Skip to main content
Ƶ logo

    Together, we will make the difference

    Our 2030 Vision

    1900 + 1901 + 1902

    The past is the foundation of the future.

    Many people have built the University it is today. Going forward together, we will all make the difference.

    + 2023 +

    At Harper Adams we’re changing the world. Advancing knowledge, inspiring learners and equipping people to find creative, sustainable solutions to the economic and environmental challenges facing our planet – now and in the future. Real change is possible through a united vision and shared agenda.

    Together, we will make the difference

    Harper Adams is the University for food production and technology, animal health and wellbeing, and their contribution to sustainable, living environments for our planet’s inhabitants.

    This is supported by our departments, curricula, and research specialisms in:
    Science, Technology, Agriculture, Business, Economics, Food, Land Management, Environment, Engineering, Entomology, Plant Science, Animal Wellbeing, Veterinary Science, Zoology, Farming, Sustainability, Enterprise, Digital, Data Science, Policy.

    Foreword by the Vice-Chancellor

    During my career in higher education I am privileged to have been associated with some of the most distinctive universities in the world.  Despite being very different types of institutions, they all had the following characteristics in common: an uncompromising pursuit for academic excellence; relevance to the sectors in which they are active, reimagining education and curricula and an appetite for challenging and extending the role of universities in society through their graduates, research and knowledge exchange work.  They were comfortable standing out from the crowd, with the potential to convene other opinion leaders and influence policy, both at home and overseas.  Ƶ is another such institution and I am honoured to serve as its Vice-Chancellor and its eighth institutional leader.

    I believe that Ƶ is an extraordinary institution. Since its establishment in 1901, this institution has made an essential contribution to the agricultural industry, community and the wider economy. Whether through the education of students, the training of professionals, the delivering of relevant and impactful research, or the influencing of policy, Harper Adams has been independent and distinctive. It must continue to be so. We must stay true to Thomas Harper Adams’ founding legacy and be at the forefront of what we do to enable the sectors we partner with to thrive. Much has changed since 1901. In size, scale, reach and impact, Harper Adams has changed and adapted, embracing new agendas, delivering technological innovations, solving often seemingly insurmountable problems, and staying relevant to its specialism and the sectors it supports. Throughout this time, striving to deliver excellent outcomes with and for students has been a consistent golden thread. This must continue to be so.

    We have developed from being an Agricultural College, to a University College and to Ƶ. Throughout that time our farm has been an integral and essential part of what and who we are.  Through our Future Farm, this will continue.

    As we enter our second decade as a university, it is our turn to ask and answer: what and where next? What do our sectors, industry partners and society need from us in this next decade? Where do we need to compete, where and with whom do we need to collaborate, and what will we achieve as a result? Do we have the courage to step up?

    So many questions...

    Agriculture was the heart of why this institution was founded and remains critical to what we will be able to do as a university in the years to come. The region, the country and the planet at large need Ƶ to continue to punch well above its size. On all fronts. The transition the agricultural sector is going through needs the best talent, the brightest minds, alongside accessible and implementable solutions. The growing global population needs access to high quality food and the planetary ecosystems need to thrive as that food is secured. Humanity needs to come through this safer, healthier and more resilient. We need to persuade government that the issues we explore, research and teach are indeed, but are not only, rural issues. They are also economic and global competitiveness issues for the nation, and health issues for everyone. In fact, there has never been a time when the land-based sector was more critically important, both within the context of the UK and around the world.

    Our University has already achieved phenomenal things. This strategic plan invites all of us to step up together and make the difference for the next generation. In doing so we will deliver our contribution to secure and sustain our country, our planet and our populations.

    Professor Ken Sloan

    Professor Ken Sloan

    Foreword by the Chairman of the Board

    Much has changed since we published our Strategic Plan 2020-2025 and, like so many UK businesses and organisations, Ƶ has had to think carefully about how we build on our cherished position as the UK’s leading specialist land-based university to respond to new challenges and opportunities here at home and, increasingly, in other parts of the world.

    Our refreshed strategy for Harper Adams, taking the University up to 2030, is mapped out against a background of global turmoil, turbulence and uncertainty. A global Covid pandemic followed by endemic Covid; the war in Ukraine, causing disruption to energy and food supplies and enormous energy price inflation;  climate change and extreme weather events now experienced world-wide; food price and general inflation, and risks of a more general economic recession - all these have made the world a more unstable and dangerous place. External forces now pose significant risks for national governments and economies, undermining their security, creating the potential for instability and uncertainty in policy making, disruption to economies and international trade, and threatening world food supplies and food security.

    We are well-placed to contribute significantly to a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – promoting sustainable agriculture to end hunger, contributing to healthy lives, combating climate change and promoting sustainable land use, to name just four. However, the routes to attaining our strategic goals have now become more complex, and we know that we must approach the period up to 2030 with flexibility and adjustment, as circumstances may dictate. We are entering a period of known but significant uncertainties. What I do know with absolute certainty is that the country and world needs Ƶ more than ever before.  We need to build on more than 120 years of dedicated service to our students, and to the farming and food sectors we were created to serve, and shine a light through the current turmoil to a brighter, better future for all.

