Our mission

Our mission is to make a positive impact locally, nationally and globally by addressing society’s greatest challenges through our distinctive education, innovative research, and the value we place on excellence, inclusivity and partnership.

Executive summary

The University of Bristol’s 2030 strategy builds on more than a century of outstanding education, research and civic engagement. It also acknowledges the complexity of our past and the actions we need to take to be a truly inclusive institution.

Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor and President

Over the past 18 months we have explored how we build on this heritage, much of which we can be very proud, but some of which should make us determined to do better.

We have sought and distilled the collective ambition and imagination of university colleagues, students, alumni, and the wider Bristol community.

It was clear from these conversations that our overriding objective is to make a positive difference for the future, for our students and staff, for our city, our region, the nation and globally.

We see this as an opportune time for us to publish a bold strategy that will enable us to achieve our shared ambitions and secure our collective success, and that of our partners, for years to come.

What does this mean in practice? This strategy will guide our future focus and investments, underpin our civic engagement, and enable Bristol to deliver the outstanding education and research that will ensure we remain one of the best universities in the world.

We do so in the knowledge that, like many other organisations, the University of Bristol has a complex past, particularly in terms of its foundation thanks to funds that can be traced to empire, and even further back to commodities associated with the slave trade.

We need to acknowledge where we have benefitted from inequality and inequity, redoubling our efforts to create a future that is based on social justice both at home and abroad. Our commitment to addressing our legacy and our past is as heartfelt as our strategy for the future, and the one informs the other.

This strategy develops and creates a sense of focus in terms of our education, research and civic engagement. With the University of Bristol’s Students’ Union, we have reimagined our curriculum and supported new forms of assessment and feedback, enabling our students to develop their knowledge, skills and adaptability.

We have transformed our pastoral support with the introduction of Residential Life services and the Student Wellbeing service. We have improved the diversity of our student body and have ambitions to do much more, including a commitment to recruit graduates of our local Bristol schools and to ensure more Black students come to Bristol through our Black Bristol Scholarship scheme.

Our postgraduate students help us generate our world-leading research and we are delighted that we have been able to increase the number of Bristol PhD scholarships.

The most recent UK evaluation exercise, the Research Excellence Framework, judged an outstanding 94% of our research as being world-leading or internationally excellent.

We are proud that this research success is both curiosity driven and undertaken in partnership, including new initiatives such as the Perivoli Africa Research Centre which is pioneering new ways of working with universities on the African continent.

Elsewhere, we have worked with Bristol Old Vic and Bristol Archives to celebrate and bring to life the history of this most remarkable of UK theatres. Our work with the National Composite Centre addresses some of the key engineering challenges of our time. Bristol was chosen to host the Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology of Vaccine-preventable Diseases, the first centre of its kind outside of the United States.

And this year we launched Bristol Innovations, a new platform to build on our innovation strengths, unlock more of our research and expertise, accelerate the translation from idea to market, and facilitate new research partnerships with business and industry.

Our partnerships are local as well as global. Our success would not have been possible without the collective energy, commitment and talent available in the city of Bristol.

We are fortunate to be located in such a distinctive, vibrant city – one that works with us to put our research into action in everything from COVID-19 vaccine development to policy research around domestic violence.

Our community of colleagues, students, friends, supporters and partners is undoubtedly our greatest strength, and will continue to be so far beyond 2030. As the University for Bristol, we serve as a key innovation engine within our region’s ecosystem – a vital source of talent, skills, ideas, technologies, and expertise.

We ensure that the city has the doctors, dentists, engineer and other experts that it needs to be successful. Initiatives like the Barton Hill Micro-Campus provide new space and focus for us to work collaboratively with a range of civic partners and communities.

We continue to collaborate with health, educational, cultural, industrial, community and governmental organisations across our city-region. Major new developments like the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and our North Somerset Campus offer further opportunity for our region to build on its strengths and cement its reputation as a place to collaborate and innovate.

As this suggests, we have a strong platform to build upon as we look to the future. The world has changed dramatically, though, since foundations were last set in 2016.

Our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us resilience and adaptability. New technologies and emerging ways of working open up all sorts of exciting possibilities.

But as we publish this strategy in November 2022, the challenges have also become starker. The earth is warming at a dangerous pace, war has returned to Europe, financial markets are in turmoil and the post-war consensus that has given us such prosperity is fragmenting.

Universities have a key role to play in taking us all forward. We need to focus on where we, in partnership, can make the biggest difference to global problems in order to concentrate our efforts.

Given our strengths and expertise, we will take a university-wide approach to three major issues: equitable and sustainable health outcomes, net zero and climate change; and the creative and cultural industries – with underpinning themes of data and digitalization and social justice.

These will not be the only topics where the University of Bristol invests to make a difference, but they will be our core focus in the lead up to 2030.

At the heart of our approach is the belief that we can achieve so much more when we work together with others. If we are truly going to help make a difference, we must do it collaboratively, inspired by our commitment to quality and the way in which we work with others, within and outside the University.

This isn’t Bristol operating on its own; this is Bristol working with a multiplicity of partners, drawing on our resources and world-leading interdisciplinary expertise to improve and increase our impact – a model global civic institution powered by our sense of place and connections to communities.

Developing the University’s new Vision and Strategy has been an exciting and enlightening process. It has helped illuminate new ideas, insights, hopes and aspirations from across our community, which have helped to shape our plans and define our expectations. Let us realise them together.

Professor Evelyn Welch
Vice-Chancellor and President

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