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Our Strategic Ambitions

Three interconnected changes of equal priority to deliver our Vision

Our Strategy sets out three interconnected Strategic Ambitions of equal priority that will deliver our Vision, be distinctive and make a difference to our communities. These are the most significant changes we will make between 2024 and 2030. They apply to all of our academic disciplines and - as appropriate - our regional, national and global activity.



strategic ambitions infographic

We want all of our students to realise their ambitions after they complete their studies. We will play our part in the pipeline of talent and skills needed for the economy and society, especially in the North East of England, where our students already fill almost a quarter of highly skilled jobs. We aim to raise the prospects of all our students.

Embedding experiential learning – including work-based learning – into study, will enhance students’ post-university prospects by helping to build skills and social capital. We will enable every on-campus undergraduate student to benefit from experiential learning (such as clinics, live projects, degree apprenticeships, placements, research opportunities, international student mobility) as part of their studies. One or more of these opportunities will be an integral part of every undergraduate programme by September 2025. We will investigate how the offer can be extended to other modes and levels of study, with a particular focus on those who currently have less developed social capital or networks to help access to employment opportunities.

We will work with our students and potential students to improve onboarding support and to clearly set out the expectations and benefits of experiential learning. Building on our current strong relationships, we will increase employer and alumni engagement to develop our curricula and to source opportunities for experiential learning that will benefit our students.

Northumbria has transformed over the last decade. It has grown its research to rise to 23rd in the UK for research power and 58th for research quality (Research Excellence Framework 2021). We will continue this journey so that high-quality research is pervasive, improving the quality and impact of our research across all subject areas at scale to help tackle the regional, national and global challenges that we face. By doing so, we will secure substantially more external funding to support our work, a marker of relevance, quality, and a means to fund expansion of our research activities.

Research will continue to enrich our taught programmes, with research-active academics providing an empowering academic experience for our students, inspiring them, and engaging them with their studies. Students will have even more opportunities to engage directly in research, including through experiential learning with our research partners.

Our commitment to knowledge exchange adds purpose to our education and research and by growing its scale, we will co-create value for our stakeholders and communities everywhere. Knowledge exchange will deliver sustainable impact that benefits society, the economy, and the environment. Through a supportive environment in which knowledge exchange thrives, we will be the partner of choice for civic and industry stakeholders.

Higher education transforms lives. At Northumbria University, research-enriched taught programmes, all of which will have experiential learning embedded in them by 2025, help students from all backgrounds to achieve their ultimate ambitions. But fewer students from low participation backgrounds find their way into highly skilled jobs or further study that can open up new opportunities and transform their lives. Our aim is to eliminate that difference, so that all of our students have the same likelihood of success after completing their studies. Experiential learning will be especially advantageous for these students, many of whom are first in family to go to university. It will help those who currently lack the social capital or networks to access employment opportunities. But it will not be enough on its own. We will further tailor our education offer so that how and when we teach better meets the needs of students. We will enhance onboarding and enable better access to student services and support with cost of living and mental health. Support will better meet the needs of different groups of students and educational analytics will enable us to direct it to those most in need. These changes will provide equitable help for students to stay at Northumbria, complete their degree and succeed in their post-study ambitions.

We will also make sure that we maintain the same proportion of undergraduate students recruited from low participation backgrounds. Our ambition is to ignite aspiration, remove barriers for the communities that we serve and offer routes for students from all backgrounds to access and succeed in higher education. Maintaining our access performance will be a challenge, not least because of cost of living pressures for students and limited prospects of fundamental reforms to student maintenance funding. We are committed to meeting these challenges. We will specifically evolve our own education offer to respond to demand from groups to study in different ways, for example by growing degree apprenticeships where possible. In recognising our civic responsibility and the lower participation rate in the North East, we will support prospective students to consider higher education wherever they choose to study.

We will explicitly embed our ambitions for access and success in our student recruitment, education and research, while maintaining the academic excellence that we have fostered over the last decade. These ambitions will apply wherever we operate. In London we will recruit and support more students from the local community near our campus and, overseas, our TNE activity will support access to UK higher education for those unable to travel to the UK.


Featuring our current staff, students, alumni and partners, these stories bring our strategy to life.

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