The University Court has approved the new University Strategy for St Andrews, as Principal Sally Mapstone confirmed via email on 31 October.
The strategy covers the next five years of the University of St Andrews, from 2018 to 2023.
Professor Mapstone highlighted that the production of this document has been a collaborative process, with consultations with students, faculty, and staff helping to “improve” the document, particularly with regards to social responsibility.
The new strategy takes effect immediately and will guide the University in decision making and resource allocation until 2023.
The strategy gained a major vote of confidence the day after its release, with the parents of a former student, Frank and Beverley MacInnis, pledging $10 million to the University, with the condition that it be used purely to carry out the vision that the Strategy lays out.
Professor Mapstone stated that this generous gift will enable the University to launch the new Strategy with “confidence and strong belief.”
The strategy is broken down into four distinct themes – World Leading St Andrews, Diverse St Andrews, Global St Andrews, and Entrepreneurial St Andrews.
According to the document, this is the first time in six centuries that the University will “visibly place social responsibility at the heart of its strategic plan,” and this can be felt throughout the plan, which places great emphasis on increasing diversity and giving back to the local community.
The key commitment of World Leading St Andrews is to increase the number of areas in which the University is clearly identified as world-leading, building on success that St Andrews has enjoyed in recent years.
The section also makes a commitment to recognise the contribution of all the University’s subjects, from philosophy to medicine, and aims to ensure that these fields work together to pursue excellence.
Diverse St Andrews focuses on the idea that diversity and inclusion should “be at the heart of the St Andrews experience,” and that the University should become a “beacon of inclusivity.”
The strategy acknowledges long-standing criticism about the lack of racial, ethnic, and economic diversity amongst the student body and makes a commitment to taking a perspective that is “more ambitious” than that of the Scottish Government.
In the section “Global St Andrews,” there is a clear commitment to retaining the University’s international outlook, its European traditions, and its Scottish character. The strategy sets out the belief that “global St Andrews” will enhance the ability of staff and students to pursue their ambitions internationally.
This section reiterates the University’s commitment to continue to attract the best students from outside of the UK, and to remain “rooted in European traditions.”
The final section, Entrepreneurial St Andrews, envisions a “culture shift” in the University, aiming to strengthen the University’s engagement with industry, business, and policy-making, and increase the University’s influence in these areas.
It also commits to developing an entrepreneurial spirit amongst staff and students of the University, encouraging all members of the University to engage with entrepreneurship.
Rector’s Assessor Camilla Duke praised the elements of the strategy, noting that the Rector’s Committee are particularly pleased with the University Strategy’s “increased commitment to diversity, inclusion, and sustainability.”
She added that the Rector’s Committee look forward to strengthening these commitments further through “the shaping of policy over the next few years.”
However, Ms Duke recognised that these are areas where there will “always [be] more work to be done.”
Additionally, she applauded the Strategy’s continued emphasis on a “global outlook” and emphasised that the Rector’s Committee hopes to help the University “navigate the difficulties of Brexit” in a way that honours St Andrews’ international community and European connections.
The confirmed strategic plan comes at a time when news regarding diversity at St Andrews has been mixed.
In October, the University was shortlisted for a LGTBQ+ equality award by PinkNews. However, in the same month, the University of St Andrews was named second worst in the UK for social mobility after Oxford.