Yesterday I attended the annual conference of the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), in Leeds, entitled, ‘Transforming Lives Through Innovation’. The previous day I was at the White Rose Consortium’s Industrial Strategy ‘Working in Partnership’ final conference, which showcased the contribution of the social sciences to meeting industrial strategy opportunities and challenges. The timing of the two conferences came a matter of hours after the first of four speeches by the Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, setting out how the Government intends to achieve its ‘2.4% R&D/innovation investment’ target by 2027.
Last week saw the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee hold its final evidence session, as part of the Committee’s inquiry into the ‘balance and effectiveness of R&D expenditure’. In evidence to the Committee, Yorkshire Universities highlighted ten issues that might help government and its agencies create and sustain a more spatially-balanced approach to R&D and innovation activity and investment.
Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore, has asked DfE and BEIS civil servants to work with the UPP Foundation to take forward the proposals published by the Civic University Commission (CUC) in its recent report. Over 40 universities have, to date, signed up to work towards Civic University Agreements, which form a key recommendation in the CUC report.
The output from this work will be a non-statutory spatial framework for the North. RTPI would like it to be brief yet ambitious, well founded but transformative, strategic and influential. The goal is that it will play an important role in shaping progressive spatial planning which will support the building of prosperous, healthy and sustainable communities, and a more competitive Northern Powerhouse. RTPI recognises that this framework will need to work across a wide range of existing geographies and organisations with responsibilities for the spatial agenda in the North of England, and their work therefore needs to deliver something additional which is relevant from a pan-northern perspective.
Guest blog by Claire Newhouse, Head of Apprenticeships and Skills, Leeds Trinity University
Degree apprenticeships present an opportunity for universities to contribute directly towards improving productivity by increasing the number of people in local and regional economies with higher-level skills. They offer a new income stream for universities, but they also provide a means for diversifying HE entrants. The dual role for apprenticeships, as a mechanism for boosting productivity and enhancing social mobility, is not without tension, although it can, at times, be taken for granted by government.
Alongside the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that assesses research, and a Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) that measures teaching we are now gearing up for the Knowledge Excellence Framework (KEF), which as you would expect will examine knowledge excellence. Yesterday’s announcement regarding the KEF pilots, of which the University of Sheffield will be one of the first participants, presents a timely opportunity to examine the broader context surrounding the KEF, and its linkages with other initiatives.
Guest blog by Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield
One of the key strengths of the Leeds City Region is its unique concentration of world-class universities, and the diverse contributions that each makes towards the higher-level skills and innovation agendas. As part of the wider Yorkshire region, Leeds City Region can rightly-claim to be a ‘skills magnet’, which is able to attract new forms of inward investment and act as a seedbed for regeneration and growth.
In this guest blog, Kevin Richardson, from the Local Academy, makes the case why universities should take an active role in developing and implementing local industrial strategies.
Part one of this blog set out a number of reasons why universities could be forgiven for taking a sceptical approach to supporting the development of Local Industrial Strategies (LISs). However, the blog also argued that adopting a longer-term perspective may prove to be the best option.
Guest blog by Nicky Denison and Les Newby
The debate on the future of universities in the UK is a sculpted fog of opportunity and uncertainty. Higher education (HE) is recognised as central to economic success more than ever before; and, with the growth of universities, there is scope for more people, businesses and communities to connect to the benefits that HE offers. But equally,