    Peter Nixon

    Peter Nixon
    Chair of the Board of Governors

    Our Mission

    Our mission is to advance knowledge, to inspire and equip learners in our specialisms to deliver real change, and contribute to a sustainable future for the inhabitants of and habitats across our living planet.

    Our Vision

    By 2030, Ƶ will have realised its vision to combine being regarded as the UK’s leading specialist institution with being an internationally recognised university for food production and technology, animal health and wellbeing, and their contribution to sustainable, living environments for our planet’s inhabitants.

    We will have:

    • Diversified our education offer and attracted talented and more diverse learners from both rural and urban backgrounds to qualifications from undergraduate to doctoral level in our specialist areas.
    • Strengthened and extended our determined, optimistic culture as an evidence-led, practically oriented university, applying Harper Adams innovation and knowledge to generate purposeful curricula, skilled and valued students and alumni, and impact-driven partnerships with businesses and other organisations across our specialist domains.
    • Become an increasingly distinctive and highly regarded voice in national and international debate and relevant policy issues within food, farming, sustainability, and education in general.
    • Become a more globally connected university, with increased numbers of learners from overseas and meaningful collaboration through a network of carefully selected partnerships with like-minded universities and other impact organisations worldwide.

    Our Strategic Purpose

    Education and Research: Excellence with Enterprise and Impact

    Delivered through the goals of:

    • Inclusion
    • Globally-Connected
    • Ƶ
    • Influence
    • Sustainability

    Our Values

    At Harper Adams we believe in:

    CURIOUS HEADS We use our Heads: through research, technology, skills, innovation and transformation we make the difference to our planet for the better.

    PRACTICAL HANDS We use our Hands: We recognise that knowledge and insight can only have a positive impact if we apply it.

    COURAGEOUS HEARTS We use our Hearts:  we are proud and committed contributors and partners, and we build inclusive communities to make the difference.

    GROWING TOGETHER We are Harper Adams: we are an optimistic, pragmatic and collaborative community, which faces challenges with confidence and purpose, and a community where everyone working to make the difference, belongs.

    Our Strategic Purpose

    Education and Research Excellence with Enterprise and Impact

    Our commitment to excellent education and research, which is both enterprising and impactful, will be our defining purpose and priority in this period. Without these, the specialist industry sectors we partner with and support will not have the talent required to develop and thrive, nor the practical, evidenced solutions that our partners and government will need to navigate and address the challenges of the future. Our Students’ Union is a key partner in delivering this commitment.

    We are committed to refreshing our curriculum using the principles of Harper Forward to ensure that all of our courses reflect the interests of students and the needs of employers and wider society.

    Enhancing the quality and impact of our undergraduate education will continue to be a key priority. Whether opting for a full-time undergraduate programme, or following the increasing number of apprenticeship and flexible routes, the experience of students will be demonstrated through their feedback and their progression into employment or continuing education. We will embed an entrepreneurial culture across all of our courses, equipping learners with the means to use their knowledge to innovate and develop intellectual property, with some remaining at Harper Adams to develop start-up companies and spin-outs in partnership with the agri-food sector in the UK and overseas.

    We aim to equip all students with six Harper Graduate Attributes:

    Inspired + Digital + Growing + Caring + Applied + Global

    Research and Innovation provides the foundation stone for all strong contemporary universities. Research strength drives a university’s distinctive identity and its global reputation as well as ensuring that its teaching and learning is infused with emerging knowledge and impact. Impactful Research and Innovation have been integral to Harper Adams’s mission for at least the last half-century. Our Future Farm provides a living laboratory for us to develop and test solutions to challenges within agriculture, food production and sustainability, with research enabling us to provide a contemporary and relevant curriculum and an engaging student experience. With the global integrated agri-food sector facing the challenge of achieving Net Zero within the wider sustainability framework (economic, social and environment), it is critical that we develop our research base and increase both overall research income and the size of individual research grants and contracts to stay competitive and remain relevant.

    By 2030 we will:

