The University of Nottingham has reaffirmed its commitment to the City and wider region by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in the local community at the top of its list of future priorities.
Nottingham joins 30 other universities across the UK – which include many of the best-known names in higher education - in committing to produce a “Civic University Agreement” in partnership with local government and other major institutions.
The agreement includes four key points:
- Understanding local populations, and asking them what they want. Analysis of their place and people’s priorities are essential.
- Understanding themselves and what they are able to offer.
- Working with other local anchor institutions, businesses and community organisations to agree where the short, medium and long-term opportunities and problems lie for communities. Linking with local authorities and other local plans, such as the local industrial strategy is particularly important.
- A clear set of priorities. A process of agreeing clear priorities will therefore be necessary and, again, this is where collaboration and aligning resources with local authorities, LEPs (Local Economic Partnerships), NHS bodies and the like can help to identify the live issues that universities can most usefully help with.
The new agreement is a key recommendation in a report published today by the Civic University Commission set up by the UPP Foundation and chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake.
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham Professor Shearer West will be speaking alongside Commission Chair, Lord Kerslake and Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore at the launch of the report on 13 February.
She welcomed the report’s recommendation and said: “The University of Nottingham was founded on the principles set out by Sir Jesse Boot that our students and research will add ‘add to the honour of the city and help to increase the wellbeing of our nation’.
“Developing a Civic University Agreement is not just a reaffirmation of these values, but a clear commitment that we as a University are actively trying to think about how we might make this contribution for our city in the future. The UK and Nottingham both face significant social and economic challenges over the coming years – and the University is determined to work with our partners to help develop solutions and provide opportunities for the people and communities of Nottingham.”
The report sets out how universities have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems.
These issues range from are helping local business in the region adapt to technological change, to boosting the health of local people, improving education for school pupils and adult learners, and training and developing new civic leaders in every field from politics to the arts.
Lord Kerslake, the chair of Sheffield Hallam University, and a former Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council and Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “The deep economic and social changes that are happening in Britain today have, alongside Brexit, made the civic role of universities even more vital to the places they are located in.
“The civic universities of the Victorian era were founded as expressions of civic pride, and as a way of sharing knowledge and opportunity at a time of rapid change.
“We are now entering a new industrial revolution when it will be even more vital that knowledge is accessible in as many communities as possible.
“It is not just people outside university grounds who will benefit. Universities are under unprecedented challenge and need to find a broader base of support. Universities need to be part of a community which is engaged, supportive and shares objectives.
“Universities have an irreplaceable and unique role in helping their host communities thrive – and their own success is bound up with the success of the places that gave birth to them.”Richard Brabner, director of the UPP Foundation, said: “Universities have the ability to make a real difference to the places they are located in through reinvigorating their civic role. But this is not just a responsibility, it’s also an opportunity.
“This is an important report with concrete recommendations that all universities will want to consider. The UPP Foundation created the commission to look at what it means to be a Civic University in the 21st Century and ask local people what they wanted from their local institution.
“We know that many universities want to build engagement with the community around them. It’s excellent news that such an impressive list of institutions has already signed up and the UPP Foundation strongly endorses the report’s findings.”
The report warns that there is a danger that any cut in the resources available to universities – for example, a reduction in student fees without the deficit being made up in funding from the Treasury - will mean that work already being done in this area – like help provided to schools and further education colleges – could be slashed.
It calls on Government to fundamentally review policies to support further civic engagement by universities while also urging universities to adopt the Commission’s idea of a Civic University Agreement, setting out what they will offer local communities and which major local strategic needs they will seek to address.
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Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer, proud of our Athena SWAN silver award, and a key industry partner- locally and globally.