What on earth is ‘levelling up’?

This blog was written by Ronalds Busulwa, PhD student at the University of Huddersfield. Winner of the PERN blog competition, an achievement he shares with Marrion (Mo) Todd. To follow Ronalds on Twitter go to @BlackstudentsMH

I am glad you asked! Imagine a mountain where some people are at the top while others are at the bottom, trying to get all the people to the same level is ‘levelling up’, in other words trying to bring something to an equal level or position compared to another. Ok not the best analogy but work with me here, it will make sense. It is to do with ensuring that no community is left behind in resource distribution, sounds great, right? You see, where power lies matters, and the root cause of the UK regional divides is ‘over-centralization’ (concentration of power or many administrative functions in one place). One wonders why the same government in power for 12 yrs of ‘un levelling up’ is calling for ‘levelling up’ now. Cynicism aside let’s sink our teeth into this.

Is there any meat on the bones of the ‘levelling up’ policy’?

Here is thing, the most fundamental flaw in the ‘levelling up’ is this, for those at the bottom to level up, those at the top need to lose something, and that seems to go against this Government’s ethos. In the North of England, Government spending has fallen by £696m since 2012 while the South has seen an increase of 7bn. Then the government abandons plans for a high-speed railway linking the North to the South, and that was it, the eastern leg of HS2 meant to connect the Midlands and Leeds was abandoned.With the HS2 which was supposed to address the North-South divide now dead, what the government is telling those in the North is “you are not worth investing in” leavingregional interconnectivity grossly reduced.

How did it get to this? Well, one school of thought is that it’s the electoral shocks that drove the regional inequalities up the Whitehall and Westminster agenda. And the fact of the matter is that it’s almost impossible for democracy to work anymore when governments are only concerned with the people who gave them power by voting for them. Therefore, levelling up is only aimed at constituencies that returned a Tory member of parliament. The intentions of ‘levelling up’ have a lot to be applauded for example, more power should be held locally, and there’s a lot to like in encouraging local government restructuring to create the establishments that are able to take on powers, a lot to applaud but am afraid that is probably the best bit in it. And if the intentions give us hope for a better future, then this in itself is a success.

The Levelling Up white paper recently released seeks to solve regional inequalities, and it’s about distribution of resources or to be blatant money. Given that ‘levelling up’ is about distribution of finances, it’s remarkable that it was hardly mentioned in the Chancellor’s speech & features vaguely only 5 times in the full Spring Statement 2022.

So, if the treasury is not fully behind this ambitious policy how can it turn into reality? To us the people levelling up is much more than a policy, it’s access to education, employment, decent public transport, life expectancy etc and it shouldn’t be just an optional extra which is nice to have.

Last thoughts Although there’s a lot to be applauded in the intentions, levelling up is perhaps unique in its scope and ambition and the real question is what will success look like? The mayor of Manchester succinctly put it ‘levelling up’ is a carefully crafted phrase designed to appeal to the gullible. Much like “Take back control”, well time will tell.

This blog was written by Ronalds Busulwa. He is a second year PhD student at the University of Huddersfield. His research is exploring the role of faith in the Mental Health of black students at University in the UK. Ronalds is currently a Mental Health practitioner and lecturer; and also an Addictions Therapist.

Disclaimer:

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Yorkshire Universities, PERN or the University of Huddersfield.

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Levelling up and the dangers of rebranding equality

This blog was written by Marrion (Mo) Todd, Postgraduate Researcher at the University of Huddersfield. Winner of the PERN blog competition, an achievement she shares with Ronalds Busulwa. To follow Mo on Twitter go to @MoTodd5

Why has equality been given a makeover? Why are headlines incomplete without a nod towards the levelling up agenda? Why does equality need a new buzz phrase to engage people? Are we suffering from political correctness fatigue and does levelling up provide respite from that? These are all questions that burst into my head when levelling-up became the latest political waggon. Being a literature student (whose likeness to an engineer always makes me smile), I can take things apart. So let’s deconstruct this term levelling-up to see what it hides.

Equality is about being equal, about meeting in the middle, about everyone getting a fair whack at life’s pinata to see what goodies drop out. Whilst levelling-up promotes empowerment, it also supports stasis. To me levelling up presupposes there is a system in place of haves and have nots, with the haves on top and the have nots below. The theory is that the haves empower those with less advantage to step up to the same level. What’s wrong with that? Surely, everyone on an equal footing is what we’re after. I have an answer to that – colonialism. Wasn’t colonialism marketed as a levelling up policy, looking to improve native populations by introducing Western methods and Western languages into their cultures? There is a nasty aftertaste of nineteenth century patronage that also comes with levelling up; with those in power smugly patting themselves on the back for their benevolence whilst those running towards them try to elbow each other out of the way in their fight to be the ones favoured.