    • Grow the number and increase the impact of our strategic alliances with business, charitable and university partners, including outside of the UK, with funding from industry partners increasing to more than £1 million per annum.
    • Launch and develop a Harper Adams Graduate School, more than doubling the number of PhD and MRes students and increasing the number of our graduates from taught programmes who go on to further research.
    • Increase the proportion of our research which is recognised as internationally excellent, and increase the education and research impact of our Future Farm.
    • Provide support so that more of our researchers and students are motivated and equipped to commercialise their knowledge through the creation of start-ups and spin-out companies.
    • Drive and harness the benefits and potential of scientific developments and emerging technologies to transform what and how we teach, and how our research translates into positive impact on our industry partners.
    • Partner with our students and the Students’ Union to ensure that student voice, insights and contribution are an integral part of how we develop our education, research and knowledge exchange activities.
    • Diversify and grow talent pipelines for industry and society by attracting talented students from rural, urban and diverse backgrounds, encouraging all to be open-minded and inclusive learners and preparing graduates to meet current and emerging challenges in relevant industries and related professions.
    • Co-create immersive and professional learning environments with our students, graduates and partners, informed and underpinned by innovative professional practices, techniques and working environments, using the insights and evidence generated on our Future Farm and related specialist facilities, and working with key partners as part of our educational courses and research. 
    • Extend our geographical reach, attracting more overseas students to our campus and developing our education to include learning and teaching in other physical and virtual hubs, to support part-time flexible learners, all using learning resources generated from the operation of our campus specialist learning facilities including our Future Farm.
    • Increase the number of our research grant submissions to 250 per annum with UKRI and international focused grants making up at least 20% of total submissions leading to a doubling of research income.  

    Key Performance Indicators


    • Student enrolments at different levels and through different delivery modes.
    • Overall student satisfaction (NSS or other measures).
    • Graduate progression and destinations (immediate and longer term).
    • Collaborative engagement in our education.
    • TEF Gold or equivalent.
    • World Leading Teaching status or equivalent.


    • Research student numbers, completions and success rates.
    • Impact partnerships with strategic alliances.
    • Research and enterprise income by competitive source.
    • Growth in international/charitable income.
    • Research staff profile.
    • 70% of REF research world leading or international.


    Harper Adams was established to make the difference: to the country’s agricultural sector, to rural communities, and to society at large.

    Today whilst our specialist focus remains clear, our impact covers a much broader range of disciplines, communities, sectors and countries. Over the period ahead we will support the development and outcomes of the University’s education and research through five goals:

    Inclusion, Globally-Connected, Ƶ, Influence and Sustainability.

    Our goals


    We already have a vibrant and increasingly diverse student body, which benefits from the experience of a compact and well-equipped campus.  We need to invest in facilities and activities to make our campus an even more stimulating and safe place in which to live and study.

    Many continue to come to Harper Adams from a rural community and with a clear sense of what they want to do after graduation, whilst we are also attracting more students from other communities and settings. We must make sure what we offer remains attractive and engaging for everyone who studies and works here.

    The disciplines we cover should be of interest and relevance to a broader and more diverse population of stakeholders, coming from many different places and backgrounds. We must work with partners to take our subjects, disciplines and research out to engage with stakeholders in different settings and using different platforms, to ensure that the link between rural, food and animal-related development, and overall human and planetary prosperity, is better understood.


    Our Access and Participation plan has continually allowed us to bring fresh talent into the industries we serve, regardless of background.

    Over the last decade, efforts to broaden our student demographic have paid off. Our mature student population has grown by 80 per cent, students from ethnic minority groups by 346 per cent and students from neighbourhoods that traditionally have low participation in higher education have grown by more than 40 per cent.

    The percentage of students from non-rural backgrounds has grown by 38 per cent, and from non-farming backgrounds by 30 per cent – the latter now comprising more than half of the total student body. This is critical to the development of fresh talent in the agri-food sector as the pool of available candidates from rural or farming backgrounds is declining.

    By 2030 we will:

    • Take the University’s education and research activities ‘on the road’ to enable different learning and experience settings to be utilised, particularly in areas and communities where local access to such opportunities might be limited.
    • Continue, with our Students’ Union, to develop and extend the impact of our Respect and Belonging plan to make Harper Adams a safe and welcoming university for all members of our community, irrespective of their backgrounds, culture, gender or identities.
    • Diversify the mix and use of facilities and activities available on and off campus, including through the Students’ Union, to ensure that a broader range of student, employee and community activities can be supported.
    • Ensure that our inclusion interventions are underpinned by robust evaluation and evidence which demonstrates that the outcomes sought can be achieved.

    Key Performance Indicators

    • Diversity of student and employee populations
    • Student progression and learning gain of under-represented groups
    • Collaborations with charitable/NGO/Not for profit sector
    • Gender pay gap performance

    Our goals


    Harper Adams is, without doubt, the foremost specialist agricultural and agri-food university in the UK with its alumni accounting for 25% of graduates within the UK farming and food sectors. But what about in the wider world?

    Our disciplinary mix has diversified greatly in recent decades without diluting our specialist focus and purpose. Our engineers, business and economics academics have delivered ground breaking contributions to the future of farming and technology, much of which has received national and international accolades. The Harper and Keele Vet School builds and expands on our outstanding track record in veterinary nursing and physiotherapy, further securing the University’s leadership role in animal wellbeing and behaviour.

