Ask anyone in a university working on local growth or community engagement whether having dedicated funding for this activity makes their life easier, and you’ll nearly always be told it does. The same person may also bemoan the amount of red tape, small print and complexity involved with this funding – but the benefits of European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF), for example, outweighed the bureaucratic headaches and university engagement in ESIF grew year after year.
Monika Antal, Executive Manager
One of the last non-virtual gatherings (remember those?) I attended this year was the Climate + Culture + Collaboration event organised by Culture Forum North on the 27th of February. At the time of registering to it, I remember thinking it will be a treat to participate in something that combines professional and personal interests on the same date as my birthday, so I was really looking forward to it.
At national policy level:
YU has been recognised as an external stakeholder in the COP26 University Network, which is a growing group of UK-based universities working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021. The Network’s mission is to ensure that the UK academic sector plays a full role in delivering a successful COP26, encouraging all actors to deliver a low-carbon, resilient world. They aim to do so by making access to research evidence and academic expertise for COP26 easier for government, NGOs, and other actors, and by taking action themselves.
Recently, I ‘attended’ The graduate labour market post COVID-19: priorities for university careers services and the role of universities, employers and government in preparing students event, hosted by the Westminster Higher Education Forum. With the economic crisis presenting new challenges for many young people seeking employment, including graduates, here is what I found out:
Recently, Nesta launched a report exploring how cities and regions collaborate internationally on innovation. If done effectively, international collaborations offer the opportunity to hit multiple policy priorities: levelling up regions, boosting investment in R&D towards 2.4 percent of GDP, and strengthening overseas relationships post-Brexit.
Today, on 1 August, we celebrate Yorkshire Day.
Yorkshire has one of the richest histories of any region in England. The name ‘Yorkshire’ derives from the word ‘Eborakon’, an old Brythonic name, which means ‘the place of the yew-trees’. During the Roman period, York was the capital of the province of Britannia Inferior.
Last week, a request landed on our ‘virtual desk’, originating from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and linked to a series of economic recovery roundtables that are expected to inform the emergency budget announcement scheduled for the second week in July.
Given the challenging turnaround time, YU, together with our colleagues from the N8 Research Partnership, agreed to pool our respective ideas and produce a joint response. The topics where BEIS were seeking inputs, included: innovation, investment, net zero (carbon), levelling-up and (business) start-ups and scaleups. I was asked to contribute to the the start-up and scaleup theme, and was set the following exam questions:
Tom Forth and Richard Jones’ recent report, ‘The Missing £4 Billion’, published by the innovation specialists, Nesta, presents in-depth analysis and a series of thought-provoking, yet practical, proposals on how to rebalance the current uneven geography of research and development (R&D) spending within the UK. The report is timely and has gained much attention, not least for the case the authors make for government to devolve 25 per cent of the planned uplift in R&D funding to nations, cities and regions. A stark statistic contained in the report is that large parts of the UK, including Yorkshire, are missing out on £4 billion a year in public R&D funding. Add to that private investment, and the same regions are unable to access a further £8 billion per annum. Not insignificant sums when you consider the total investment that is needed to ‘level up’ the nations and regions.
At this time of year prospective students gear up for university. Amidst the uncertainty, 2020 might be no exception despite some of the current thinking. What, in the current climate are students expecting in September? Anecdotal evidence suggests that ‘the student experience’ (i.e. ‘being at uni’) is the first thought of many. It’s always been a moot point as to how far their provider’s responsibility extends into that wider area so let’s focus on specifically educational provision. Last week’s 2020 HEPI/Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey offers some initial insights at a time of the lockdown period.
In February, which seems a like a lifetime ago now, and when it was still permissible to gather in large groups, YU invited academics from Newcastle University to Leeds in order to meet university counterparts in Yorkshire, as well as local authority and health officials, in order to present findings from a newly-published report on some of the lessons learned from the Urban Living Partnership (ULP) pilots.