University proposition for 2012: what we will offer our students
I hope you all had a good break and are feeling refreshed as we start a new year.
You will be aware that the University is thinking in detail how we should respond to the introduction of higher tuition fees in 2012. In part we are doing this through Project 2012, a short-term project set up to engage the whole University community in laying out clearly the value of what we offer our students.
One of the first tasks of the project has been to prepare a document that aims to encapsulate why students should want to come to the University of Sheffield and what they can expect when they are here. A draft of this document – our `University proposition´ – has been developed by a Project 2012 working group, led by Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor Tony Payne. It reflects our educational mission and the values we hold in common and builds on work done previously on sustainable excellence. The document aims to inspire, but we also want it to be realistic and honest, because we should not promise anything that we cannot realistically deliver by 2012.
I believe that developing our proposition creates a real opportunity for the whole community to discuss what we want our University to be like. Increased tuition fees will lead to increased expectations from students, and present us with some opportunities for change – but any such changes need to be driven and supported by our staff.
So I am asking for your views, and your involvement. I am writing separately to all Faculty PVCs and the Registrar and Secretary to ask them to work with Heads of Department so that we can have discussion and debate in all departments over the coming month. This is much more than a consultation – we need to stimulate and capture everyone´s ideas about meeting raised expectations and delivering what our students deserve.
I have written to you before about the importance of sustaining our own vision of this University, and of remaining true to our core purpose and values, as laid out in our Mission, Vision and Identity statement. I believe this will be especially important in the coming months as we work together on what we offer our students, and on setting our fees for 2012.
I recognise that you are all very busy getting on with your day to day work. But I hope that you will make the most of this opportunity for effecting some real changes in the way we teach and support our students, and will take the time to put your ideas forward in the discussions I am sure will take place in your department. You can also send comments directly to
I look forward to having the opportunity to talk face to face with some of you at my Open Forums on 6 and 7 January – details from: www.shef.ac.uk/staff
With best wishes for 2011.
Professor Keith Burnett