    Despite this, Ƶ has a comparatively limited profile and brand awareness outside of the UK.  Although we attract students from most regions of the world*, the overall proportion of non-UK students at Harper Adams is small, and less than our main competitors in the UK.  Farming and food production is part of a global ecosystem, and at a time when the world is focused on addressing the challenges of food security and planetary sustainability, we must increase the contribution we make to education and research inside and outside the UK. UK businesses competing internationally need our graduates to be globally confident and aware. A more globally-connected university would make a significant impact on existing students and employees, helping to achieve a more cosmopolitan campus and creating new opportunities for international exchange and collaboration.  By 2030 students from outside of the UK should be much better represented amongst our student body, with increased opportunities to engage digitally, as well as on campus, and Harper Adams should spearhead a number of new global impact alliances to achieve new opportunities for impactful education and research.

    Our academic collaboration extends to around 40 institutions worldwide. Through our growing international reputation, we have already made a lasting impacy, including aiding Sub-Saharan farmers with the Marshal Papworth Foundation, supporting government agencies in the Dominican Republic and connecting with the Odessa National University of Technology, through the Twinning for Hope Programme to support scholars affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

    By 2030 we will:

    • Have infrastructure in place to support and deliver ambitious but targeted international student growth in all disciplinary areas, with strategic growth in specific regions supported by local country intelligence and support.
    • Connect with and expand our network of like-minded impact partners, in the UK and overseas, to collaborate in education, research and work together to address the key challenges facing our industry sectors and communities , and to increase opportunities for our students and employees.
    • Encourage a global perspective in everything we do, developing teaching and research collaborations as appropriate which underpin our strategic aims and objectives in addressing world issues relevant to our disciplines, and ensure our graduates are equipped with global insight and global experience, including more of our students undertaking placements or work experience beyond the UK.
    • Partner with the Students’ Union as it develops its services and support for an increasingly diverse student population.

    Key Performance Indicators

    • Size and proportion of international student population
    • Number and depth of International Education and Impact Alliances
    • Publications or programmes with international co-authors/partners
    • % of students/employees on mobility or international placements

    Our goals


    At the heart of Ƶ there has always been a community of learners who are motivated by and committed to the specialist subjects and disciplines we teach.

    The subjects we offer and the modes of study that our students follow has continued to evolve, but the interest and passion of our students for these specialisms remains undiminished.

    Ƶ has a community of academics, technicians and professional services employees, united by the common goal of improving farming, food production, animal wellbeing, and planetary sustainability across the UK and the wider world, and delivering an outstanding student experience.  To achieve our goals, we will invest in the development and skills of our people.  We need to be an employer of choice which is able to recruit and retain staff who are skilled and passionate about the work we do.

    Our alumni occupy positions of influence, care deeply about the University, and want to support its success. This is demonstrated in part through the number of alumni who offer placements to our students through their organisations, and increasingly offer scholarships and bursaries to support them. We need to do more to keep alumni connected to our community, whether through CPD and further learning or enlisting further support and advice for the many challenges we and our partners face.  We will reinvigorate our connections to the Harper Adams Club and our in-country international alumni groups as a key part of building new connections with our alumni.

    Our activities have been predominantly located on or connected to our campus in Shropshire where we are a part of a wider community which is integral to our impact and success. We are critical to the identity, prosperity and well-being of our local area and we have to further develop our role and identity as a civic-oriented university.  We must do more to reduce the invisible boundaries around our campus and engage with the people and organisations of Edgmond and Newport, Telford, Shropshire and the wider West Midlands region to identify areas of common interest and achieve goals of mutual benefit.  We must demonstrate the ability of our campus to be a destination for events and opportunities for engagement and community impact. We must also be willing to take our education, research and impact activities away from the campus to broaden and deepen our community engagement and impact.

    By 2030 we will:

    • Be recognised as a highly valued civic-oriented university, a strategic partner of choice that contributes to regional growth and the development of rural and local economies, informed by expertise from a newly established Industry Partnership Council. 
    • Encourage, recognise and celebrate the impact of student and employee volunteering on the local, regional and international community.
    • Be recognised as a valued employer of choice with transparent and effective employee development and wellbeing programmes, and a flexible model of incentives and benefits to motivate all of our employees, whether academic, technical and professional services, to contribute fully to the University’s outcomes and success.
    • Develop and deliver an ambitious alumni engagement plan and work with our alumni associations, including the Harper Adams Club and Harper Adams in Ireland, to promote life-long learning opportunities, engagement and partnership.
    • Celebrate and promote the achievements of our students, employees, community and alumni through the launch of the Harper Adams ‘Making The Difference Awards’ to celebrate outstanding student, employee, alumni, community and partner contributions, in addition to prizes and scholarships.

    Key Performance Indicators

    • Employee engagement and satisfaction
    • Student engagement by mode and level of study
    • Use of facilities/attendance at events by non-University community
    • Student and employee volunteering hours
    • Engagement in regional/local projects and developments

    “Harper Adams is a fantastic example of the type of innovation and skills provision that we need in our agri-tech sector.”

    UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak

    Our goals


    Given our status as the UK’s brand leader in land-based and related education and research we should have a higher national profile, which we could use to have even greater influence over national debate and relevant policy issues within food, farming, sustainability, technology and education in general.

