Over the five-year life of the previous University Plan (as it used to be called), we made a capital investment of a quarter of a billion pounds in buildings and facilities to help ensure that the University of Bristol would end its first century fit and ready for its second. At least as much will be invested over the life of this new plan in order to maintain the momentum, driven by Bristol’s absolute commitment to academic excellence – something that has defined this University from its earliest days and will secure its future.
In essence, all of this investment is about creating an environment in which great research and inspiring teaching, within and across disciplines, are most likely to happen. However, success is not only about creating state-of-the-art laboratories and smart seminar rooms with all the latest equipment. It is, first and foremost, about attracting, supporting and retaining truly outstanding staff and students – ones who seek and can use what one might call ‘the freedom to fly’.
At the same time, of course, an institution such as this needs leadership, a shared understanding of its overall direction and a clear grasp of how, at the strategic level, it is going to make headway. This is where the University Vision and Strategy (as it is now called) comes in.
For me, two key points emerge about the University’s trajectory. The first is that the institution is poised to become more global in both mindset and impact. It is already a force to be reckoned with internationally – particularly in terms of its research – but I believe it is well placed to make an even more substantial contribution to the kinds of knowledge, understanding and scholarship that will be required in tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues. The second is that for all this, the University will stay relatively compact and will nurture the collegial atmosphere that makes it a true community as well as an ambitious and challenging place to be. It will also remain proud to be part of the dynamic and beautiful city from which it grew.
Our centenary slogan is ‘Great past – greater future’. This document sets out some of the ways in which, with the support of all those who value the University, we will achieve the latter.
Professor Eric Thomas