A number of vice-chancellors and a former Treasury minister are among those advising a new charitable foundation for higher education created by one of the UK’s largest student accommodation providers.
The UPP Foundation, launched by University Partnerships Programme (UPP) on 21 April, has been established to tackle the “biggest issues” facing UK higher education and will see £2.5 million invested into the sector over the next five years.
UPP, the sole funder of the foundation, will award grants to universities, charities and other sector bodies to achieve goals including improving access and retention for poorer students, increasing graduate employability, promoting civic universities and developing global citizens.
“The issues we’ve got here are no surprises: there remains an issue about access, there is a big issue about retention. I think both of those are very important for UPP as a company, particularly around student accommodation, ensuring students can get into institutions and are retained within the institution,” Paul Marshall, business development director at UPP, told Times Higher Education.
Dr Marshall said that the foundation would also serve as a “neutral space where different ideas can be expressed”. It is being supported by an advisory board that includes figures from UK universities, thinktanks, industry bodies and government, including its chair David Laws, former chief secretary to the Treasury, and vice-chancellors such as Sir David Greenaway, Mary Stuart and Sir Steve Smith, from the universities of Nottingham, Lincoln and Exeter, respectively.
“The UK is home to some of the very best universities in the world, and in order to protect and preserve this status we must ensure that student experience, equity and accessibility remain at the heart of our higher education system,” Mr Laws said.
“Through working with the UPP Foundation, I hope to encourage debate and discussion around the future of higher education and to enable exciting new innovations to take place.”
One of the UPP Foundation’s first actions will be to award a grant to the UK student mental health charity Student Minds, which helps to create supportive environments for students through research-led training and support.
The foundation will fund Student Minds’ Student Living project, working in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University, which will develop front-line staff training to deal with mental health issues.