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Transforming Cardiff

Today Cardiff University launches Transforming Cardiff, a programme of change that will enable the University to deliver on its ambitious strategic plan, The Way Forward 2018-23, in a way that is both innovative and financially sustainable.

The programme is carefully phased to minimise disruption and to manage workload, with a timeline matching that of The Way Forward.

The University retains its ambition to be ranked amongst the world top 100 and UK top 20 universities and to fulfil its social, cultural and economic obligations to Cardiff, Wales and the wider world.

However, it must deliver on these ambitions in a way that brings the university back into surplus in 2019/20. The university posted a deficit of £22.8 million in 2017/18, after seeing expenditure increase by 5.2% while income only increased by 2.5%.

The Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Professor Riordan, said, “Transforming Cardiff is a programme for change that allows us to align financial imperatives with innovative ways of delivering teaching, research and our civic mission. We are proposing new courses in areas of global challenges that really matter to Wales, such as Data Science and Environmental Science. We are also proposing a new School of Literatures, Languages and Creative Practice to offer new opportunities for working across disciplines. We are committed to supporting our outstanding people, and want to manage this change programme over a five-year period so that we can retain and build on excellence.”

There are multiple pressures on costs, the most significant being the cost of employment. Staff costs have been rising faster than income over the last three years so that we are now out of line with comparator universities. For 2017/18, staff costs were 59.6% of total income, which is the highest percentage in the Russell Group.

The University wishes staff costs to account for no more than 56% of income by 2022/23.

The University plans to reduce current staff levels by 7%, or 380 fte, over five years. This is manageable when compared to an average annual voluntary staff turnover of more than 6%.

No compulsory redundancies have been proposed to Council at this stage. The University has recently introduced recruitment controls and has also launched a Voluntary Severance Scheme in which there has been significant interest. However, the University cannot rule out compulsory redundancies in the future.

The programme is organised under five pillars: organisational change, transforming services, education, research and estates.

Initial ideas under organisational change include:

  • the creation of a new School of Literatures, Languages and Creative Practice to support innovative cross-disciplinary teaching
  • a review of the School of Healthcare Sciences to improve the way in which we support the delivery of allied healthcare subjects and nursing across Wales
  • co-location of the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences and School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to allow for a unified organisational structure and rationalisation of estate

The transforming services ideas are based upon creating one high-performing professional service across the University.

The education ideas are intended to enable us to create a consistent, high quality student experience.  These include proposals for new courses such as:

  • delivery of a revised geography curriculum building on the expertise of geography and earth sciences
  • the creation of new courses in computer sciences, biosciences, environmental sciences and psychology.

The research ideas enable us to maintain research excellence and ensure sustainable growth.

Estates plans will rationalise the space we use to support our ambition.

An extensive period of engagement will now begin.

The Transforming Cardiff proposals were approved by Council on 11th February. Professor Stuart Palmer, Chair of Council, said, “Like all universities Cardiff University faces significant financial challenges. Council is reassured that Transforming Cardiff will see the University move back into surplus in a way that minimises disruption to our excellent staff and students.

“I am pleased to see that Cardiff remains an ambitious institution determined to deliver on the goals set out in The Way Forward, 2018-23.”