Strategy and work

About YU

Since 1987, Yorkshire Universities (YU) has been the regional voice for higher education (HE) in Yorkshire. YU represents eleven universities and one specialist higher education institution (HEI). The vice-chancellors and principals of these institutions form YU’s board of directors.

The twelve members are the universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leeds Beckett, Leeds Trinity, Leeds Arts, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, York, and York St John, as well as the Leeds Conservatoire. YU thus convenes a diverse eco-system of universities and HEIs within and across Yorkshire.

Our Vision

We are an action-oriented regional partnership of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). We are driven by a passion and belief in the power and potential of Yorkshire and its global connections and aspirations. We support and encourage our members to work together and with partners to provide civic leadership in the region.

Our Approach

We will add distinct value to the places where our members are located, and the communities in which they work. We will use our combined voice as a HE powerhouse with the determination to change our region for the better.

We will champion Yorkshire as diverse, resilient, inclusive and rich in collaborative learning and new ideas. Our theory of change model illustrates how we will deliver our Strategy, which is centred around four key priorities. Where there are overlaps between individual priorities, we will ensure there is a co-ordinated approach in our interventions.

The 2022-25 Strategy

We have involved a wide range of our stakeholders in creating this Strategy, including our member institutions. In doing so, we have asked consistent questions about what they want from YU, and how they might work with us. They have told us that they see real value in:

  • YU as an umbrella organisation that can support and champion universities’ collective aspirations on global questions, such as skills, infrastructure and innovation.
  • YU undertaking a catalyst role to enable all member institutions to lead in the civic agenda through connecting public policy with practice informed by research and knowledge transfer.
  • YU encouraging stronger partnerships between higher education institutions (HEIs) and key policymakers and social and economic actors across the diversity of Yorkshire’s economies, places and communities.

The 2022-25 Strategy is underpinned by a shared vision of the power and potential of Yorkshire and its global connections, has four key priorities:

  1. Promoting the value of higher education to society, culture and the economy.
  2. Championing Yorkshire knowledge and skills.
  3. Championing civic leadership in Yorkshire.
  4. Brokering and leading partnerships.

The 2019-22 Strategy

The 2019-2022 YU Strategy adopts a place-based approach and focuses on three priorities:

  • Ideas – strengthening HE contributions towards increased research and innovation activity in the region;
  • Talent – extending and deepening partnerships to improve higher level skills pathways into continuous development and learning;
  • Communities – ensuring universities/HEIs are recognised as influential anchor institutions.

What do we mean by a place-based approach?

Our definition of a place-based approach, which underpins our mission and strategy, is a person centred, context-specific model designed to reflect the distinct needs of people, business and communities within and across Yorkshire and is driven by the principle of collaboration.

Read about the activities in more detail and see how we progressed in the first two years of the strategy:


Find out more about:

In addition, we run a West Yorkshire Higher Education Economic Development Group and the YU Policy and Communications Network.

We also convene Task & Finish groups to deliver on specific activity within our strategy, such as the Graduate Labour Market Intelligence Task & Finish Group.

Established groups and panels that YU participates in and makes the case for our members and HE in the region include: 

  • Universities UK Task and Finish Group on Universities and Economic and Social Recovery, Leeds Beckett University External Engagement Advisory Group, Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network Strategic Advisory Board, Y&H Strategic Migration Group, Y&H Applied (Health) Research Collaboration Strategy Board, Welcome to Yorkshire Tourism Recovery Task Force, COP26 University Network, Y&H Climate Commission Core Steering Group, AGCAS Regionalisation Working Party.
  • Health and Social Care Recovery Task Force Steering Group with two workstreams linked to it: Skills, Training and Workforce and Research and Innovation. 

West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and Leeds City Region (LCR) groups we are involved in: 

  • European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Committee, Inclusive Growth and Public Policy, Innovation Network (and Framework Development), West Yorkshire Skills Partnership, Business Innovation and Growth Panel, Business Communications Group, Employment and Skills Panel, Local Digital Skills Partnership Board, Green Skills Task Force.
  • The YU Chair is also a member of the LCR LEP Board and West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board.