Monday, 15 December 2008

Three year operating plan

Each year, Heads of School have to prepare a rolling three year plan. This year was particularly difficult, for two reasons. First, the University is continuing to refine the process, and this year, although the once-separate teaching and learning plan was simply rolled up as part of the main document, a research plan was prepared earlier in the year, for the first time, with a view to the feedback from that informing this operating plan, and a risk register was requested in order to demonstrate to our auditors that we are managing our risks adequately. Second. a combination of events has resulted in our need to request lots of new academic posts. Basically, this is a combination of a spate of retirements plus the massive recent expansion of our activities. We have just about doubled the size of the School in the last four years, in every aspect of our work. This is why I have to make a case for a crop of new posts. And each one has to be carefully rationalized in line with our strategy for the next few years. It was a real relief to get it submitted today, just on the deadline. Over the next few weeks, senior management of the university will read all the plans from the different Schools. In January, a group of senior staff tour the Schools, interviewing the Heads, to be sure that they understand the aims, priorities and risks. Then they can rank order a master list of all the posts requested, so that when we find out from the Higher Education Funding Council how much grant the University is to receive this year from government, the final piece of the jigsaw will be in place in terms of next year's overall financial planning. At that point, they can determine how far down the list they can go in terms of the posts requested across the University. So it is a serious business as it affects how many new staff we get to appoint next year, if any. And it takes a lot of consultation and conversations to be sure about our relative priorities within the School before we put the plan before senior management. I was pleased to have got the document drafted, edited down toe the requisite length, and then submitted. Now I wonder how far down our list of priorities we'll get, given the dreadful ever-worsening situation.


On the hill said...

I'm quite taken with the nature and subtance of your blog. I pop in now and again, partly to redress a sort of in absentia of a friend because our lives are busy and its good to read, but also to see how the thinking evolves. It occured to me today, in the process of writing a blog, does one then consolidate thinking on an issue, and if so, to what extent does it cement history? For all that is recorded, what is lost or redrawn?

Will Hughes said...

Simon, thanks for your interesting question. There is something immensely therapeutic about blogging. It is useful thing to extract the essential things out of a busy day or a busy week, and just choose something that is sufficiently clear to put here, separated from all the noise and filtered out. I tend to put it here after it is consolidated, but sometimes these thoughts are juse speculative, like the piece on ephemeral buildings, which resulted in some interesting conversations with my research team, who wanted to challenge what I'd written. It prompted a great conversation, which seemed to empower them, because they had something to go at, something to argue with. At the end of the day we decided it would make a good mull hypothesis, and I did not need to insist on it being right. So it certainly does not cement history. It provides a departure point, sometimes a record of current thoughts, but I would say it is all up for grabs.

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