The Goldsmiths Strategic Plan

In this section


Our Mission, Values and Strategy

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An introduction from the Warden

Goldsmiths has a rich heritage of the highest standards of research, teaching and practice. This finds academic expression in a remarkable range of original thinking and of innovative interdisciplinary collaborations. Our recent success in the QS World University Rankings, which saw us in the UK’s top 20 universities for Arts and Humanities and in the UK’s top 30 for Social Sciences and Management, is a testament to our academic success.

Our particularly generous access agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating opportunities for students from all backgrounds and, importantly, reflects our presence in the borough of Lewisham.

A new strategic plan must build on these strengths while addressing our operational challenges. A fundamental issue we face is the relatively small scale of the College, with 5313 undergraduates and 2845 postgraduates and 1500 staff. We are amongst the smallest of the multi-faculty universities. Goldsmiths achieves academic and cultural coherence but our operational costs are much the same as those of a significantly larger university. We have a compact single-site campus but an estate and IT infrastructure which demand continued significant investment to provide the best possible student experience now and in the future.

Major investments are difficult to find in this turbulent and uncertain funding environment. Consequently our future planning, which has involved staff and students from across the College, places a clear emphasis on identifying new academic ventures and new ways of working that would not just bolster our reputation but also bring financial benefit.

A strategic plan is an essential part of a modern university. It helps align energy and ambition. At a time of unprecedented change in higher education in the UK, the need for coherent planning is obvious. All of us at Goldsmiths can now reassert our mission (why we are here) and our core values (how we behave), and frame them in the four pillars that give expression to Goldsmiths’ lasting goals. We see excellence in research and teaching as inseparable and complementary strengths. We are proud of our roots in South East London and from that inclusive foundation we will build our position as global leaders in our sector. Enriching the student experience in all its forms is critical to our future as, of course, is doing all that is necessary to ensure our financial sustainability.

While the pillars stand and are sustained by the test of time, the strategic aims are transitory and set our measurable direction of travel for the next five years. Many of our strategic aims derive from an assessment of “where we are now” and of how we performed against our last aims, set in 2005.

This plan is the product of a great deal of consultation and discussion throughout the College and beyond. It is not an event but an ongoing process of development and change. It is not a detailed blueprint of all of our activities, but our best attempt to map out a broad set of initiatives, which will help the College thrive.

It is not a glossy book to capture a moment in time, but a working document that will evolve in our ever-changing environment. I’m looking forward to seeing your comments and thoughts on the plan, and encourage you all to share freely together shaping the continued story of this great College.

Patrick Loughrey


We offer a transformative experience, generating knowledge and stimulating self-discovery through creative, radical and intellectually rigorous thinking and practice.


Our Mission is under­pinned by the fol­low­ing values:

Achieving academic excellence
  • Pursuing intellectual curiosity
  • Encouraging the highest standards of research and practice
  • Building on our diverse strengths through interdisciplinary imagination
  • Maximising the interaction of teaching and research
Radical and innovative thinking
  • Cultivating a unique and creative approach to all our subjects
  • Daring to think differently and to challenge the norms
  • Embracing new ideas with energy and reflection
Respecting the individual
  • Encouraging individuality and nurturing talent
  • Enabling freedom of thought and expression
  • Nurturing an environment of openness and tolerance
Promoting access and diversity
  • Enabling a wide range of people to benefit from our learning opportunities
  • Recruiting students and staff from all backgrounds and experiences
  • Strengthening our local connections as we extend our international reach
Supporting our students and staff
  • Creating a responsive and collaborative learning environment
  • Providing inspiring opportunities for personal and social development
  • Enhancing the life skills of employable and enterprising global citizens
Creating change, locally and globally
  • Being socially aware and socially engaged
  • Actively promoting sustainability
  • Fostering a social and intellectual community within, and beyond, Goldsmiths

The four strategic pillars

Pillar 1 - Knowledge Production

The College’s primary concern is the production of knowledge. Here, Goldsmiths’ hallmark is a theoretical, creative and practical engagement with how humans experience, understand and interact with the world.

Knowledge production is a collaborative process. It encompasses learning, teaching, practice, research, communication and application. It involves students at all levels, academic staff, the broader research community, society, industry, and government – all on a global scale. It is grounded on disciplinary expertise and generated through conversation between cognate and complementary subjects — past and present — the academy and the world in which it is situated.


Increase the diversity, flexibility and sustainability of our degree programmes

We want to ensure that across the curriculum, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, students are able to learn from different departments, to broaden their education. We must ensure that our programmes continue to be informed by the outcomes of our research. We also need to make sure that we run the modules that students most want to take. The academic review strand of the Goldsmiths 2015 programme will help to achieve this. We’ll measure our success at departmental level in accordance with this strategic aim.

