Yorkshire Universities responds to the REF 2021 results

Responding to the publication today of the results of the UK-wide assessment of university research, conducted through the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF), Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities (YU), said:

“The REF is the culmination of years of hard work by the higher education sector and those who steered the process from the UK’s funding bodies. The results reveal that there is world-class research across all parts of the country, and that a significant and growing proportion is having a direct, transformational impact upon our economy, society and environment.

“I congratulate the 6,315 FTE staff in Yorkshire whose research was submitted for assessment, and to all colleagues within YU member universities. It is evident that Yorkshire’s universities have major research strengths across a broad range of subject areas, and that we have a firm basis for building stronger research collaborations between institutions in the region. If we are to level up Yorkshire and address the major opportunities and challenges we face as a region and a nation, the research capabilities of Yorkshire’s universities, alongside their contributions to innovation, skills development, enterprise and civic leadership, will be critical both now and into the future.”

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Response by Yorkshire Universities to the proposed changes to the funding of higher education in England

Thursday 24 February 2022

Responding to the publication of the government’s proposals to reform higher education funding in England, Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities (YU), said:

We now have clarity on how the government intends to take forward the recommendations in the Augar Review. It has been four years since the Review was launched, and, during that time, the world has changed in many ways. What remains a constant, however, is the value of, and the demand for, higher education (HE), and its contribution to increasing social mobility and enabling students from diverse backgrounds to reach their full potential.

HE is a vital tool for helping people, places and businesses in Yorkshire meet the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly changing economy. Our universities and other providers also play a critical role in creating the skilled workforce that key public services, such as health and education, depend upon.

Earlier this month, the government published a Levelling Up White Paper, which gave a commitment to tackling social and spatial inequalities. The White Paper rightly identified human capital as a critical investment for building more productive local and regional economies. The additional capital funding and strategic teaching grants are therefore welcome. However, financial pressures within the sector remain, and, unless we are careful, new minimum eligibility requirements to access HE student finance could limit access and stifle aspiration in some of our most disadvantaged communities. It would be difficult to see how this would square with the ambition to level up.

YU will consider the government’s plans carefully, and we will consult with our members before responding in full.

Note to Editors

Yorkshire Universities has a shared commitment to strengthen the contribution of universities and higher education institutions to the economic, social and civic well-being of people and places in Yorkshire.

The members of Yorkshire Universities are: Leeds Arts University; Leeds Conservatoire; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Bradford; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leeds; University of Sheffield; University of York; and York St John University.

The Chair of Yorkshire Universities is Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bradford.

Contact

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director, Yorkshire Universities

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Levelling Up in Yorkshire and the Humber – A Position Statement by Yorkshire Universities and Yorkshire & Humber Councils

The government is committed to levelling up growth and opportunity, and to ensure that no region is left behind. Yorkshire and the Humber enjoys significant strengths and advantages. But the region also faces fundamental challenges. Targeted, long-term investment would deliver real improvements in productivity, education and skills, employment participation and population health.

This position statement is timed to coincide with the launch of a new partnership between Yorkshire Universities and Yorkshire & Humber Councils. The report has been prepared following a comprehensive review of research, evidence and proposals relating to the government’s plan to level up. It identifies what levelling up means to Yorkshire and the Humber, and what higher education institutions and local government can achieve together through analysis, ideas, convening power and practical delivery on the ground.

We embrace a definition of levelling up that is based on tackling long-standing local and regional inequalities and in particular addressing the challenges faced by ‘left behind’ places. Our aim is that no person or place in the region should be left behind due to structural inequalities. The report illustrates the contributions our members make as anchor institutions, and the benefits of partnership with each other and with government. Our proposals reflect the distinct nature of Yorkshire and the Humber; a shared commitment to collaboration, and to achieving real change.

Our analysis leads us to suggest that levelling up in Yorkshire and the Humber would benefit from higher education, local agencies, government and others working together to deliver a range of actions in the following areas: skills, employment and economic growth; education; climate change and environment; health and well-being; economic, social and digital infrastructure; and housing. These policies are instrumental to the creation of a more prosperous, greener, healthier and inclusive region.

