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Embedding Flexible Learning

It is vital that the investment and outputs resulting from the Flexible Learning Programme benefit the University beyond the life of the programme. Therefore, this workstream seeks to ensure that what we learn and the changes we make become business as usual across the University, building upon our ‘flexible first’ approach to help our students fit their learning around their lives and embedding new approaches within our day-to-day operations.  

The Embedding Flexible Learning workstream explores how we can effectively develop a sustainable approach for the support of blended and flexible learning and ensure that the University of Manchester remains at the forefront of this approach to increase access to our learning experiences. 

This workstream is led by Professor Simon Thomson, Director of Flexible Learning.

Key deliverables

  • Flexible Learning Pilots:

We are seeking to identify and establish new experiences, pathways, practices and processes for students and staff.  

Key to our approach will be to provide opportunities to try out new ideas and approaches, evaluate them and make decisions about whether they are suitable for wider adoption. 

To facilitate this, the Flexible Learning Programme will support a range of pilot projects during the programme lifespan. 

Find out more about the Flexible Learning pilots and submit your proposal. 

  • New campus spaces:

We are establishing new spaces on campus to give staff and students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with new technologies, co-create innovative ways of teaching and learning, build their digital capabilities, identify, and address any accessibility issues, develop blended & online content and offer a dedicated environment to support lifelong learning.  

In our temporary home at Prospect Housewe already have some updated spaces for running workshops and events as well as a virtual reality proof of concept space to test out approaches to using VR for teaching.  

More importantly, our new Flexible Learning space in Booth Street East is projected to open in September 2023. We will be one of the first Universities to create a dedicatedHyFlexteaching space so that we can meaningfully test out this approach, helping to inform future estate planning. Booth Street East will also offer an updated VR space and content development facilities.  

  • Management of a permanent function for flexible learning:  

We will investigate the potential need and value in setting up a ‘centre’ for scoping, coordinating, and supporting innovative courses for the future. It will develop and support the Flexible Learning strategy beyond the Flexible Learning Programme, alongside national and global policy.  

In partnership with the ‘People and policy’ workstream[LINK]and in wider collaboration with colleagues across the University, we will identify requirements and effective models to ensure that flexible learning becomes business as usual for the University of Manchester. The Embedding Flexible Learning workstream will oversee this activity. 


  • Workstream Lead (and Workstream Comms and EDI Lead) - Simon Thomson
  • UCIL Lead - Alison Fisher
  • Transnational Lead- Alex Gardner-McTaggart
  • Digital Learning Lead- Ian Hutt 
  • Faculty Academic Leads- Hannah Cobb/Sarah Dyer, Niels Walet, Paul Shore 
  • Faculty Heads of TLSE- Helen Eccles, Emma Rose, Sarah Lister 
  • Exec Ed Lead- (TBC) 
  • DSE Lead- (TBC) 
  • Library Lead- Jennie Blake 
  • Estates Lead- Trevor Byrne 
  • People and OD Lead- (TBC) 
  • IT Lead- (TBC) 
  • DASS Lead- (TBC) 
  • ITL Lead- (TBC) 
  • Degree Apprenticeships Lead - (TBC) 
  • UMSU rep - Xuan (Kiki) Kang (FBMH officer) 
  • Student Reps- (TBC) 
  • Workstream Project Manager – Alex Abel 
  • Business Change Lead - Fran Edwards 
  • Project Coordinator - Beth Moorcroft 
  • Secretary - Samuel Naylor 
  • Occasional Attendees - by invitation, other workstream leads will be invited