    Our voice should be more confident. Businesses in the farming and food sectors need us to build these cross-sector alliances and connections. By 2030 we need to be better at telling the Harper Adams story and sharing our research and knowledge transfer outcomes with more people.

    In doing so we will be telling the stories of every organisation with which we partner More organisations and communities should understand what we do, how and why we do it, and why it is significant to them.  We must develop and enhance our channels of communication, between ourselves and with the outside world, especially through digital, including our own website.  Our alumni achieve influential positions across many organisations and sectors and we must make connections with them as ambassadors and conduits of our insights and our potential to make a difference.  And we must be more engaged with politicians, policy makers and opinion leaders of all kinds, ensuring that we are their first call on issues which are important to our sector and our partner communities. 

    Working together with partners such as Rabobank, we are able to create debates that generate national noise. Our Global Policy Forum, launched in November 2022, brought together industry leaders, government policy makers, students, alumni and academics to discuss urgent problems in our food supply and sustainability agendas.

    Whilst world leaders gathered for COP 27, our inaugural panel of industry experts – alongside Harper Adams Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, debated the realities and attainability of achieving Net Zero across the sector.

    By 2030 we will:

    • Establish Ƶ as a leading global voice in the drive to achieve sustainable food security and planetary sustainability, adopting purposeful language to communicate the relevance and impact of all of its activities.
    • Create and launch the Ƶ Global Policy Forum to increase the University’s engagement with all its stakeholders and inform public policy and opinions, at a local national and international level through a programme of events, commissions and green papers.
    • Equip our graduates, employees, governors and partners with ready access to key insights from our work which can be used to accelerate impact and progress in our priority sectors through their own networks of influence.
    • Significantly increase our brand recognition amongst the population at large as a way of further promoting the significance of disciplines we specialise in and the partners we work with.

    Key Performance Indicators

    • Employees/students/alumni serving on significant external boards, working parties and committees
    • Audience reach of media outputs (across all channels)
    • HAU evidence evidenced in policy and legislative outcomes
    • Influence and diversity of audience at targeted external engagement events

    Our goals


    As students, employees and alumni, the future of the University is shaped by our actions. Although we might not yet realise it, we probably already have many of the solutions for making Harper Adams more sustainable and financially robust.

    We need to empower our people to be innovators, identifying ways of improving our systems and processes so that we can become more efficient and effective. We need to identify new services and sources of revenue and contribution to give us the headroom to continue to invest in our teaching and research.

    The sectors we partner with expect us to be ahead of the curve. As a University, we are working towards Net Zero in our strategy for 2030 (scope 1 and 2 emissions). Perhaps even more importantly, we are committed to our Future Farm achieving the same Net Zero outcomes as early as possible. It has a vital role to play as an innovator and demonstrator to the farms and food producers that are working to the same goal by 2040. We must be able to evidence and demonstrate what is possible and the School of Sustainable Food and Farming will be a key channel to share its impact.

    Operating sustainably is a significant challenge for a small and specialist institution, but we must achieve it. We must not forget the contribution we can all make by changing our behaviours and by doing one or two things differently. Through our Harper Forward curriculum, we will equip our graduates with insights and capabilities to make a difference to the sustainability outcomes of their organisations. Some will use the knowledge gained at Harper Adams to create start-up companies and spin-outs which will give us and our partners competitive advantage. We will inspire and equip our employees to do the same at the University.

    In partnership with Morrisons, the NFU and McDonald’s, our School of Sustainable Food and Farming aims to educate, inspire and empower current and future farmers to achieve Net Zero.

    Each with an equal voice and acting only with transparency and commitment to sustainability and the sector, the School and its partners will continue its drive to lower the farming emissions footprint by 2050.

    By 2030 we will:

    • Ensure that through the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, Future Farm and other strategic developments that a significant and increasing number of farms and food producers can access the innovations, approaches and capabilities to support their own path to Net Zero.
    • Become an exemplar of environmental and organisational sustainability, particularly through our Future Farm, developing a unified community approach to sustainability.  
    • Launch the Harper Adams ‘20 by 30 Together We Will Make the Difference’ Fundraising campaign in partnership with the Harper Adams Development Trust to generate a co-contribution of £20m towards the fulfilment our 2030 goals.
    • Increase and diversify our income and contribution generation across all areas of the University to sustain strategic investment in our future.
    • Be known for our optimistic and practical organisational culture and effectiveness, not just for the outcomes of the work we do.
    • Continue to invest in people, technology, facilities and infrastructure to support our role and to help us fulfil our mission and vision.

    Key Performance Indicators

    • Operating surplus and cash
    • Co-investment by partners
    • Professional Services productivity
    • Faculty workload and productivity
    • Net Zero performance (University)
    • Net Zero performance (Future Farm)
    • Outputs and outcomes relating to UN SDGs


    Our Strategy will be delivered through developing our core sub-strategies on Research, Teaching and Learning and Knowledge Exchange along with plans for our cross-cutting goals on inclusion, global connectivity, community, influence and sustainability.

