One University

We will build a diverse community of staff and students from a broad range of backgrounds, demographics and cultures, and create an inclusive, supportive and collaborative environment in which they can succeed and flourish.

Three students sat talking at a table with hot drinks

Priority one: Collaborative & supportive culture

We foster a collaborative culture where staff and students are all active participants in the success of the University.

In collaboration with staff groups and our campus trade unions, we developed a new staff Code of Conduct. This new code translates our values into practical day-to-day expectations and guides how we work with each other, our students and our external partners.

A huge area of focus for this year has been improving progression and development opportunities for colleagues and postgraduate research students. We launched a new learning management system, myDevelopment, providing a central hub for all learning, development and training.

Our new Shared Skills Framework sets out the skills and behaviours colleagues can expect to demonstrate at different grades. We also introduced our first professional services career routes that outline the specialist skills of roles and the development activities to help colleagues acquire them. Together, the new framework and career routes provide guidance for colleagues on navigating their career and progression at the University.

Priority two: Diversity & Inclusion

We continue to build a diverse community of staff and students that recognises and values the abilities, backgrounds, beliefs and ways of living for everyone. Our culture ensures all members of the University community feel they belong and are treated with respect.

Our diversity and inclusion work focuses on creating a supportive environment where everyone in our University community can thrive.

Building on our strong foundations, we launched our Religion, Belief and No-Belief strategy, setting out how we will create a sense of belonging for those whose religion, belief and no-belief forms an important part of their identity. We also refreshed our LGBT+ strategy, helping to create an inclusive university for our LGBT+ community and address the challenges experienced by lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff and students.

We continue to progress our work to tackle racial inequalities. We are submitting an application for the Race Equality Charter Bronze Award to benchmark our progress to date and identify actions for tangible change.

Since the launch of our Disability Equality Strategy and Action Plan, we have been focused on improving the experiences of our disabled staff and students. We have recruited a Staff Disability Advisor, who provides specialist advice and guidance about disability in the workplace to all colleagues; introduced a new Reasonable Adjustments Passport, a living record of adjustments agreed between a staff member and their manager to support them at work; and joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme to raise awareness about invisible disabilities.

As we look ahead, we will continue to work with colleagues and students to progress the activities set out in all our action plans. This will include implementing new Inclusive Design Principles which will set out our commitment to inclusive design for newbuild and major refurbishment projects, how we will continue to go beyond building regulations, and what best practice looks like for us at Sheffield.

Priority three: Wellbeing

We continue to create a positive environment that supports and encourages the wellbeing of our staff and students, whilst empowering individuals to be responsible for their own wellbeing.

An area of focus has been on mental health and providing staff and students with appropriate support and advice. Our One University Mental Health strategy focuses on providing effective and accessible mental health services and proactive interventions.

Our model of mental health support focuses on tailored interventions for each individual’s circumstances. Utilising this approach, we’ve established an in-house Staff Mental Health Adviser Service to provide specialist and tailored advice and support to colleagues. As part of the service, we have appointed a Staff Mental Health Adviser to support colleagues in accessing supportive interventions.

Building on our previous work, we have undertaken the assessment process as part of the Student Minds Mental Health Charter Framework, allowing us to identify the strengths of practice and the areas for development. Using the findings from this process we will translate these into activities that will form an action plan outlining our continued improvement of support for colleagues and students.

We know that workload is a very real issue for some colleagues. We have agreed a set of workload allocation principles and these are now being adopted by every academic department, and have set up a working group to help address some of the issues faced by professional services colleagues. We are also taking steps to address the issue of workload volume and have provided strategic investment for academic departments that have recruited large numbers of additional students.

Mental Health Charter Award

In July, we were awarded the University Mental Health Charter Award from Student Minds – the UK’s student mental health charity. Sheffield is one of seven universities recognised with the Charter Award. The Charter Award recognises universities that promote good mental health and demonstrate excellent practice. Student Minds commended several areas as examples of excellent practice, including our University Health Service.

Priority four: Sustainability

We are continuing our work to make Sheffield one of the most sustainable research-intensive universities in the country.

Over the past year, we have opened new pocket parks built with recycled materials, planted an additional 400 trees on campus and invested in efficiency measures in our buildings to save around 2,000MWh of energy per year, roughly equivalent to 135 UK homes.

We have also secured over £2.5 million of external funding to progress a pipeline of carbon reduction projects that will eliminate gas combustion entirely from selected properties on our estate.

We opened our most sustainable building ever. The Wave, which is the new home for our Faculty of Social Sciences, operates with ‘net zero’ emissions. Ground-source heat pumps will provide heating in the winter and cooling in summer and solar panels are used to generate electricity. This, and all other new buildings on campus, are now driven by our Sustainable Buildings Standard, developed in-house to ensure that all future developments on campus abide by strict sustainability standards.

We are encouraging staff and students to live more sustainably through schemes such as Vytal, a reusable cup hire app available in our cafes, and Betterpoints, which rewards users for cycling, walking and taking public transport to and around campus. Betterpoints users have walked over one million miles and cycled over six million miles, to help save around 700 tonnes of CO2.

The app has been so successful at the University that Sheffield City Council have now joined the scheme and are in the process of rolling the programme out to the entire city.

Most of our campus is still reliant on natural gas for heating. It is both an environmental and security imperative that this reliance is reduced and we switch to electric heating systems. A decarbonisation strategy and plan is currently being developed and will be published later in 2024.

Top 50 in the world and top 10 in the UK for action on sustainability

We were ranked 8th in the UK and 42nd in the world for our work on sustainable development in the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. The rankings assess universities’ work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We scored full marks on a range of metrics, including support for student and community food programmes, high percentage of students with disabilities and its work to embed sustainability topics into the curriculum.

Priority five: Philanthropy

We will launch the University’s first multi-million-pound fundraising and engagement campaign, to increase and diversify philanthropic income and help create a sense of belonging and participation amongst our staff, students and alumni.

400 students will start at Sheffield in September on donorfunded scholarships - three times as many as a decade ago. 2022-23 saw a milestone gift of £3.75 million from alumnus Mark Crosbie and his wife Sarah. This is the second largest single commitment from an alumnus and will be used to support the expansion of our translational neuroscience facilities and the development of modern teaching facilities for our medics in the Faculty of Health.

Thanks to over 5,000 donations to the University’s Genetic Disease Research appeal, we installed a new state-of-the-art bioreactor at the University’s new Gene Therapy Innovation and Manufacturing Centre (GTIMC), located at the Innovation District. The bioreactor will be used by countless researchers and scientists as they progress research into treatments for genetic diseases such as motor neurone disease.

We continue to increase alumni engagement and we have alumni involved in a range of University activities with a core focus on improving student employability with a large number of alumni and friends mentoring students. We are also ensuring our offer to alumni is strong and are currently piloting Sheffield Connect, a platform that connects students to alumni, and alumni to one another.

We are developing our first major fundraising and engagement campaign, Forged in Sheffield, which will be launched publicly in the summer of 2024. The campaign will help step up philanthropic income to benefit all areas of University life, accelerate research and provide greater support to students, grow alumni volunteering activity in areas of strategic importance, and increase alumni and supporter engagement.

Read more about our One University pillar and explore related case studies

Our vision

We are the University of Sheffield. And this is our vision.