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.
The government has pledged to ‘level up’ the country. It has also specifically committed to produce a ‘place strategy’. Work was underway on both fronts, but this has understandably slowed as the government has focused all its efforts on addressing the Coronavirus pandemic.
I’m a little late in reading Janesville: An American Story, Amy Goldstein’s tale of an industrial Wisconsin town in the depths of the Great Recession. The book received wide praise when published in 2017, telling the story of a community trying to pick itself up in the years following the closure of a major General Motors assembly plant. But the story has particular resonance now, as we stand on the cusp of another wave of economic upheaval. Here are three reflections.
One of the most surprising outcomes of the past few difficult months has been the seeming ease with which universities have changed their teaching from largely face-to-face to entirely online. This has been announced on websites promptly and factually – as if the transition is unproblematic.
Unsurprisingly, a huge amount is being written about the coronavirus crisis. Publications are shifting their entire focus onto the pandemic (‘there is only one story in the world right now’, says WIRED magazine). There has been an explosion of academic publications on the virus, with peer review processes struggling to keep up.
As we head towards week three of ‘lock-down’, my thoughts are foremost with those people suffering from COVID-19 and on the front line in the fight against the disease. Whatever our challenges have been in adjusting to the new norm of homeworking, nothing compares to the immediate personal risks facing many in the UK and across the world.
Today is my eldest daughter’s 14th Birthday; one that she will spend, like millions of children, being home-schooled, but also apart from her grandparents, whom we are socially-distancing ourselves from in line with medical advice. I can’t recall a time like this in her young life or even my own – which is considerably longer – where the world has faced such an acute crisis as that caused by the COVID-19 virus.
The Chancellor’s Budget Statement hit the headlines both for the background against which the Statement was made – the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis – and the announcement of significant new investment in infrastructure (including science and innovation) as part of the government’s efforts to ‘level up’ the UK economy.