    Our academic departments will translate our strategic intentions to develop and enhance our disciplines. All of which will be underpinned by the right people, place and infrastructure, digital, finance and resource planning to achieve our ambitions.

    We will measure our success using a suite of Key Performance Indicators that we will keep under review to ensure we are achieving the right outcomes and impact from our strategy.

    We will involve our University community of employees, students and alumni in translating our strategy into implementation, as our success and achieving our ambitions relies on the commitment, contribution and engagement of our people. Partnership working with our industry, educational and civic partners, globally as well as in the UK, will enhance our planning and we will work collaboratively to achieve mutual outcomes.

    Our approach to strategic planning will be based on a rolling Integrated Delivery Plan to ensure that we have a holistic and cross-institutional deliverables that are planned, resourced and achievable, focused on the right activities linked to impactful outcomes.

    Environmental Statement

    A changed, and changing, context

    Harper Adams 2030 will play out against the backdrop of substantial change and, in some cases, turmoil. Political, trade and financial systems are unstable, both at home and around the world, with agri-food facing increasing challenges in providing nutritious and affordable food to the World’s growing population. To be successful, we must fully understand the changing context around us to identify opportunities where we can find solutions to some of the World’s pressing problems.  This Environmental Statement provides a summary of a changed, and changing context, across education policy, the environment, agri-food and the global economy.

    Higher Education: a changing landscape

    Recent policy statements and legislation have given us a clearer idea of how the HE landscape may look in the years covered by this strategy. The Government’s response in February 2022 to the 2019 Augar Review of Post-18 Education indicated that student tuition fees will now be frozen until 2023/4. So, at a time of high inflation, we will now have to address a further real cut in the unit of resource, whilst at the same time taking on board the Government’s intention to align the provision of higher education teaching grants with Government priorities and labour market needs.

    We will also need to work more closely with employers, who are to be given a more central role in shaping skills provision. But there are still many uncertainties. For example, the introduction from 2025 of a flexible Lifelong Loan Entitlement giving everyone access to the equivalent of four years of post-18 education is designed to bring academic and technical education closer together; however, it is not yet clear exactly how this will be designed, or what changes will need to be made to the current system. And there is also the question of reintroducing a possible cap on student numbers, which the Government has put out for consultation.

    Post- 16 Education Review

    The 2022 Skills and Post-16 Education Act detailed changes to post-16 education, to facilitate changes in skills gaps such as health and social care, engineering, digital, clean energy and manufacturing. It prioritises local needs and local people; supports flexible study options via the Lifelong Loan Entitlement; aims to boost the quality of education and training on offer, to broaden careers advice for pupils  and to prioritise green skills. Our strategy will need to take account of this new post-16 landscape since non-standard routes of entry have been an important source of undergraduate students into our top-up degrees – our Extended Foundation Degree and Extended Degree programmes – and we have a tradition of recruitment from our local area. However, there are still uncertainties, particularly around post-16 qualifications: it is not yet clear which BTech Level 3 and 4 programmes will be retained given the introduction of T Levels, which were launched in September 2022.

    Long term higher education demand

    The period to 2030 will be a time of demographic change in England. In contrast to recent years, the number of 18 year-olds in the population is forecast to increase until 2030, suggesting an additional 40,000 additional University places will be needed in England. However, if the rising trend of participation in HE is included, the projected figure rises to 358,000, affecting all areas of the country though concentrated in the South East and London. If the OfS’s (Office for Students) access and participation targets are met, and if, in the post-Covid recession, higher education becomes more attractive to school leavers than entering the job market, demand might increase still further. However, an alternative scenario may present itself in which, given student fees and maintenance costs, inflation and recession in the UK might actually depress demand for HE, or might lead to a greater demand for remote learning to reduce overheads.

    New access and participation priorities

    Access and participation planning in our Harper 2030 strategy must focus on the refreshed priorities announced by the OfS in February 2022. Plans should include forming more partnerships with schools and other local organisations; developing more flexible courses so as to produce more diverse pathways into and through higher education; ensuring that access leads to participation in high quality courses and secures good graduate outcomes, and making access and participation plans clearer to prospective students, their parents and other stakeholders. We must also plan to increase participation of underrepresented groups - students from areas of low higher education participation; low household income or low socio-economic status; black, Asian and minority ethnic students; mature students; disabled students; care leavers; people estranged from their families; refugees; children from military families.

    Education 4.0

    Education 4.0 – the transformation of tertiary education through advanced technology – remains a continuing challenge for the University. However, by focusing on certain key areas, we can improve social mobility and student well-being; address the levelling up agenda; mitigate the physical challenges some of our students may face on campus; enhance inclusion, and prepare our students for the technology they will encounter in their future careers. We should aim to transform students’ learning experiences by, for example, providing a personalised learning experience; increasing connectivity and digital skills of both staff and students; and improving the accessibility of learning materials and online delivery, benefiting here, perhaps, from our experiences during the pandemic. Another crucial process is assessment: done properly, it drives improvement, shapes learner behaviour and provides accountability to employers and others. Assessment methods should be designed to prepare students for what they do next, embedding a balance of human and AI marking, preferably on a continuous assessment basis.

