About Project 25

The model of the Union was established 25 years ago. The aim of Project 25 is to transform the Union now to make it right for our students of 25 years in the future.

Project 25 is a Change Management Project. Its objective is to remodel the UPSU culture and structures to enable the following two tier approach to delivering its Purpose. The first phase of change will be impacting every student by 2025.

The Union will refocus its primary purpose:

  • Listening and acting on the student voice will be its primary function.

The Union’s secondary purpose will be:

  • Acting on student need through a portfolio of: in house services, partner services, signposting, peer support or supported self-delivery

Union activity will be two-fold:

  • For meeting student community needs, and
  • To have micro impacts for every student.


Student consultation, staff research, membership analysis and external consultancy project outcomes have evidenced that the Union’s current approach fails to deliver its charitable aims across the whole of the University of Portsmouth student community – thus making it impossible for it to achieve its vision of having a Positive Impact with EVERY Portsmouth Student.

The scope of the project is:

  • to define the future Union model for the Charity and
  • establish organisational readiness

The remodelling of the relationship between UPSU and the trading company PSUT is a parallel project which is out of scope. The projects will, however, cross refer.



Background to proposal

Here at the Union we are fortunate to be in a strong position with: an embedded & student led strategy, good block grant levels, motivated staff, a robust and effective Board and good relationship with the University.

In 2015; as we approached our new strategic planning process, worked with the University on the estates master-plan and commenced our five year forward financial modelling process it became apparent that the organisation could not identify its long term future aims.

A Business Review project was undertaken with support from an external Consultant, Aperio to help UPSU establish the answers to the following questions: how do we know we’re the best Union we can be now and for future Portsmouth students, how do we make the most of the master-planning project to potentially help transform the Union…and into what?

The Business Review was undertaken by Trustees, Student Trustees, staff and Sabbatical Officers. It identified with great clarity the strengths of the organisation and its three major challenges:

  • The drift of activity and focus away from core Charitable Aims
  • The focus of activity and benefits for an unacceptably limited % of student population
  • The limits of current resources on growth and innovation



Case for Change – Future-proofing

Making the change through the proposed project is essential to reframe the Union as indispensable within the UoP structure.

As our members needs transform annually – the Union has to secure its future as a constantly current and essential arm of the University experience for them.

The Union must enable crucial services for ALL students and move away from providing just reactive support or ‘nice to haves for the joiners in’’.

The Union is not strong in supporting ‘non-traditional’ students; we must ensure the readiness of the Union model to be positioned for the growth in distance learners, mature students, professional learners etc.




  1. Define the future Union model and key principles by end September 2016
  2. Audit the current position and activity against future key principles between Oct 2016 and Dec 2016
  3. Design the change (including risk and PSUT opportunities), programme and test the principles with student involvement between Jan 2017 and Easter 2017, identifying and budgeting ‘quick wins’ by March 2017
  4. Finalise the change plan by end July 2017 and establish a deployment group that will deliver:
    1. Deployment of the culture change from May to July 17
    2. Budget reliant ‘quick wins’ will be implemented from Aug 2017
    3. Resource, structure and production of the associated five year financial plan finalised by January 2018

NB – Portsmouth Students’ Union Trading Ltd process:

  • Business as usual with annual audit/review until Jan 17
  • Link to Project 25 to identify any trading opportunities and quick wins for budgeting Jan-Mar 17
  • PSUT project commences July 2017 as above with deadline for completion by Jan 2018 to feed into five year planning



Project Scope


The project will focus on the Charity’s existing and future:

  • Departmental activities – student facing, support & democracy
  • Associated resources (people, finance, space, technology)
  • Associated processes
  • Associated risks
  • Working relationships with the University and other organisations
  • Planning and review cycle
  • Legal entity
  • Deployment of agreed change plan
  • Establishment of forward ’Future Union’ plan
  • Financial Planning
  • Organisational structures

Out of scope

The project will not incorporate although may cross refer with:

  • ‘Business as Usual’ Review/Audit/Development
  • Building development (University master-planning)
  • Strategic Planning
  • Branding
  • PSUT development
  • Delivery of forward ’Future Union’ plan



Evaluation: defining success

Ongoing review and evaluation of the success of the project in delivering the desired objectives will be conducted on a regular basis through the project board and reporting to the Board of Trustees.

We will know the project has been a success by meeting the milestones for each objectives as set and by gaining understand in and buy-in at each of these milestones from students, staff, board members and the University.



Consultation & Engagement

The board will include a communications staff member who at each stage will be responsible for developing and managing a communications plan to ensure appropriate communications, consultation and engagement with the project at the appropriate times. The project board will also feature a University staff member who will be key in advising the appropriate times and people to consult with an engage within the University community.

  • We will engage different segments of students with the project at the appropriate milestones.
  • General students will be engaged in early roadshow comms in February followed by September 2017 communications detailing headline ambitions and project status.
  • Union management will be consulted and involved through the process
  • All staff will be communicated with appropriately at key milestones
  • Senior University staff and Governors will be receive appropriate communications twice per year at key milestones.
  • We will consult and engage with key University staff and departments on areas of the project that may cross-over or has the potential to impact their service.
Charity Board
  • The board will be engaged in the process for the first key milestone in August followed by regular board meeting updates. A board member will also sit within the project board ensuring an appropriate link is maintained.



Risk Management

Risk Potential Issue(s) Potential mitigation
Under resourcing the project Project stalls or fails Assign appropriate resource and review throughout project
Missed milestones Project stalls or fails Review at each project board and resource or amend as required
Failure to engage all stakeholders effectively Lack of effective deployment and engagement Current and reviewed communications plan

Communications involvement on Project Board

Short-term focus rather than post 2025 vision Limited impact of change project Assignment of external scrutiny of project progress where appropriate

Board responsibility at each review

Project Drift
Over-ambitious future model aspiration Inability to realistically achieve the vision/future model

Associated disengagement from stakeholders

Review at each project board and resource or amend as required
Failure to identify legal/reputational requirements Tribunal, financial risk, reputational damage etc Review at each Project Board and resource or amend as required




Project 25 coincides with the final year of the Union’s strategic plan. To ensure the best possible outcomes for both the project and the organisational strategy it is proposed that the Union’s strategic plan 2014-17 is extended to 18 to lengthen the delivery period of the third and final phase of delivery. All business critical objects will be prioritised for year one.


The project delivery will be led by a project management team consisting of:

  • Project & Operations Manager [Lucy Simpson]
  • Chief Executive [Anna Clodfelter]
  • Deputy Chief Executive [Tom Worman]

The project delivery team will be supported by:

  • Head of Student Opportunities [Fern Lewis]
  • Communications Staff Member [Jasper Snaith]
  • Finance Staff Member [Cherelyn Cuthbert]
  • Other experts as required [TBC]

Project 25 champions who receive regular updates and act as sounding boards:

  • External Trustee [Rhian Johns]
  • University Representative [Sabbir Ahmed]
  • President [James Belmonte]
  • Operational Manager [Brendan McCarthy]
  • Student Representative [Rubie Targema-Takema]
    (UAB appointed – non Sabbatical Officer)

The intention is that the CE and DCE will dedicate the equivalent of 1 day per week to this project with elements of their regular roles supported by the new Project & Operations Manager.

The project management team will be supported by sub groups (for example research) and activity programmed into all staff IAP’s.