Build on our record of world-leading and high impact research

Our productivity in generating new knowledge through original research, shaping academic and public thinking and influencing developments in society, is both core to our identity and crucial to our ability to flourish in the future. It enables us to attract the highest calibre staff as well as able and motivated students from all backgrounds, and underpins our mutually beneficial interaction with the wider community. We must sustain and build on our achievements to date, ensuring that our success and reputation are reflected in prominent positions in key national and international league tables – most notably the 2014 Research Excellence Framework – and that our staff are increasingly proactive in varied forms of public engagement.

Launch at least one significant academic initiative

There are opportunities for the College to expand its academic range, with new disciplines, programmes and research. This helps the College to increase its scale, which contributes to sustainability, and also improves the academic offer to students. Arising from the work of the Blue Skies group, we are exploring three possible academic initiatives – a management school; a liberal arts degree; and expansion of CAST into commercial research. We do not rule out other ideas, in addition to or instead of the three ideas developed so far. We will measure our success by whether at least one initiative has been launched, and its academic and financial success.

Increase and enrich postgraduate research

Postgraduate research underpins the College’s commitment to knowledge production. Many of the most rewarding and exciting opportunities for postgraduate research arise in the interdisciplinary spaces between our departments. We will expand the range of academic activities within the Graduate School, to fertilise new areas of academic research, practice and discourse, and we will change and simplify processes to remove barriers to students working across departments. Our success will be measured by the number of postgraduate research students at the College.

Increase collaborative research, knowledge exchange and consultancy

The College will seek to engage better with the outside world, so as to share the fruits of our research. We will bring together our research office and our business development office to provide better support to academic staff, and we will simplify the framework within which academic staff can undertake consultancy. We will provide better information about the College’s academic work and staff research interests, to encourage these partnerships. We will measure our success by the number of collaborative research projects; by income generated by knowledge transfer activities; and by the extent and range of our consultancy work.

Pillar 2 - London and the World

Goldsmiths’ presence in a culturally-rich global capital is vital to how it operates.

There are close ties with the local community in SE London. From this base, Goldsmiths branches out across the capital, and beyond, in a series of mutually beneficial relationships with: business, social and creative industries, public and third sector organizations, local and national governments.

These links enhance knowledge production and the student experience, via placements and internships for students; collaborative research; enriched teaching; consultancy advice; innovation partnerships and specialized training.


Attract more students from Lewisham and from South East London

We will develop our partnerships with local schools and further education colleges, so more students see Goldsmiths as an attractive possibility for higher study. We will target our financial outreach measures – bursaries and fee waivers – on local areas, and set challenging targets in our Access Agreement with OFFA. We will measure our success by whether or not we meet those targets.

Develop partnerships with London-based organisations

We will build partnerships with London-based organisations across our academic departments. These may be programme-related, involving student placements, or research-related, involving research collaboration and knowledge transfer. We do this to ensure  we deliver upon our mission to transmit our knowledge, and also to ensure that we play a part, and are recognised for so doing, within London’s cultural and economic life. We will measure our success by the number and range of partnerships created.

Develop the College’s international focus

Our international focus has three strands: educating Goldsmiths students from across the world, partnering with universities and colleges in other countries to provide education, and undertaking research with an international focus and with partners in other countries. We will work to increase the numbers of students from other countries at Goldsmiths, and also to develop our international partnership arrangements. We will measure our success by the extent of the College’s international reach, measured by its student population.

Pillar 3 - Student Experience

Goldsmiths’ student body is richly diverse. It is international and wide-ranging in terms of age, educational, occupational and social backgrounds. Embracing such eclecticism is part of Goldsmiths’ distinctive identity. It means enabling all students to participate in knowledge production and supporting them effectively. It means equipping them with the kinds of skills, experience and connections that will help them to make sense of the world and find the work they want in a fast-changing environment.


Improve student satisfaction

Student satisfaction with Goldsmiths is critical to the College: it is how we fulfil our mission and it is how we ensure our reputation continues to grow. In line with our commitment to research-informed teaching, we will seek to engage students as fellow members in a community of learning. We will in each year identify – using National Student Survey data, our own survey data and student websites – specific aspects of the student experience which we can improve upon. This may involve work within academic departments, or within support departments and infrastructure. We will measure our success by our changing outcomes in the National Student Survey.

Improve our library provision

The library, with its books, journals, IT and media equipment and an expanding variety of electronic resources, is at the heart of the College. A better library will directly influence the quality of academic work within the College, for both students and staff. We will improve our library provision, with increased opening hours and, as resources permit, we will seek to increase per-student spend on library holdings. We will measure our success by changes to the length of opening hours and by the annual spend on stock per student.

Open a student centre

We will make it easier for students to transact administrative business with, and gain access to support from, the College. A student centre, which brings services together in one place, with greater integration of service delivery, will enable this. We will open a student centre in the Richard Hoggart Building in 2011-12 and, during that and the following year, we will increase the integration of services delivered to students. We will measure our success by the opening and operation of the student centre and by relevant National Student Survey outcomes.

