Group demands cash pledge to back community ventures

April 11, 2003

Universities keen to work with their local communities must be properly funded and receive national recognition, a pressure group has claimed in response to the white paper, writes Claire Sanders.

The paper asked for suggestions on how universities could develop their community roles. The response, spearheaded by Southampton Institute and supported by, among others, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford universities, says: "The government's recognition of the role of higher education institutions in the community is both helpful and welcome.

Unfortunately, the proposals do not do full justice to the current importance and future potential of this aspect of higher education."

The response calls for pump-priming funds to support the "significant changes" that universities will have to make if they are to fully engage with their communities.

Roger Brown, principal of Southampton Institute, who has been tipped as the next chair of the Standing Conference of Principals, said: "The government clearly needs to think further about how universities and colleges help with the development of communities. In particular, they need to think about a stream of funding."

The response asks: "Would an institution dedicated to services to the community and to business be permanently relegated to the lower end of the pecking order, notwithstanding the fact that its mission would be directly in line with government policy?"

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