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.
UKRI committed in its original Strategic Prospectus to publish a Place Strategy and work is progressing towards its publication. Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has opened an investigation into ‘universities and geography’. Kevin Richardson, Research England, identifies many common issues.
The phrase ‘anchor institution’ is currently in vogue but what does it mean in reality? What defines an ‘anchor’? What kinds of organisation are in a good place to take on the role? How might their different contributions complement each other as part of a wider system? More specifically for YU, what role should universities play? These questions were posed at a roundtable convened last week to discuss a new report published by Newcastle University researchers on universities and place-based leadership.
According to an independent review of the creative industries, the creative industries are vital to the UK’s long-term productivity and global success. This is even more significant in a post-Brexit era, where universities will have an important role. A 2018 study by Nesta found that research collaborations between universities and creative industries supported by UK Research Councils and Innovate UK had more than doubled between 2006 and 2017. But progress was needed to ensure that the growth potential of the UK’s creative industries benefitted more people and more regions, and supported social mobility, greater equality and progression.
Read the letter from YU to James Farrar, Chief Executive of York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP here.
A very Happy New Year to YU members, partners and friends, and best wishes for a successful 2020.
I was fortunate enough to be able to take time out over the festive period to pause, recharge the batteries and spend some quality time with the family. During the past two weeks I did, however, keep one eye on the latest stories in relation to the new government’s plans for local and regional development following the Conservative Party’s victory in last month’s General Election. In particular, a couple of news items caught my attention, both of which relate directly to YU’s strategic objective of ensuring that the higher education sector collectively in Yorkshire plays a stronger role in attracting more investment and greater prosperity to the region.
Senior leaders from the NHS, local authorities, education and industry met last week to explore the role of health in driving economic and inclusive growth in the Yorkshire and Humber Region.
The YHealth for Growth conference was hosted by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), NHS Confederation and Yorkshire Universities and held at Cloth Hall Court, Leeds.
In spite of the profound changes in the university student body over recent decades, something of a ‘stereotype’ persists: the 18-year-old choosing a course and university by consulting prospectuses, friends and family, then leaving home to study and live in a hall of residence. After getting a degree the graduate moves again to some other part of the country, to begin a ‘career’.
The model, influential in driving the sector’s growth, has never told the complete story of higher education. Although part-time study has reduced significantly over the current decade, many part-time students work during the day and then participate in evening study; thousands of students who study by distance or open learning from home, work or a mobile base. But these students have often seemed marginal to decisions about funding, curriculum and learning provision.