'I am delighted to see how Focus is energising and equipping colleagues in the improvement of processes and services: Focus is contagious!' 

Gill Aitken, Registrar

What is Focus?

Focus is the University's change and continuous improvement programme, established in 2018 and led by Gill Aitken, the Registrar. It covers the spectrum of professional and administrative services that support Oxford’s academic mission.

The Focus team is part of the University's Planning and Council Secretariat (PACS).


Focus aspires to an exemplary administration: one that underpins and sustains the University and can self-review and improve to accommodate new demands without a corresponding growth in costs. Focus is about working smarter and developing our staff, so we become the best that we can be.


Focus is interested in:

Simplifying policies and communicating them clearly Improving efficiency and reducing unecessary complexity Developing trusted data sources

Reviewing and improving services delivery models

Developing process improvement skills and increasing institutional capability for change

Creating greater consistency across roles and stronger networks to support professional development

Approach and methodology

Focus uses structured methodologies to deliver large projects and smaller quicker interventions. Focus provides the tools to help people think differently about what they do and how they do it.

Focus takes a diagnostic, problem-solving and joined-up approach. The Focus experience is participatory, collaborative and hands-on.

Focus trains and empowers you and your team to identify your own solutions and sustain your journey of improvement, going forward. We don’t do projects ‘for’ you or ‘to’ you – we help you succeed in achieving the changes you identify.

Read more about the Focus approach here.


The benefits we are working towards include enhanced staff/customer satisfaction, saved time, reduced cost, lowered risk, improved data sources and improved compliance. Read more about Focus benefits here. 

Key strands of Focus activity


Through our people reaching their potential, the University reaches its potential. Across the central University and academic divisions, we are investing in developing leaders, managers and administrators and creating clearer career pathways for technical and professional staff.


Sometimes we work in ways that you would never design. Focus seeks to remove needless complexity from our administrative processes. So we can all devote more of our time to activity that adds value.

Continuous Improvement Culture

'Continuous Improvement’ means always striving for better ways to do things – and developing an organisational culture where we take repeated small steps to improve.