Levelling up suggests the ones at the top, who have always been able to see over the wall from the start of the game, simply take time out to build boxes for everyone else to stand on. In the meantime, everyone else has to wait. Why not simply remove the wall? The wall stays intact because the wall is a supporting structure, and box making is an enterprise that can generate both labour and money. So the people who need a box to stand on end up being handed the materials and the tools to make the box, whilst the person who already enjoys the privileged view carries on unchanged. Whilst I am all in favour of box makers the world over, sitting back and thinking that providing tools for people to build boxes solves the problem, particularly whilst those already in power get to carry on building walls. That is why, if equality needs a make-over, I prefer levelling out as its upgrade. Levelling out suggests the removal of the walls, so everyone gets an equal opportunity from wherever they are to take part, and also embraces the previously recognized needs from the equality agenda, for a redistribution of wealth and resources. The world is suffering from the excesses of human activity, therefore people need to be encouraged to change, not to stand still enjoying their excess whilst encouraging others to join them.

Whilst the levelling up agenda encourages those with the resources to help those with less, it still encourages classist binary distinctions and does not appear to directly address those patronizing overtones. The lasting impression appears to be one where gratitude is expected for receiving handouts, similar to a recently released teacher being criticized for not gushing over being released when she should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

Having had my moment standing on the box I’ve made, despite my criticism of levelling up as a term, there is much to be welcomed by the amount of airtime devoted to tackling equality. But with that in mind, let us be clear it’s equality we want, not a bigger box.

Mo Todd is a married mother of two, researching Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and its relevance to current changes to masculine identity. Mo graduated with first class honours in History with English Literature in 2012. When not knee deep in academic work, Mo co-directs a publishing business called Montidots Ltd whose output mainly consists of fantasy role-playing games written and illustrated by Simon Todd.

Disclaimer:

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Yorkshire Universities, PERN or the University of Huddersfield.

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Plan to Improve Graduate Employment and Employability in Yorkshire – YU Launches New Report

A new report ‘Supporting Graduate Employment and Employability in Yorkshire’ published today (17 May) by Yorkshire Universities (YU) reveals how universities, students, employers and regional institutions can together help more graduates in Yorkshire enter the world of work or start up in business. In 2020/21, 212,000 students, from over 120 countries, were studying at Yorkshire’s universities, of which 68,000 graduated last year.

Written by a multi-stakeholder Task and Finish Group, convened by YU, the report features a series of recommendations on how to improve graduate employment and employability in the region. Amongst the proposals, include steps to: create more in-study and work experience opportunities; ensure there is more tailored careers and enterprise support; enhance the use of brokerage models to better connect graduates to job opportunities; provide clearer entry points within universities for employers; and run a coordinated campaign to promote the value of graduates to Yorkshire.

Welcoming the report, Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, and YU Chair, said:

The higher education sector is a major contributor to Yorkshire’s economy, culture and society. If we are to increase social mobility and ‘level up’, then our students and graduates will be central to the success of these missions. This report rightly encourages universities to work more collaboratively and with a diverse range of students and employers, to enable more people from a wide range of diverse backgrounds who graduate in the region to realise their full potential.”

Chair of the Task and Finish Group, Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice-Chancellor of York St John University, said:

Universities and partners in Yorkshire currently undertake significant work, and invest heavily, to support students through their studies and as they move into and beyond graduation. Our report recommends some further practical actions that universities and local partners can take to strengthen the existing support that is available to students in Yorkshire, which should help to expand and improve access to more well-paid jobs and careers for graduates.”

You can now download the Executive Summary and the Main Report (opens in new tab).

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***CALLING ALL POST GRADS & PhD STUDENTS***

Does your research say something about levelling up? Is there something missing with the agenda? Is there something that needs saying? Has the government got it right, wrong or somewhere in between? Is there something else that policymakers should be doing?

We are launching our inaugural blog competition. If you have something to say on levelling up, we want to hear from you!

Simply submit a 600-word blog post and author bio to: PERN@YorkshireUniversities.ac.uk

Our advisory panel will shortlist entries and we will offer editorial support to the top 10 posts and publish them on the Yorkshire Universities website.