    Research, Development and Innovation

    Excellent research that makes a vital impact remains an integral part of Ƶ’s mission. Public funding for research, in at least the earlier period of this strategic plan, at first looked extremely hopeful. In 2021, the Government increased public R&D investment to record levels, providing £20 million across the UK by 2024-5, including funding for EU programmes - an increase of around 25% in real terms. When the Government’s direct spending on R&D was combined with support for tax relief, total UK R&D support as a proportion of GDP was forecast to increase from 0.7% in 2018 to 1.1% in 2024-25. However, we must now work on the basis that increasing inflation will erode the value of the total spending envelope during this strategic planning period. Together with the hiatus in access to drawing down funding from EU programmes including its key R&D funding programme, Horizon Europe, this will inevitably squeeze publicly-funded research and innovation, intensifying competition for what is, in real terms, a potentially shrinking pot. The search for new strategic research partners will become a necessity.

    Climate Change and the Environment

    The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health and we have only a very short time in which to put it right. Indeed, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has given a stark warning: unless countries dramatically scale up their efforts to counter the climate crisis, we face a global catastrophe. In national and global efforts to stem the impact of climate change, universities have a critical role – one that goes beyond research and teaching. They must focus on massively reducing carbon emissions from their daily operations, including from staff and student travel, and commit to sustaining biodiversity; help to educate adults away from carbon-intensive work and towards socially positive investment, and collaborate more, building alliances between scientists, artists, politics and society, particularly from marginalised communities. Acting as sustainability leaders should be at the heart of universities’ civic missions – a role particularly fitting for Harper Adams, with our uniquely relevant expertise and our close connections with our local community.

    The environment - IPCC conclusions

    The Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently warned that any further delay in global action will miss a brief, rapidly closing, window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for the planet. Looking closer to home, it identifies the environmental problems caused by unchecked climate change in Europe: risks to people, economies and infrastructure due to coastal and inland flooding; stress and mortality to people caused by increasing temperatures and extreme heat; disruptions to marine and terrestrial ecosystems; water scarcity to multiple interconnected sectors, and losses in crop production due to compound heat and dry conditions and extreme weather. Many of these scenarios, of course, became frighteningly familiar during the summer of 2022.

    The environment - the domestic agenda

    In the last couple of years, the UK has seen a plethora of inter-relating, sometimes overlapping, legislation and developments relating to global warming and environmental protection. The 2020 Environment Act requires the Government to prepare and maintain an Environmental Improvement Plan, with a new cycle of monitoring, planning and reporting; it establishes a framework for long-term, joined-up targets covering air quality, resource efficiency and waste reduction, water and biodiversity, and includes a specific duty to set a separate target to halt a decline in species abundance by 2030.  Biodiversity, water quality and emissions (particularly NOx and methane) are areas where agriculture is obviously implicated. Yet there remains a lack of clarity on, for example, the targets set for species abundance, the scope and targets relating to soil health and woodlands and how the various policies for the environment, such as the Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS), will fit together under the Act. Our landscape of policy and legislation remains in a state of flux, review and uncertainty, exacerbated by the Ukraine war and the global food crisis - particularly in the UK’s responses to global warming, Net Zero and food security.

    Net Zero - the position in the UK

    In 2021, the government launched its Net Zero strategy: Build Back Greener, with the objective of reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050. This strategy acknowledged that in some sectors, of which agriculture is one, it will be difficult to decarbonise completely: to compensate for residual emissions from these sectors, greenhouse gas removal (GGR) measures such as tree planting, carbon capture and carbon storage will be essential by 2050, and further recommendations have been provided by the independent Skidmore review which was published earlier in the year.

    Net Zero and agriculture

    The scale of the problem here is considerable: Net Zero implies an offset of some 46mt CO2 and at the rate of reduction over the past 20 or so years, we are unlikely to achieve this.

    Following the UK’s undertaking at COP26 in 2021 to reduce methane emissions by 30% on 2020, DEFRA launched a sector consultation in 2022 but no subsequent strategy has yet emerged.

    Meanwhile, the NFU has issued a pledge to achieve Net Zero by 2040. It is clear that Net Zero in agriculture will have long-term implications for maintaining and extending the science research focus of the University on GHG reduction, and for the strategic direction of the University farm with its current strong emphasis on ruminant production.

    Agriculture - Translation and Change

    Agriculture in England and each of the devolved nations is currently in a period of transition, lasting until at least 2027, as the Government seeks to implement a new funding regime after Brexit. The Agriculture Act of 2020 replaced the previous system of payment for farmers – the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) subsidy – with the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). Under this new initiative, farmers will no longer be paid on a per hectare of land basis, but for actions to improve the environment – ‘public money for public goods’. ELMS will be launched in full in 2024 and BPS totally phased out by 2027. As the largest single supplier of graduates to the industry, the University is well placed to support this transition, which may have wider implications for the shape of the agri-food sector, and both positive and negative consequences for student recruitment.


