University of the Year Although research, teaching, access and

University of the Year
Although research, teaching, access and business performance will be taken into
account, the main criterion will be evidence of particular bold, imaginative and
innovative initiatives that have advanced the institution's reputation between 1 July
2011 and 15 June 2012
Plymouth University is defined by a spirit of boldness; its commitment to partnership
and serving the community; and to its distinctive student experience that is focussed
upon real world issues and opportunities. In 2011/12, it brought all three of those
together in an innovative Student: Staff Partnership Agreement that established a
new culture: no longer do students study at Plymouth University; they study with
Plymouth University. The partnership is, based on the premise that students and
staff are members of an academic community, with complementary roles and
responsibilities. From being involved in the recruitment and selection process of
academic staff (including the Board of Governors), to inputting into the curriculum
and playing key roles in major projects such as the rebranding of the University, its
new campus space strategy, and the ‘one-stop-shop’ Student Gateway employability
facility – the student voice is now heard at all levels of the decision-making process.
This partnership resonates with the University’s enterprise mindset, in which
students, staff and community partners are empowered to use their creativity and
ideas for wider societal and economic benefit. This year alone, staff and students
have taken the academic lead in the launch of the national Social Enterprise
University Enterprise Network; led the Leadership, Management and Governance
project that has generated great insight into mission group structures and the
importance of differentiation; become the first university in the country to receive and
distribute Regional Growth Fund money; and exported its enterprise expertise to
support government projects in Sri Lanka and Nigeria.
Plymouth University can chart its heritage back to 1862 and the founding of the
School of Navigation, which provided vital vocational training and development in
seamanship. 150 years on, the University is working to make the seas safer through
innovative projects such as the Hydrographic Academy, a first-of-its-kind distance
learning programme for the off-shore sector, delivering Degree and Postgraduate
programmes from a single memory stick. The University’s Marine Institute boasts the
broadest research portfolio of any institution in Europe, and this year won the
Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education – a year in which its academics
have reported to the UN on issues such as ocean acidification, marine protected
areas, and climate change.
Plymouth is leading the sector in sustainability, winning a Green Gown Award for
continuous institutional improvement in November, and was ranked at number two in
the People and Planet Green League. This year it launched the country’s first
research institute focussed purely on solutions for today’s sustainability grand
challenges, and is leading a £1 million inter-disciplinary project to develop innovative
energy visualisation techniques. Through its Centre for Sustainable Futures it is
embedding this expertise across the curriculum, and acts as an exemplar to other
Plymouth was recently placed in the THE’s Top 100 Under 50 list – the highest
ranked post ’92 institution. Through its focus on student experience, partnership and
impactful research, it is our contention that Plymouth is redefining the term ‘modern
university and rendering irrelevant the divide between ‘post-92’ universities and the