The top 3 will each receive a £100 cash prize and an invitation to present their research to a panel of academics and policymakers as part of our levelling up series.

Deadline for submissions extended to 29 April 2022.

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Response by Yorkshire Universities to the proposed changes to the funding of higher education in England

Thursday 24 February 2022

Responding to the publication of the government’s proposals to reform higher education funding in England, Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities (YU), said:

We now have clarity on how the government intends to take forward the recommendations in the Augar Review. It has been four years since the Review was launched, and, during that time, the world has changed in many ways. What remains a constant, however, is the value of, and the demand for, higher education (HE), and its contribution to increasing social mobility and enabling students from diverse backgrounds to reach their full potential.

HE is a vital tool for helping people, places and businesses in Yorkshire meet the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly changing economy. Our universities and other providers also play a critical role in creating the skilled workforce that key public services, such as health and education, depend upon.

Earlier this month, the government published a Levelling Up White Paper, which gave a commitment to tackling social and spatial inequalities. The White Paper rightly identified human capital as a critical investment for building more productive local and regional economies. The additional capital funding and strategic teaching grants are therefore welcome. However, financial pressures within the sector remain, and, unless we are careful, new minimum eligibility requirements to access HE student finance could limit access and stifle aspiration in some of our most disadvantaged communities. It would be difficult to see how this would square with the ambition to level up.

YU will consider the government’s plans carefully, and we will consult with our members before responding in full.

Note to Editors

Yorkshire Universities has a shared commitment to strengthen the contribution of universities and higher education institutions to the economic, social and civic well-being of people and places in Yorkshire.

The members of Yorkshire Universities are: Leeds Arts University; Leeds Conservatoire; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Bradford; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leeds; University of Sheffield; University of York; and York St John University.

The Chair of Yorkshire Universities is Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bradford.

Contact

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director, Yorkshire Universities

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Yorkshire Universities responds to the Levelling Up White Paper

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Responding to the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper today, Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities (YU), said:

“This White Paper has long been in gestation, and it forms a central component of the government’s domestic policy agenda. There is a lot of material to digest in the document, and many will be poring over the details in the days ahead.

There is nothing inevitable or efficient in economic terms about the existence and extent of social and spatial inequalities. The UK will fail to maximise its full potential whilst so many people and places in regions, such as Yorkshire, are disadvantaged and are left behind.

Today’s White Paper presents a plan for how the government proposes to halt and reverse disparities in opportunity, income, health and wealth. It is a huge challenge, and it requires long-term commitment, significant new (and above all increased) public and private investment, cultural change and partnership between all parts of Whitehall, regions and communities. One of the lessons, indeed failures, of previous efforts to ‘level up’, is that there have been too many short-term measures, coupled with regular churn and change of institutions and programmes. In addition, governments in the past have not embraced a sufficient spatial focus within national policy or they have implemented policies that have countered any attempts to address regional disparities.

Crucially, there needs to be a genuine commitment across government to level up. The intention to introduce duties on departments to monitor and evaluate their specific contributions to defined levelling up missions does provide a potential basis for generating and sustaining greater cross-government buy-in.

But this is not the job of central government alone. Levelling up requires devolution to the regions, especially in England. We welcome the decision by the government to take forward detailed negotiations with York and North Yorkshire on a new Mayoral Combined Authority, and to invite Hull and East Yorkshire to begin negotiations on a new devolution deal. All parts of Yorkshire should enjoy greater autonomy, and we would also encourage the government to strengthen the existing devolution arrangements in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

Universities and the higher education sector have key roles to play in levelling up, through the social capital they bring via their long-standing civic engagement work, and through their specialist capacity and expertise in research and innovation, education and skills, and knowledge exchange. The proposal for domestic public R&D investment outside the Greater South East to increase by at least 40%, by 2030, is welcome, but we need a clear understanding of the baseline for this funding proposal, and it is essential that regions have direct influence over how such investment is determined and spent. In Yorkshire, we have several innovation-led industrial and societal assets and clusters that could deliver significant wider benefits from increased public R&D investment, and they are prime candidates to host Innovation Accelerators. Similarly, new education and skills proposals, designed to shape long-term employment and skills provision, to meet current and future local labour market skills supply and demand, should be integrated fully within local and regional economic strategies.

In Yorkshire, YU members are working with the public, private and voluntary and community sectors to support the region’s recovery from the impacts of Covid, and to create a more prosperous, healthier, inclusive and greener region. In the run up to the White Paper, YU strengthened its partnership with the region’s local authorities, and we have described in detail how higher education, local government and Mayoral Combined Authorities can work together to deliver shared priorities, including levelling up priorities. We look forward to working with the government and our partners as the implementation stage of the White Paper begins.”