    ELMS has three components that will reward environmental land management: the Sustainable Farming Incentive; Countryside Stewardship (or Countryside Stewardship Plus); Landscape Recovery. These are intended to support the economy while achieving the goals of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and its commitment to Net Zero emissions by 2050. They promote joined up action between farmers and other land managers to deliver environmental objectives such as clean and plentiful water; clean air; thriving plants and wildlife. Many of the key elements in the three schemes are currently being trialled before full implementation in 2024. Further schemes relating to farming investment and productivity provide one-off payments for equipment, technology and infrastructure, for research and innovation, and for measures that include improving animal health, and tree health; ongoing payments relate to more long-term projects such as improving soil health and  managing habitats, woodlands, flood risk and water pollution. The present scenario offers clear opportunities for the Future Farm, for participation in the ELMS trials, and, potentially, for research and innovation funding for other University departments. However, DEFRA has recently announced a review of ELMS, resulting in uncertainty and concern among the agricultural community.

    Food Security

    It is highly likely that the decision to review ELMS, with its emphasis on sustainability and farming for nature, has been prompted by the jolt to the UK’s complacency about food security given by the Ukraine War. The UK Food Security Report in 2021 had concluded that having a global source of food supplies – only 50% of the food consumed in the UK was produced domestically – gave the food system resilience. A few months later, the Ukraine War showed just how rapidly the global food system and markets can react to significant disruptions to energy supplies and sharply increased costs of energy and food. And other, identified, risks to the supply chain remain as a result of dependence on other critical sectors - transportation, borders, labour, key inputs such as chemicals, additives and ingredients, and data communications - while the threat of cyber-attack to UK businesses, including those in the agri-food sector, is significant and growing. Meanwhile, food inflation is running at more than 10%; it is estimated that 4.2 million people in the UK are in food poverty, including 9% of children, and in April 2022, over 15% of households were identified as food insecure – missing a meal or eating less because of affordability.  Food security could now feature in the University’s research strategy and within its Social Responsibility activity.

    The Government Food Strategy

    Against this background of food insecurity, the Government announced its Food Strategy in June 2022. Its objectives include delivering a prosperous agri-food and seafood sector that ensures a secure food supply in an unpredictable world, and  a sustainable, nature positive, affordable food system providing choice and access to high quality products that support healthier and home-grown diets for all. Its targets include: maintaining the current level of food we produce domestically; ensuring that by 2030 pay, employment and productivity, and completion of high-quality skills training have risen across the UK’s agri-food industry; halving childhood obesity by 2030, and reducing the proportion of the population living with diet-related illnesses by increasing the proportion of healthier food sold; reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6mt and the environmental impacts of the food system, and preparing for the risks from the changing climate; contributing to the goal of reaching £1 trillion of exports by 2030, and maintaining the high standards of food consumed in the UK wherever produced. It is obvious that this Food Strategy contains many opportunities for Harper Adams, in terms of training, research and innovation. Our own Strategy for 2023- 2030 will explore how we can make the most of these opportunities.

    The Economic Background: challenges and opportunities

    We need to keep abreast of the economic challenges that the University will face in the near future. Inflation (running at more than 10% in the UK in 2023) raises the cost of all our operations. Without an adjustment to student fees, it will squeeze real income and impact on our ability to invest in buildings or equipment. Government borrowing in the UK has greatly increased, and this will have a knock-on effect on funding for student support and university capital allocations. The increase in the real cost of living for students has implications for on-campus participation and an increased demand for online learning. However, exchange rate depreciation, while increasing the cost of imports, may actually make the University more attractive to international students, since UK fees will be more competitive. And, of course, we must take into account rising energy costs, increase the energy use efficiency on campus that Harper Adams has already pioneered, and work to be the exemplar of sustainability that others expect.

    Brexit: unfinished business

    There is, too, unfinished Brexit business, in particular the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, still to be resolved at the time of drawing up this strategy. This ongoing political dispute over trade with Northern Ireland has held up the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, the EU’s £84.3bn key R&D programme, preventing UK-based researchers who recently won EU grants from receiving funding. However, the overseas trade deals which the 
    UK seeks to negotiate may themselves enhance opportunities for us to develop postgraduate and research student recruitment, since this may be 
    a quid pro quo condition required by partners, particularly in South-East and South Asia. And Brexit, combined with the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war – has seen an acute shortage of labour – seasonal and permanent - in the food and farming sector (though opportunities for summer student labour seems likely to remain buoyant). We would, however, expect to see a government review of this situation in the near future.

    Times of turbulence will undoubtedly create challenges for a smaller, focused institution to face.  Our optimism, pragmatism and agility will enable us to translate challenge to opportunity, delivering value and impact for the sectors with which we partner, and society as a whole.

    Cookies on the Ƶ website

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.