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Vision

The Research and Knowledge Transfer Strategy seeks to support the University’s “pursuit of excellence and innovation through…continuous innovation and improvement...and the constant drive to secure the highest standards of quality in… the creation and application of new knowledge.”(taken from the Corporate Plan 2012)

This Research Strategy affirms the essential importance for the University of Chester of integrated excellence in teaching and research; these are twin and mutually enriching priorities. This document emphasises the strategic ambitions of pursuing a rising profile of internationally excellent research, and of extending the reach of knowledge transfer and impact, innovation and enterprise. (This strategy emphasises the importance of research to the student experience, but priorities within supervision and teaching are addressed within the new Learning and Teaching Strategy.)

Core Values

  • Excellence in research and knowledge transfer activities leads to a strong reputation for quality that enhances future research and knowledge transfer as well as the recruitment and retention of high calibre staff and enhancing the student experience at all levels of study.
  • Staff should expect, and be expected and supported, to make original and worthwhile contributions to local, regional, national and international research and knowledge transfer projects which are recognised by peers, users and policy makers to be of a high quality and represent value for
  • Excellence is achieved through dual responsibility: academics should be provided with adequate resource to achieve excellence and, in return, are required to account for their use of this resource and its demonstrable impact on the progress of research or knowledge transfer
  • Relationships built up through teaching should lead to strong partnerships with bodies with whom the University engages in knowledge transfer, contract research and consultancy.
  • The University will only offer research, consultancy and knowledge transfer services at a reasonable and competitive price that seeks to recover the institution’s full costs over its portfolio of
  • In its provision for postgraduate research and professional doctorate students, the University aims to ensure excellence in the quality of supervision, skills training, learning resources and

The management and support for high quality research and knowledge transfer is underpinned by the work of a Graduate School and Research and Knowledge Transfer Office.

Context

This strategy aims to facilitate research and knowledge transfer, and its management within the University, by identifying the key objectives which will inform and shape policy and operational planning during the next five-year planning period.

The University recognises that there are a number of institutional and external factors which will influence the development of its strategic objectives relating to research and knowledge transfer. These include:

  • continued expansion of postgraduate research activities;
  • developing links and building on existing partnerships between the University and health and education services, and the commercial, public, voluntary and charitable sectors;
  • changes to government funding policies and mechanisms;
  • the maximisation of opportunities afforded through the recent strategic acquisition;
  • continuing competition for external funding, the requirements of Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) and full economic costing (fEC) and their implications on the pricing of externally funded projects;
  • the role of management data internally and externally (e.g. key performance indicators, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)/Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction survey (HE-BCI) data);
  • availability of R&D funds in SMEs, charities and similar.

Strategic priorities will, by necessity, continue to be reviewed in the light of future developments within the University, the sector and externally.

Key strategic objectives

Within the overarching aim to foster externally recognised excellence in research and knowledge transfer, over the period of this strategy the University will seek to develop and publicise its research profile both in the UK and internationally, and support and extend the research environment by:

  • ensuring that all academic staff expect to undertake and disseminate excellent research and knowledge transfer, feel that their research and knowledge transfer activities are valued by their peers, the University, and the wider community, and are accordingly provided with adequate support and resources by their department, faculty and the University;
  • developing researchers through all stages of their careers and supporting excellent researchers;
  • promoting an environment within which staff and students are able, encouraged and facilitated to translate their research and entrepreneurial activities into effective technology, knowledge transfer and exchange services to business, industry and other potential users and apply research within the community;
  • sustaining and developing the quality of the institution’s research environment to ensure the continued support of the University’s academic staff and research students;
  • ensuring that all academic staff appointments take account of departmental research strategy alongside the teaching needs of the subject area;
  • monitoring data from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and other exercises, in line with the requirements of the Equality Act, to produce an action plan with the aim of ensuring equality of access, provision and entitlement for all;
  • meeting fully all the external expectations in relation to governance, ethics, data management and HR excellence in the development and management of researchers;
  • promoting and sharing good practice in knowledge transfer activity, particularly for the economic, social and cultural well-being of the region;
  • maximising the external income earned to support research and knowledge transfer activities through increased numbers of awarded grants and contracts and the progressively greater percentage fEC recovery over the institution’s portfolio of externally funded work;
  • continuing to develop and enhance doctoral programmes and promote a national and international reputation for excellent provision;
  • recognising creative    outputs,    practice-as-research   and    interdisciplinary    research alongside ‘traditional’ research;
  • managing workload to optimise teaching and research activity, e.g. planning timetables so that blocks of research time can be created;
  • supporting the growth within the University of areas of world-leading and discipline- shaping research excellence.

Key indicators of success

Successful implementation of the Strategy will be reflected by:

  • a pervasive research culture which inspires and enables innovative research, in which academic staff expect to undertake and disseminate excellent research and knowledge transfer and receive due recognition from peers, the University and the wider community for achievements in these areas;
  • innovative educational research to support teaching and learning activities;
  • the availability of adequate resource to enable staff to commence and continue research and knowledge transfer projects;
  • the effective implementation of a transparent system to ensure staff are accountable for their use of resources;
  • strengthening of external ratings and increasing the value of grants and contracts;
  • increasing funding for research infrastructure and equipment;
  • demonstrable capacity-building and commitment to the increased quality and volume of original outputs (including both traditional research and artistic outputs) in all areas;
  • increasing collaborative projects between the University of Chester staff and staff of other universities (both in the UK and internationally);
  • progressively increased percentage fEC recovery over the institution’s portfolio of externally funded projects;
  • sustainable growth in research student registrations and maintained completion rates and improved completion times.

Risks

The key risks that could impact on the institution’s success in achieving its strategic objectives include:

  • misinterpretation of research assessments and league tables which do not always recognise the quality of the University’s research and knowledge transfer activity;
  • neglect of the institution’s existing strengths by new external policy initiatives;
  • risk of poor applications and reputational damage and the importance of aligning applications with the University’s capacity to deliver a high quality outcome;
  • the challenge to change the culture in academic areas that have previously focussed primarily on teaching and scholarship to engage in research, knowledge transfer and commercial activities;
  • risk of inability to provide the environment and stimulus to change this culture;
  • inadequate support provided to staff to ensure delivery to deadline of high quality research and knowledge transfer;
  • concentration of Government funding elsewhere and constraints from the economic downturn on budgets;
  • impact of undergraduate tuition fees on postgraduate aspirations;
  • risk of any perceived binary divide on the recruitment and retention of researchers;
  • undervaluing of creative/artistic outputs and practice as research;
  • inability to retain key staff as a result of the above.