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Levelling Up in Yorkshire and the Humber – A Position Statement by Yorkshire Universities and Yorkshire & Humber Councils

The government is committed to levelling up growth and opportunity, and to ensure that no region is left behind. Yorkshire and the Humber enjoys significant strengths and advantages. But the region also faces fundamental challenges. Targeted, long-term investment would deliver real improvements in productivity, education and skills, employment participation and population health.

This position statement is timed to coincide with the launch of a new partnership between Yorkshire Universities and Yorkshire & Humber Councils. The report has been prepared following a comprehensive review of research, evidence and proposals relating to the government’s plan to level up. It identifies what levelling up means to Yorkshire and the Humber, and what higher education institutions and local government can achieve together through analysis, ideas, convening power and practical delivery on the ground.

We embrace a definition of levelling up that is based on tackling long-standing local and regional inequalities and in particular addressing the challenges faced by ‘left behind’ places. Our aim is that no person or place in the region should be left behind due to structural inequalities. The report illustrates the contributions our members make as anchor institutions, and the benefits of partnership with each other and with government. Our proposals reflect the distinct nature of Yorkshire and the Humber; a shared commitment to collaboration, and to achieving real change.

Our analysis leads us to suggest that levelling up in Yorkshire and the Humber would benefit from higher education, local agencies, government and others working together to deliver a range of actions in the following areas: skills, employment and economic growth; education; climate change and environment; health and well-being; economic, social and digital infrastructure; and housing. These policies are instrumental to the creation of a more prosperous, greener, healthier and inclusive region.

Levelling up also means empowering people and local communities to participate in decision making, and to instill a renewed sense of belonging and pride. Local government and higher education are actively engaged with local communities to enhance citizen involvement in renewing social and civic capital. In addition, the devolved institutions in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire have agreed long-term deals with government to deliver specific interventions designed to drive growth and development.

We believe that government (and its agencies) could take forward steps to support increased and more effective funding and financing in Yorkshire and the Humber. We would encourage more place-based investment underpinned by greater regional and local design, ownership, integration and strategic fit between various funding mechanisms.

The scale of the opportunity requires new and innovative thinking and action. A systems perspective would allow us to consider the impact of policies, and in cases where dual (or several) polices are implemented simultaneously it would enable us to identify interactions and outcomes. We would encourage the government to work with us to explore how a systems approach would operate within Yorkshire and the Humber. In addition, we plan to develop a Yorkshire Vitality Index to measure the impacts of the levelling up programme in the region.

Read the position paper in full here.

Related news: Yorkshire and Humber Councils and Yorkshire Universities agree new Memorandum of Understanding

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Levelling up is not a zero-sum game

Dr Peter O’Brien, YU Executive Director

In last Sunday’s newspapers, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, confirmed that the government is planning to publish its long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper this week.

Whilst other events have pre-occupied the government recently, demand has nevertheless been growing for a clearer direction as to how the government proposes to address entrenched social and spatial disparities in England (and the wider UK), not least against a backdrop of an emergent cost of living crisis and evidence that Covid has widened inequalities. In advance of the White Paper, several reports have provided cogent analysis and templates for how the concept of levelling up can move beyond theory and into practical policies on the ground. Universities, of all shapes and sizes, have much to contribute to this agenda – something that Yorkshire Universities (YU) and our member institutions are committed to – as illustrated in YU’s current Strategy.

At YU, we unashamedly promote Yorkshire. But in doing so, we avoid a ‘beggar thy neighbour’ approach, seeing no merit in regions being pitted against other regions or cities and towns lined up against fellow cities and towns, scrapping for national resources. Indeed, along with many of our partners in Yorkshire and elsewhere, we back those who have encouraged the government to reduce the prevalence of national competitions for place-based funding and introduce more devolved mechanisms. YU’s mission is to help Yorkshire become more successful, and we undertake this task by making, wherever possible, a positive case for how more public and private sector investment could unlock greater potential, build on existing assets, and create more and better jobs. We are also seeking to persuade government to recognise how Yorkshire can play a more significant part in building a more productive, prosperous and greener national economy.

