The University of Central Lancashire has today unveiled major restructuring plans aimed at cementing its position on the global stage.
The ambitious proposals will see the institution splitting its home and overseas operations, each with their own bosses.
Preston will be the central point of the new group, setting and controlling academic standards and awards. The other elements – including the international campus developments in Cyprus, Thailand and Sri Lanka – will be managed separately.
While the University Board will oversee the activities of the entire group, the commercial management will come under a new group chief executive officer.
Outgoing vice-chancellor Dr Malcolm McVicar will steer the project through its inception as interim group chief executive officer until the new structure and a new vice-chancellor for the Preston-based University are bedded in. The “radical” move is more akin to a major company than an academic institution.
Dr McVicar said: “It is very unusual for a university to do this,” adding that it was “ambitious and dynamic”.
He said that if all went according to plan: “Preston (UCLan) will be the group headquarters of a growing and successful international group.”
The vice-chancellor said that the next 10 years will see “significant level of growth” overseas and added that, while universities were facing a difficult time, UCLan was utilising its entrepreneurial skills to grow outside the area. He said UCLan had ambitious plans for the new private university in Cyprus.
UCLan Sri Lanka is expected to open in 2014 and Thailand a year later. Other “exciting projects” at home and abroad were in the pipeline.
As part of the new structure, the university is also applying to change its legal status from a Higher Education Corporation (HEC) to becoming a Company Limited by Guarantee. This will give greater control and independence in managing its own affairs while still keeping its status as both a university and a charity.
Announcing the changes, Brian Harris, chairman of the University Board said: “The University operates in a highly dynamic landscape and we need to become more agile, both in terms of future challenges and the opportunities presented to us. Becoming a company limited by guarantee will provide us with much greater flexibility to respond to the constantly shifting political and regulatory landscape in which we operate in the UK and to take advantage of the opportunities around the globe.
“Similarly, by adopting a Group Structure we will be better equipped to manage all the activities across the group, with the university in Preston focusing on what it does best: developing and maintaining our core academic knowledge, delivering a superlative student experience enhanced by world-class research with a real-world impact.
Meanwhile the other Group companies will be able to focus on generating new revenue streams and delivering our academic provision in-country”.
He added: “In making the decisions, the Board has been very mindful of its responsibility not only for the students, alumni and staff of the university, but also for the broader role the university plays in the social and economic wellbeing of the City of Preston, the region, and all the other communities it serves. We firmly believe that the new arrangements will help secure the future of the university, safeguarding and strengthening the benefits it brings for generations to come.”
UCLan currently has 35,000 students and 3,000 staff, 37 UK partner institutions including China, India, Singapore, the USA, Nigeria, the Middle East, as well as many European countries.