University of Sunderland Case Study

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Exceeding Pre-Covid Targets in a Global Pandemic

To beat challenging international student recruitment targets demanded a major re-think and upgrade of the whole team.

BACKGROUND

Tough competition, Brexit, visa restrictions, and Covid made hitting targets challenging. The answer demanded a new approach.

The University of Sunderland has an international reputation for excellence and quality teaching, however with strong global competition recruiting overseas students is challenging for all universities. In 2020, changes in the UK Borders Agency’s policy due to our EU exit made it even more difficult for students to get visas . . . and then came Covid.

The University needed to rethink its approach. Key objectives were to:

  • Create a stronger, more united, more strategic senior team
  • Develop middle managers to take greater accountability
  • Develop and embed an improved culture
  • Hit significantly higher student recruitment targets

This challenge required a multi-level, multifaceted approach.

STC’s expertise in designing holistic, integrated programmes that address complex and varied needs in a simple straightforward way was a good fit.

SOLUTION

Highly targeted interventions at each level of the University to create and embed a new approach to success

STC worked in close partnership with the University of Sunderland over an 18-month period on a series of training events, facilitated meetings and personal coaching at all levels. This comprehensive support programme encompassed:

  • The Entire International Office: Facilitated strategy and culture workshops resulting in the creation of robust two-year strategic plans.
  • The Senior Leadership Team: One-to-one executive coaching, and team building events to hone individual skills and widen the senior leadership team’s approach.
  • Middle Managers in the UK & Eastern Asia: Accelerated learning programmes and events to increase personal skill levels and create a cohesive, consistent style and culture.
  • The Pro-Vice Chancellor: Continual consultancy and collaboration to ensure long-lasting organisational change and sustainable growth.

The key was really understanding the organisation, facilitating innovative thinking and effective solutions, and ensuring they were implemented.

RESULTS

Transformation in leadership, culture, strategy & capability leading to an exceptional 25% year-on-year increase

The success of this programme was far-reaching: teamwork improved dramatically and is now ‘the best it has ever been’. The University now has a strong collective strategy that is being implemented progressively and collaboratively. Networking and relationships inside the University, with the faculties, as well as externally with partners has strengthened; and results are ahead of ambitious targets, increasing by 25% year on year.

Although this initiative started pre-Covid, the University’s investment in development has meant that when Covid hit, they suffered significantly less impact than almost any other university in the country. Why? Because of teamwork, strategy, capability, flexibility, and results; and that difference was measured in millions.

3/3

YEARS BEATING RECRUITMENT TARGETS

25%

YEAR-ON-YEAR INCREASE IN STUDENT RECRUITMENT

2020

BEAT PRE-COVID ACADEMIC YEAR TARGET

20%

GROWTH IN OVERSEAS PARTNER RECRUITMENT

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CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

“I credit STC with the work they have done to change perceptions, develop teamwork and drive up results.”

Ian Moody, Deputy Director of International at The University of Sunderland

“STC helped us to form, shape, and improve our leadership teams and has been a key part of our success. We value their support and input highly.”

John MacIntyre, Pro-Vice Chancellor at The University of Sunderland