English universities to team up with councils to boost regions

Hefce-funded project aims to drive economic growth and increase employment

May 13, 2016
Market stalls
Source: Alamy

University heads have teamed up with local councils on a project aimed at driving growth, redesigning public services and strengthening ties between local communities and higher education institutions.

The Leading Places Project, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), will be rolled out in numerous regions across the country later this month. The first tranche of pilots will be carried out in Gloucestershire, Manchester, Newcastle and Gateshead, Brighton and West Sussex, Bristol and Coventry/Warwickshire.

Under the scheme, vice-chancellors and council chief executives will meet to discuss local priorities with guidance from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. It is hoped that the project will boost job prospects through university researchers identifying skills gaps, and new workers receiving training to fill them. Hefce and Universities UK will work with the Local Government Association (LGA) to help the pilots and evaluate their performance.

Madeleine Atkins, Hefce’s chief executive, said universities had a “key role to play as place makers” within local communities.

“They bring a wide range of expertise and research capability to apply to the challenges facing local government and their partners,” she said. “The Cities and Devolution Act opens up new forms of investment funding, and new opportunities to tackle the issues which affect people’s lives. Strong collaborative leadership will be more important than ever in driving these agendas.”

Research from the Leadership Foundation has highlighted the potential for universities to benefit their local communities, with numerous councils now looking to engage with them more actively.

“Cooperation with universities will give councils access to greater expertise and research opportunities,” said Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board and leader of Gloucestershire County Council. “This is about applying local knowledge to solve problems as well as putting universities at the heart of creating local growth opportunities, innovation and skills.”

Nicola Dandridge, Universities UK chief executive, said the “deep roots” universities already had in their local area meant the project was an ideal opportunity to be “even more ambitious” about what can be achieved to benefit local people.

john.elmes@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride