Recently, YU held a roundtable in Leeds with Universities UK (UUK), which brought together universities, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), combined authorities, government and national research funding agencies. The purpose was to share information about the development of local industrial strategies in Yorkshire, to illustrate the specific role of the twelve universities in Yorkshire in industrial policy and strategy, and to identify areas of shared interest. UUK had organised eight similar-type events with universities across England, but the session in Leeds was the only one held jointly with a ‘place-based’ collaborative university organisation.
For those not fully-aware of the timeliness of the industrial policy and strategy debate, we are on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution which will result in some of the most fundamental changes to economy and society. Why is this important? Because it will alter how we live, work, and how we relate to each other. Some of us still remember life without the internet and smart phones, right? That is the scale of transformation taking place, but with much more complex and long-term implications.
Last week’s publication of a new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Smart Cities illustrates perfectly the importance of defining smart technology in urban metropolitan settings as a multi and inter-disciplinary venture requiring co-investment and co-ordination between science, technology, governance and civic engagement. Here, universities are uniquely-equipped to make major contributions within and across these areas.
Degree apprenticeships are an innovative means of widening access to learning, achieving higher-level and more work-relevant skills, and are therefore a crucial element in the drive to increase productivity. Degree apprenticeships also boost social mobility and underpin efforts to promote inclusion by enabling students to ‘earn while they learn’. They offer higher life-time earnings than most degrees, and can help narrow the employment gap between more affluent and less-advantaged graduates. They generate positive spill-overs for other degree courses and they are a vital mechanism for boosting parity of esteem between vocational and academic study. In summary, they are an excellent idea, and they are emerging at just the right time.
In the past few months the Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (WWG) has worked with a group of local and combined authorities, LEPs and central government to understand the challenges all parties face in designing a Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) that is evidence-based and builds upon the existing Strategic Economic Plans that areas have in place. From this, they have pulled together a set of ideas about how both local and central government might address some of those challenges. These 10 ideas are presented in the ‘Developing effective local industrial strategies’ guide, which was launched in London on 25 June, and I was there to hear what the experts had to say about it. Here are some of the key messages I picked up.
Yesterday, I was in Leeds to hear Research England (RE) and Innovate UK (IUK) spell out the approach of their parent body – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – to place and to find out more about the new Strength in Places Fund (SPIF). For those unfamiliar with the alphabet soup of acronyms and institutional arrangements in the UK higher education sector, RE and IUK are ‘constituent members’ of the UKRI family of councils.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of being in Hull to attend two events organised by The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) that were designed to illustrate the work of the LEP and its partners over the past year, and to also showcase a blueprint for a new local industrial strategy that the LEP is putting out to public consultation. Both meetings were part of the annual ‘Business Week’ programme.
Read the latest think piece from our colleague, Bill Walker the Director of Strategic Relationships and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Hull on the importance of place and the Industrial Strategy.
In October 2017, the Department for Education (DfE), on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS), launched a formal consultation on a new Regulatory Framework (RF) for the HE sector. The consultation will inform the approach taken by the OfS in its new regulatory role, enacting legislation laid out in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.2
On 29 November 2017, the YU Board (comprising the region’s vice-chancellors) met Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the OfS, in Leeds. At the meeting, YU was encouraged to submit a response to the consultation and in particular to consider how the RF should reflect the importance of ‘place’. This dimension has been given added significance following the publication of the Industrial Strategy White Paper. The YU response is designed to complement individual HE institution submissions and those made by national-level HEI membership bodies.
So, ten months after the government trailed its set of initial ideas for a ‘new’ approach to industrial policy in the UK, the long-awaited Industrial Strategy White Paper has been published today. In seeking to navigate a course through the choppy waters of an uncertain Brexit, diminishing productivity and widening regional and local economic disparities, the White Paper is, to some extent, seeking to lay out a long-term framework for building on some of the opportunities and addressing some of the structural economic challenges facing the UK.