Improve graduate employability

We will work to enable our students to increase their employability. We will do this educationally, by changes in learning and teaching, supported where appropriate by selective curriculum changes, we will do this through the provision of careers support, and we will do this by increasing the number of placement opportunities during programmes of study. We will measure our success by student outcomes in the national DLHE employment survey. We will also seek to influence changes in how such surveys work, recognising that in our disciplines, employment patterns stabilise not in the months but in the years following graduation.

Improve the College's estate and infrastructure

We will make the College's estate better suit its academic needs, so that it becomes a better environment in which to learn and work. We will do this by increasing the amount we invest each year in its maintenance and improvement; by reducing the size of our estate by selling properties on the edge of the campus; and by improving the efficiency with which we use the space. These three actions will help ensure that we get the most out of our increased investment. We will measure our success by the proportion of our buildings which are in good condition, and by the extent to which our efficiency in space use matches the best in the sector.

Pillar 4 - Financial Sustainability

Financial sustainability enables Goldsmiths to exist as an autonomous, self-determining institution and fulfill the obligations of its Charter. Long-term financial security is essential for Goldsmiths to be able to enact its core purpose. By the same token, activities in support of excellence in knowledge production, the student experience and engagement with London and the world must be financially sustainable.


Ensure that the College remains financially sustainable

Our plan requires increased investment in some areas of activity. Whilst some of the cash necessary for this will be delivered by growth in activity, some will arise through re-allocation from established patterns of spending. We will develop and implement a financial strategy which increases the resources available for investment in the student experience (specifically the library and the estate and IT infrastructure) by delivering an annual surplus on the income and expenditure account in line with HEFCE expectations. This will require a budgeting process which enables re-allocation of resources; a sensible and managed approach to debt during uncertain financial times; and increased financial accountability throughout the College. We will measure our success by the surpluses we make each year on our income and expenditure account.

Make the College’s operation more efficient

Efficient operations enable the College to achieve more of its academic goals. We will undertake a College-wide process of renewal – the Goldsmiths 2015 project – to identify areas for improvement in our activities, covering academic and administrative issues, and seeking simplicity and sustainability. We will measure our success by benchmarking against others in the sector.



2014 Performance

2014 Benchmark

Research grant and contract income

£5.941 million


PhD Completion numbers



NSS Student Survey score

(Overall Satisfaction)



Non-Continuation rate



Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (Proportion of respondents in work or further study)



Percentage of students from different demographic groups

State Schools



Low Participation Neighbourhoods



NS-SEC 4 -7



In Receipt of DSA




£92.7 million

£197.2 million

Staff costs as a proportion of total income



Operating surplus

£6.622 million
(surplus of 6.8%)

£5.958 million
(surplus of 3.0%)

Number of days cash (liquidity)



Proportion of PhDs awarded per proportion of academic staff costs



Proportion of research grants and contracts obtained per proportion of academic staff costs



NSS Student Survey Score

(Learning Resources)



Space Usage



Staff Student Ratio


18.4 (Sector Avg)

Expenditure per Student



Average Entry Tariff Scores


351.1 (Sector Avg)

New Students










Implementing our Plan

The Goldsmiths 2015 Programme will create a more responsive, effective and stimulating working environment for all staff.  Such an environment will be necessary if the College is to achieve the aims of its new Strategic Plan.

The overall objectives are:

  • To engender a positive culture change in Goldsmiths which involves the whole College in generating new ways of working in the future that will improve working lives, enhance collegiality and benefit what we do
  • To ensure that Goldsmiths can survive and thrive with minimal government funding in the new higher education environment
  • To reduce the annual cost base of the College by an initial minimum target of £3m (approx 5%) of expenditure by 2012/13
  • To enable Goldsmiths to make future surpluses to invest in its infrastructure, academic practice and the student experience

The success of the programme will depend on:

  • The willingness of all colleagues to contribute to generating ideas for change and get involved in the projects undertaken in implementing the changes
  • People’s awareness and understanding of the positive culture change and environment the programme is intended to engender leadership and support from senior staff across the College and engagement from colleagues at all levels with the programme



The streamlining and, where appropriate, standardisation of processes, procedures and structures to establish more responsive and effective working practices.

Academic review

Ensuring a stimulating academic environment for students and staff through creating a collegiate and responsive approach to content and delivery, focusing on the particular strengths of Goldsmiths and our core mission values.


Ensuring the College’s on-going financial security and ability to invest in its infrastructure and enhance the environment for teaching, learning and research by minimising unnecessary costs, maximising return on spending, investing wisely and taking a more robust and financially considered approach

Engagement and communication

Providing full information about the changes taking place and enabling all staff to contribute to those changes