Strategic plan 2021-2026

A plan for sustainable and transformative change.

Students sit and chat in a leafy quad on a sunny day

An introduction from the Vice-Chancellor

I am immensely proud to introduce Lancaster University’s Strategic plan to 2026. Its theme C one of delivering transformative change Clooks forward to a world where universities like Lancaster will need a strategy that is sharply focused in its goals and values-led in its execution in order to succeed in an environment that will be more competitive and resource-constrained than the previous decade.

We build adiabatically on the success of our previous strategies, which have reinforced the pre-eminence of our research mission as the distinctive engine of the change we seek to create. We celebrate the characteristics that make Lancaster distinctive, including our strong tradition of interdisciplinary research founded upon strong subject areas, our commitment to excellence and inclusivity in all that we do, our status as a pioneer institution and our desire to act as a force for good, committed to creating a better world. Our creation of new knowledge animates our teaching, underpins our engagement and is of intrinsic significance in its scholarship and reach. The objective of delivering the highest quality research will be the 'north star' that guides us through the times ahead.

In presenting the new strategy, we should not lose sight of all we achieved under the previous strategy. Since 2015 we have grown in reach and scale. Our new campus in Leipzig and our investment in University Academy 92 literally opens new doors to continental Europe and to widening participation in under-represented groups. We achieved our stated ambition to grow student numbers to 15,000, and our income growth has allowed us to invest in more staff. All this has been accomplished while enhancing quality and reputation. We have achieved Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework, a regular top ten ranking in each of the three main UK league tables. We have been named the University of the Year 2018 and International University of the Year 2020 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. We have much to be proud of and ambition to do yet more.

The path to formulating the strategy has been highly consultative, involving workshops and conversations, questionnaires and feedback, with a wide variety of engagement from both within and outside the University. The timing C written in the midst of a global pandemic C has served to emphasise some of the threats and uncertainty on the sector, from high dependence on single sources of income to disruption of much we had previously relied on. Yet, it has also demonstrated our capability to be innovative and nimble in what we do and how we do it and our ability to tackle global problems while simultaneously supporting our local community. At its heart, this University is about people, which is why the values aspect of the strategy has come to the fore. It also recognises many distinctive features of Lancaster: a collegiate university, the loyalty and commitment of staff, the emphasis on attracting students with the capacity to succeed independent of background, and leading the way in our commitment to environmental sustainability, to mention just a few.

The challenges the world faces are mirrored in many that we see regionally. Our mission is to be a force for good by bringing together communities to engage, inform and transform. We have combined diverse disciplines to make powerful teams and forge partnerships for education and research all over the world. We educate and equip our students for a fulfilling life, and we seek to build economic growth and wellbeing in the region. By doing these things well, we will continue to grow our national and international reputation and will thrive on the opportunities before us.

Professor Andy Schofield, Vice-Chancellor
Professor Andy Schofield, Vice-Chancellor


Our Vision is to be a university that is globally significant - a sector leader and innovator that delivers the highest quality research, teaching and student experience, and that engages locally, nationally, and internationally.


Our Purpose is to advance knowledge, wisdom and understanding through the excellence of our teaching and research. By engaging with others, we will use our collective intellectual and wider capabilities as a force for good and create positive economic, cultural, societal and environmental change.


In pursuit of our Vision and in keeping with our Purpose, we work to uphold our Values:

  • We respect each other by being open and fair and promoting diversity
  • We build strong communities by working effectively together in a supportive way
  • We create positive change by being ambitious in our learning, expertise and action

Overarching goals

To maximise the transformative impact of all that we do we have identified three overarching goals that drive our strategy.

To be recognised as a global leader amongst universities

Our primary goal is to consolidate Lancaster University's status as a leading global research-intensive university. We define global leadership as being a "go to" university for research, teaching and engagement that is widely respected for its record of transforming lives, communities, practice and thinking in countries across the globe. We will measure this goal by making further progress towards a top 100 position in key global rankings of universities. Already ranked within the world top 100 on many objective measures, further developing our global visibility and reputation will be critical to achieving this aim.

To advance our strong national profile

We will seek to consolidate and sustain our position and profile as a leading UK university, delivering a high-quality education and wider student experience, stimulating and shaping the national higher education and research agendas, policy development and public thinking. We will be a source and a driver of new thinking and practice that improves communities, culture, society and the economy. We will measure this by monitoring our position in national rankings of UK higher education institutions.

Accelerate our transformative impact in the communities in which we operate

By focusing on high-value, high-impact projects that exploit our interdisciplinarity and our subject strengths across the institution, we will seek to increase our transformative impact on thinking and practice in the communities in which we operate. Working collaboratively with our partners for mutual benefit, we aim to have global impact across a range of communities encompassing disciplines, localities, regions, nations, policy, practice and thought. We will measure this via our performance in the UK's Knowledge Exchange Framework.

Living our values

These three exemplars indicate how, in core areas of strategic development, we will put our values to respect each other, build strong communities and create positive change at the heart of what we do.

Our strategic priorities

Our drivers

Our drivers identify six thematic, cross-cutting and high-priority activities that will enable and support the delivery of this strategy.