Levelling up also means empowering people and local communities to participate in decision making, and to instill a renewed sense of belonging and pride. Local government and higher education are actively engaged with local communities to enhance citizen involvement in renewing social and civic capital. In addition, the devolved institutions in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire have agreed long-term deals with government to deliver specific interventions designed to drive growth and development.

We believe that government (and its agencies) could take forward steps to support increased and more effective funding and financing in Yorkshire and the Humber. We would encourage more place-based investment underpinned by greater regional and local design, ownership, integration and strategic fit between various funding mechanisms.

The scale of the opportunity requires new and innovative thinking and action. A systems perspective would allow us to consider the impact of policies, and in cases where dual (or several) polices are implemented simultaneously it would enable us to identify interactions and outcomes. We would encourage the government to work with us to explore how a systems approach would operate within Yorkshire and the Humber. In addition, we plan to develop a Yorkshire Vitality Index to measure the impacts of the levelling up programme in the region.

Read the position paper in full here.

Related news: Yorkshire and Humber Councils and Yorkshire Universities agree new Memorandum of Understanding

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Yorkshire and Humber Councils and Yorkshire Universities agree new Memorandum of Understanding

Yorkshire and Humber Councils and Yorkshire Universities have agreed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), providing a framework for a long-term, strategic partnership between local government and higher education in Yorkshire and the Humber. The MoU sets out how Yorkshire and Humber Councils and Yorkshire Universities will work together to identify and develop new opportunities for stronger collaboration between the sectors.

Commenting on the MoU, Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council and Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Councils Chief Executives’ Group, said:

“Local authorities and Universities will be at the heart of recovery as we tackle the big issues facing Yorkshire – building a globally competitive and connected economy that works for everyone; responding and adapting to climate change; addressing inequality and securing the investment in infrastructure, research and in our communities that we need to succeed. The MoU builds on our existing strong relationships and acts as a platform for sharing innovation, learning and intelligence”

Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford and the Chair of Yorkshire Universities, said:

“As civic anchor institutions, universities and local authorities work closely in different towns and cities in Yorkshire. This MoU provides a basis for extending and adding value to these existing local relationships, so we can harness and bring together our respective capacities and capabilities to support recovery and build more sustainable and equitable growth and development in the region.”

Notes

Yorkshire and Humber Councils is a partnership of the 22 regional local authorities and 2 combined authorities, that come together to identify and tackle the strategic issues facing councils and places across the Yorkshire and Humber area, focusing on capability and capacity issues, sharing good practice and using their collective voice to lever influence.

Yorkshire Universities (YU) is a regional partnership with a shared commitment to strengthen the contribution of universities and higher education institutions to the economic, social and civic well-being of people and places in Yorkshire. The twelve members of YU are: Leeds Arts University; Leeds Conservatoire; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Bradford; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leeds; University of Sheffield; University of York; and York St John University.

A copy of the MoU here can be found here.

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@YorkshireUnis                                         @yhcouncils

Contact

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director, Yorkshire Universities

Clair Parker, Senior Partnerships Officer, Yorkshire and Humber Councils

 

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Response by Yorkshire Universities to the Skills for Jobs White Paper

Responding to the launch today of the Skills for Jobs White Paper, Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of YU, said:

“Education, training and skills are vital to the prosperity of regions like Yorkshire. The commitment by the government to invest more resources in technical education, and introduce new mechanisms for individuals to participate in lifelong learning, is important, especially as the nature of employment and the economy undergoes continued change.”

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Yorkshire Universities response to the Spending Review

Commenting on the Government’s Spending Review, published today, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities, Dr Peter O’Brien, said:

“The scale and depth of the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the country as a result of COVID-19 are stark – laid out by the analysis produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility. The evidence suggests that those regions and local areas defined as ‘left behind’, and where economies have not realised their full potential for some time, will be disproportionately impacted by the crisis.

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Statement by Yorkshire Universities on COVID-19 and the new academic year

Universities and their students are essential to the economic, social and cultural life of Yorkshire. Last year, over 196,000 students attended universities in the region, and they contributed enormously towards the places in which they lived and studied. At the start of this academic year, new students are being welcomed to universities and our region, alongside many others who are returning to campus.

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