Author: Arif Mahmud, Project Officer – University of Portsmouth

The HEFCE Changing Mindsets project is a partnership of five institutions. Lead by the University of Portsmouth, the partnership also includes the University of Brighton, the University of Winchester, the University of Arts London and Canterbury Christ Church University. All five partners value diversity and have clear strategic priorities that align with this project, making it possible to easily embed the intervention at each institution. The HEFCE Changing Mindsets project is fully supported by the five vice chancellors of the project institutions, making clear the strong university wide commitment each partner has made. As an introduction to each project partner, each of the five Project Officers will write a brief blog post about why this project fits well with their institution.

 

Why the Changing Mindsets project fits at the University of Portsmouth?

 

As is written in the University of Portsmouth’s vision statement, “we respect and celebrate diversity and equal opportunity through an inclusive culture.” The University strategic vision includes promoting ‘equality, diversity and well-being’ and creating ‘an environment where research, innovation and educational activities have transformational benefits for students, staff and society’, all of which fit within the impact goals of the Changing Mindsets intervention. Within the University of Portsmouth Access Agreement, we have confirmed our commitment to “promote opportunity and achievement in higher education, bringing life-changing benefits to individuals, their families and the wider community”. The strategic ambitions stated within the Access Agreement make clear that, as a university, “we will make a positive, clear and significant contribution to encouraging, extending, and sustaining the engagement of learners, and to inspiring and enabling their access to and success in higher education”. This includes a commitment to increase the university participation of underrepresented student groups, including the number of undergraduates from BME backgrounds and from low participation neighbourhoods.

The University of Portsmouth’s Education Strategy for 2016-2020 declares our commitment to ‘maintain high academic standards for educational provision, develop a reputation for a distinctive student experience and systematically enhance the quality of learning opportunities’. This project aligns with a number of the hallmarks of a Portsmouth graduate, which highlights the university’s commitment to educating graduates who will:

  • Have a critical and reflective knowledge and understanding of their subject, with both the ability and readiness to question its principles, practices and boundaries.
  • Think independently, analytically and creatively, and engage imaginatively with new areas of investigation within and across discipline boundaries.
  • Be able to synthesise new and existing knowledge to generate ideas and develop creative solutions of benefit to the economy and society. Be intellectually curious, embrace challenges and seize opportunities for development.
  • Be able to locate, access and critically engage with information, using current and emerging digital technologies.
  • Be informed citizens, with a sense of responsibility allied to a commitment to ethical practice and social justice issues, such as equality, respect and sustainability.
  • Be effective team players, able to provide leadership and to support the success of others.
  • Be able to communicate clearly and effectively, in a range of forms and to different audiences.
  • Have an enterprising spirit, bringing innovation and productivity to the groups and communities to which they belong.
  • Be able to work in a range of environments, responding positively to new situations by being aware, flexible, adaptable and realistic in their expectations.
  • Be proactive in recognising and addressing personal development needs, and able to make informed career decisions.
This strategic alignment has been further confirmed by the University of Portmsouth being recently awarded a prestigious ‘Gold’ rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework, the UK’s first assessment of teaching excellence in higher education. The University of Portsmouth is one of only four universities in the South East region to be rated gold, along with the Universities of Kent, Oxford and Surrey. This achievement sees the University ranked among the top 20 per cent of the 299 HE and FE providers in the UK who entered the Teaching Excellence Framework. The University credits its success to offering a distinctive student experience and outstanding support for its students in courses designed to prepare students for successful careers.

Alongside the new Gold rating, the University’s outstanding student experience has been reflected in its steady rise in a range of independent guides and awards. It was ranked 37th in the 2018 Guardian University Guide. The University rose five places to 56th in the 2018 Complete University Guide. For the third consecutive year, Portsmouth was ranked in the top 100 young universities in the world, in the Times Higher Education ranking of universities which are less than 50 years old. Additionally, the annual Destination of Leavers in Higher Education reported that over 96% of University of Portsmouth graduates are finding jobs or continuing with their studies within six months of graduating. The University of Portsmouth also does more to boosts its graduates’ earnings that any other university. The Economist’s own ranking of UK universities reported that five years after graduation the average University of Portsmouth graduate earns £3,100 (or 13 per cent) above expectations. In comparison, the average University of Oxford graduate earns £1,900 (or 5 per cent) above expectations.

This project aligns with the university’s strategic priorities and commitments to creating a learning experience where all students may thrive. With student experience at the heart of our strategic priorities at the University of Portsmouth, this project has the potential to have a direct and significant impact on the students, staff and the wider community.

 

Disclaimer:  the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog post belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the values of the University of Portsmouth or the extended Partnership.

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