University wins top award for development of ambitious strategy

University wins top award for development of ambitious strategy

The University of Aberdeen has won a national award in recognition of its development of an ambitious vision for the future of the institution.

The University won the Strategy Award at the annual Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA) Awards, in recognition of the detailed work undertaken in the development and implementation of its Aberdeen 2040 strategy.

Launched on the University’s 525th birthday last year, the long-term strategy is based on the University’s foundational purpose of being ‘open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others’.

Central to its development was an extensive consultation exercise with a staff, students, and stakeholders, which HESPA cited as a key factor in achieving the award – along with its clarity of vision and strong backing from within the University community.

An institutional staff survey carried out last year showed that over 90% of staff felt the University had articulated a clear vision of its future through Aberdeen 2040, which sets out 20 commitments across four key themes – Inclusive, Interdisciplinary, International, and Sustainable.

The strategy also sets out five interdisciplinary challenges – practical problems where the University has outstanding expertise and can make a significant impact. These include Energy Transition; Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing; Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity; Data and Artificial Intelligence, and Environment and Biodiversity.

At the HEPSA awards, which were held online yesterday, the judges highlighted the ‘rigorous consultation with students, staff and stakeholders’ in the development of Aberdeen 2040, adding ‘the clarity on roles, transparency and inclusivity of this work ensured that high levels of engagement were achieved across the University.’

Senior Vice-Principal Karl Leydecker, who coordinated the development of the strategy, said:

“This award is testament to the dedication and hard work of the wide cross-section of our University community who engaged in our extensive consultation process, which has been praised by HEPSA.

“We could never have foreseen how much things would change between the launch of Aberdeen 2040 and today, but our response to the Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the important role our University plays in addressing the serious challenges that face society.

“The first of our commitments under Aberdeen 2040 is to ‘care for the wellbeing, health and safety of our diverse community’ and this has been central to our response over the last year. 

“As we look ahead, we will continue to deliver on our key themes and commitments, for example in supporting regional economic recovery and delivering on our pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2040.

“Aberdeen 2040 sets out our long-term ambitions to tackle society’s grand challenges, and the work that has taken place across its broad range of themes reflects a shared sense of purpose across our University to deliver on its objectives.

“I am grateful to all those in our university community and beyond who contributed to its development, and I am pleased with the progress we have made despite the challenges we have faced over the past year.”