bold new future for the University and the capital – a rare chance to create an entirely new hub for research, education, collaboration, innovation and public engagement. This development will act as a catalyst for the knowledge-based industries and technologies in which London, and UCL, can lead the world.

On top of such projects, we have returned an outstanding REF 2014 submission and have seen both research and innovation/enterprise grow at great speed. The results are due before the start of 2015, and I am confident that the results will elevate UCL’s status within the UK higher education sector and internationally.

We have also been through a period of transition in our international affairs. We have recruited exceptional new senior talent in this area, and we are beginning to see a new strategy take shape that will lift our global profile and allow us to fulfil our strapline as London’s Global University.

Essentially, UCL 2034 is about enabling the best students and staff to excel and to facilitate the short-, medium- and long-term benefits they will bring to our activities and reputation. This is how we will maintain our global standing in higher education and research. When UCL was opened nearly 190 years ago, the first students were reminded that “we have our reputation to acquire; our glory is to come, and must come from you”.

From lofty positions in global league tables we might say this glory has come already. But, UCL is a deeply impressive place – one in which our proudest achievements are not in the past but are in the here and now; today and, with UCL 2034 as our guide, even more so in our future.

Professor Michael Arthur
UCL President and Provost

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Portico Issue 1. 2014/15
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