Our Annual Review for 2013-14 highlights a selection of our achievements and developments from the year. Here at Loughborough, the combination of world class research, enterprising outlook, unparalleled sporting achievement and excellent student experience gives rise to something that is truly special and distinctive amongst all UK universities.
We have enjoyed continued research success, achieving significant growth in grant income and becoming the lead or a partner in a number of new Centres for Doctoral Training. Our proposals to enhance the Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Parks have attracted significant investment and our plans for a second postgraduate campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London are going from strength to strength.
We were awarded our seventh Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education and were named University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times. Our sporting prestige was further enhanced by our athletes’ performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – if Loughborough had been a country it would have finished 10th in the table, ahead of countries such as Kenya and Jamaica, in terms of the total number of medals won. A truly outstanding achievement.
Our student recruitment for 2013-14 was strong, with increases in both UK/EU and international numbers, and our undergraduate applications for 2014-15 increased by 15% on the previous year, compared with a rise of just 4% nationally.
In the Government’s autumn statement in 2013, it was announced that universities would next year be able to admit an additional 30,000 students and from 2015-16 the cap on numbers would be lifted completely. The higher education environment is changing rapidly and we have considered the evolution carefully as we set out our strategic plan for Loughborough’s development over the coming decade.
The development this year of our long term vision also gave us the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made since the introduction of our previous strategy in 2006.
We have an outstanding reputation for the relevance of our research. We are among the world’s leaders in a diverse range of areas, from sport, health and exercise to engineering, technology and child welfare policy, and our work has led to changes in industrial practice and brought improvements to the quality of people’s lives.
The Witty Review, published in October 2013, considered the vital contribution that UK universities make to economic growth, highlighting the need for them to work with business, and I believe that Loughborough is well-placed to deliver this key agenda. We have a strong record of working in partnership with industry, with long-standing collaborative links with companies of all sizes. Our campus is also home to a growing number of entrepreneurs and burgeoning businesses, who frequently win national and international prizes.
One of Loughborough’s distinctive features is the irrefutable link between our research and teaching. Our aim as part of the Loughborough experience is to equip our students for every aspect of their life and career, and employers are invariably impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and competitiveness that Loughborough students demonstrate.
Our students past and present, our staff and campus-based partners are at the heart of all we do, and in developing our strategy we consulted widely, with people and organisations both within and outside the University. We wanted to take into account what they considered Loughborough’s priorities and goals to be for the next phase of our development. As a result, our strategy has been shaped by those who will play an important part in delivering it.
Entitled Building Excellence, our strategy focuses on four central pillars – investing in our staff, educating for success, growing capacity and influence, and raising standards and aspiration. We have centred our 2013-14 annual review around these themes, with our core functions of research, teaching, enterprise and sport embedded in each.
Our strategy was launched at the House of Commons in April 2014 at an event hosted by our local MP, Nicky Morgan, now Secretary of State for Education. Speaking at the event, David Willetts, then Minister of State for Universities and Science, complimented us on our pre-eminent position in engineering, our sporting prowess and the close working relationship between the University and Students’ Union, which from his perspective is one of the best in the country.
We are indeed fortunate to have such a rewarding partnership with our students’ union. Their contribution to the development of the University, the Loughborough student experience and local, national and international life is second to none. Their fundraising through Rag is an achievement of which many national charities would be proud; their volunteering efforts make a huge difference to people’s lives; and of course their success in the British Universities and Colleges Sport championship is unprecedented.
Sport is firmly embedded in Loughborough’s heritage and I believe its ethos lies at the core of much of what we do. There’s an atmosphere of determination on campus and a will to succeed that pervades all our activities – it is an environment that motivates everyone to be the very best they can be.