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.


Through our strategy, we will work collectively and collaboratively with partners to create more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economies and communities in Yorkshire.


As a regional partnership of higher education institutions, we have a shared commitment to place and to supporting aspiration and opportunity.

The 2019-22 Strategy

The 2019-2022 YU Strategy 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

By adopting a place-based approach to the three priorities of: Ideas, Talent, Communities – the expected outcomes are:

  • Strengthen HE contributions towards increased research and innovation activity in the region.
  • Extend partnerships across sectors to improve higher level skills pathways into continuous
  • development and learning.
  • Ensure our members are recognised more 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 in the strategy and see how we progressed in the first year of the strategy in the 2019-20 Annual Report Executive Summary and the 2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts.

Background of the strategy

In November 2017, the YU Board agreed a new strategy, structured around the concept of ‘place’, and which focussed YU on three specific priorities. This approach reflected the growing recognition of universities as ‘anchor institutions’ within national and local industrial policies and strategies, and the distinct role and contribution of universities in places identified as being ‘left behind’. The three priorities were:

  • The productivity of place – focusing on the role of universities in regional economic development;
  • The governance of place – focusing on the place leadership role of universities in the context of devolution and decentralisation in England;
  • The social, civic and cultural significance of place – focusing on the civic contribution of universities to place-making and societal development and change.

These priorities provided a focus for YU’s activity in 2018-19,  directed towards strengthening the contribution of universities in Yorkshire to place development, and building institutional and organisational capacity and relationships across sectors and between actors, whilst recognising the new policy and regulatory environment that the HE sector in England is operating within. Read more about this in the Annual Review Summary as well as the Annual Report for 2018-19 in more detail.

To see YU Annual Reports & Accounts from previous years please go to the publications page.


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.

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, Y&H Climate Commission Research & Evidence Panel, 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, Skills Network, Business Innovation and Growth Panel, Business Communications Group, Employment and Skills Panel, Local Digital Skills Partnership Board,
  • The YU Chair is also a member of the LCR LEP Board and West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Board.