Review of University’s Capital Plan launched

As Senior Vice-Principal of the University, one of my duties is to oversee the implementation of our Capital Plan – the strategic document which governs how the University spends its money. This is a significant investment, on average over £110 million per year over the next 4 years.


The Capital Plan is a rolling programme, typically giving a forward look of 10 years. The most recent major update was in 2016. This was a landmark moment for the University as it outlined our plans for our Campus Development Programme, including how we are planning to develop the site of the former Western Infirmary.

Today, we are on the cusp of seeing the first fruits of this plan, with three new, high quality buildings currently in development.


The James McCune Smith Learning Hub is due to open next year and will transform the student experience, helping to alleviate the current pressures on study spaces around campus, and creating more modern, technology-enhanced learning and teaching spaces.

The Research Hub will be a unique facility which will break down organisational silos, facilitate collaboration and enhance our world changing research impact.

And in late summer we are expecting work to begin on the Clarice Pears Building – the new home for the Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

Our Capital Plan remains an ambitious proposal which will drive the University’s growth and development going forwards. However, as with all strategic documents, it does not exist in isolation and we have a duty to keep it under review. This will ensure we can remain responsive as an institution, continuing to direct our resources towards meeting the changing demands of higher education and research, as well as utilising and integrating emerging technologies and best practice.

It ensures we remain on track to deliver truly transformational buildings.

When we outlined the scope of our Campus Development, four years ago, we knew we did not have all the answers. Inevitably, there would be more work to scope out the later phasing of the Campus Development to fully complement our other investments. This review brings us one step closer to that point.

It will give us a sound footing on which we can take some significant decisions about the future of the University. It will mean we are in the best place possible to ensure that what we build today will continue to be transformational for future generations of students.

It will also allow us to apply what we have learned over the last three years to ensure we are getting maximum value out of the programme as it stands. The review is designed to be a robust challenge to our processes, driving efficiencies and making our investment work as hard as possible for staff and students.

It is prudent that we do this as a matter of course, and I believe the time is right to do this now.

So, how does this process work? Some of you may be aware of sessions that were held last year where individuals from right across the University were asked to attend workshops to help inform the developing 2020-25 university strategy. From my point of view, it was hugely important to hear the views of our staff, and their expertise has been vital in terms of shaping the thinking around the Capital Plan, focussing on the current and future challenges and opportunities across the sector and how we should be addressing them.

As a result of these sessions, as well as further conversations and workshops with staff, SMG are now working to develop a set of proposals which will inform our Capital Plan review. We are making good progress in this process, and we anticipate these conversations to continue over the course of the summer.

When we have fully developed our proposals, the Capital Plan Review will go the University Court, who ultimately will sign-off on the proposals.

Of course, we will be keeping the University community informed at key points throughout the process as the University takes the next steps towards transformational change.

Prof Neal Juster, Senior Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice Chancellor

First published: 10 June 2019