UK: Universities commit to sign Civic University Agreements
Over 30 of Britain’s leading universities have reaffirmed their commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities. The institutions are committing to produce a “Civic University Agreement” in partnership with local government and other major institutions in their area.
The new agreement is a key recommendation in a report published by the Civic University Commission set up by the UPP Foundation. The report sets out how universities have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to further support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems. These issues range from helping local business 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.
The Civic University Agreement signed by 31 universities 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.