President and Vice-Chancellor’s introduction

"This is just a snapshot of some of our many achievements - all of which are a testament to the expertise, talent and commitment of our staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for the important role that they continue to play."

Professor Koen Lamberts - President & Vice-Chancellor

The University of Sheffield is a special place, with ambitious plans for the future. This annual report presents some of the highlights from the past year, and shows how we are striving towards our vision of delivering life-enhancing research, innovation and education.

Of course, a document like this cannot capture everything. This is just a snapshot of some of our many achievements - all of which are a testament to the expertise, talent and commitment of our staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for the important role that they continue to play.

The University’s reputation as a research and innovation powerhouse has continued to grow, with increasing recognition of the national and global significance of our translational facilities.

In July, our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) announced its largest ever research and development project, COMPASS (Composites at Speed and Scale). The new facility at our Innovation District will help to solve composites manufacturing challenges needed to help the aviation industry reach net zero. With our Energy Institute leading the UK’s Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Clearing House, and its involvement in the world’s first 100% SAF transatlantic flight later this year, the University is quickly becoming a go-to place for sustainable aviation research and development.

COMPASS was also the first major announcement of the new South Yorkshire Investment Zone — the first investment zone in the UK — and establishes the region as the best place to start, scale or relocate a business. The University’s expertise in advanced manufacturing was critical in securing it for the region and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure its success.

Our research continues to find solutions to the most pressing challenges facing society today. To give just a few examples from the last 12 months: our researchers led a successful clinical trial of a new genetically targeted therapy that could be used to treat a rare form of motor neurone disease (MND); developed robotic technology that can provide remote medical treatment to casualties in high-risk emergency environments; and identified how stress memory in plants could hold the key to growing disease-resistant crops.

We continue to provide excellent research-led teaching and offer the outstanding student experience for which Sheffield is known. We are very proud that we were placed top of the Russell Group in the 2023 National Students’ Survey, receiving the most positive responses to questions about academic experience, mental wellbeing, resources and support. Our Students’ Union was named the best SU at the Whatuni Student Choice (WUSCA) Awards for the sixth year running. Supporting our students through difficult circumstances remains a key priority for the University, and we have implemented specific support to respond to the rising cost of living in the UK.

This year has seen the official opening of our newest building on campus, The Wave — the new home for our Faculty of Social Sciences. This will be transformational for our students and staff, with its innovative education and learning spaces. It is also our most sustainable building ever.

As we continue to make progress in delivering our sustainability strategy, we were pleased to be ranked 8th in the UK and 42nd in the world for sustainable development in our inaugural entry to the Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, which assess universities’ work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The UK higher education sector continues to face challenges and the University has navigated these well and maintained a sound financial position. However, to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the sector, it is clear that an alternative funding model is required, and I continue to raise the urgent need for reform.

The One University pillar of our vision underpins everything we do, and we are committed to nurturing a supportive environment where everyone in our University community can thrive. This year, we have launched two new equality strategies, our LGBT+ strategy and Religion, Belief and No-Belief strategy, and are proud to be one of only seven universities awarded the University Mental Health Charter Award from Student Minds – the UK’s student mental health charity.

Over the last 12 months, the University has made significant progress in delivering its vision. In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on enhancing the global impact and reputation of Sheffield as a leader in research and innovation, and the outstanding education and student experience we provide.

Professor Koen Lamberts
President and Vice-Chancellor

Our vision

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