In a new blog for HEPI, this week, Diana Beech, CEO of London Higher, presented a strong argument as to why limited, and perhaps symbolic policy measures – e.g. removing HE London Weighting in the name of levelling up – can hurt some of the poorest communities and citizens of London. Diana and I have written together in the past about the shared challenges that London Higher and YU members and our economies and communities face. We have called upon national government to adopt a greater spatial focus to economic development policy, and we both recognise the value of universities working closely with devolved bodies, such as the Greater London Authority (and Mayor) and Mayoral Combined Authorities. As we await the White Paper, we want to see more devolution in London, Yorkshire and other regions in England, as strong and effective sub-national institutions are recognised internationally as a key ingredient of improved regional growth and prosperity.

Levelling up is difficult, and there are no short-cuts. Tackling poverty in London, generated and amplified, in part, by the high cost of housing, whilst at the same time investing more in regions like Yorkshire, is not a zero-sum game. The left-behind agenda has a regional dimension – as Yorkshire can testify to – but it is also a problem in London, which has been described as a ‘city of two halves’. The path to genuine levelling up does not lie in constraining the opportunity for prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds, wherever they live, to go to university. Levelling up will be undermined if particular measures on graduate outcomes, such as those proposed by the Office for Students, come to fruition, as these may accentuate existing spatial divisions of (higher) education. And neither will it succeed if, in perception or reality, it sees the transfer of direct or indirect funding between poorer communities across the country. Levelling up should be more transformative, equitable, strategic, and durable than that. The test now is whether the White Paper can provide a springboard for achieving positive impact and real change.

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Working together, universities can connect diverse research assets, for the benefit of all

Monika Antal, Executive Manager

This blog was first published by JiSC on 21 January 2022

Like many universities across the nation, the 12 members of the Yorkshire Universities (YU) group supported the COVID-19 response, working with the NHS, government, industry and local authorities to act swiftly.

From vaccines to treatments, analysing data, and sharing buildings, laboratories and facilities, universities of all sizes played a critical role in supporting communities in fighting the pandemic. Indeed, the Universities UK (UUK) campaign #WeAreTogether showcased the ways in which higher education institutions (HEIs) have helped large parts of society.

As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, there’s an opportunity to consider how the UK research and innovation sector could improve the management of its research estate and infrastructure.

We don’t need to wait for another ‘shock’ to materialise before we act to be more innovative and ambitious. Climate change and the environment emergencies are already happening. They are long-term and complex issues that warrant the mobilisation and collation of physical and intangible assets of HEIs, which together comprise the ‘research estate’.

Climate change, along with levelling up, and health and wellbeing are central to the civic and inclusive agenda at anchor universities in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Regional collaboration

To this end, YU, backed by the 12 vice-chancellors and principals of its members, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Yorkshire and Humber Councils (YHC) which represents 22 local authorities and two mayoral combined authorities.

This commits both parties to work together on the key opportunities and challenges facing the region. In taking this work forward, they have agreed to:

  • Respond collectively to government consultations and policy initiatives
  • Produce joint evidence bases and analyses to influence national government policies and strategies
  • Encourage wider active engagement and participation in learning from academic research projects
  • Share knowledge and assets

Evidenced-based strategy and policy matters. Cities, regions and other local areas that can demonstrate acute knowledge and understanding about their economies, societies and environments, are better placed to make strong cases to attract investment and jobs.

As part of this effort, YU is heavily committed to the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC), the largest regional commission in the UK, which launched a regional climate action plan on 10 November 2021 during COP26.

YU convenes a research and evidence panel (REP), which provides scientific advice to the commission. This ensures that the commission connects to the region’s research base to strengthen the evidence base underpinning its work and to allow it to foster and benefit from future research.  

Key to supporting the delivery of the YHCC Action Plan and other interventions is informative, authoritative and robust research and evidence, which will be underpinned by YU’s diverse, internationally recognised research base.

In order to ensure that we draw upon this depth and breadth of expertise and talent, YU is undertaking a comprehensive audit of the skills, capabilities and capacities of its member institutions, so that the Commission can identify the best and most effective expertise in the delivery of the climate action plan.

Expertise database

The YHCC REP has developed a questionnaire to create a dynamic database of expertise across the region. The questionnaire helps capture both the broad breadth and depth of expertise across the various institutes, centres, groups, along with individual researchers based in the region’s universities.

The REP is also looking to develop a pilot Regional Climate Observatory to monitor delivery of the regional climate action plan, as well as a sustainable development index to measure the success of interventions and progress towards achieving net zero targets for our region.

We look forward to working with regional consortia across the UK and funders to support the next generation of developing a next-generation digital approach to the management of the research estate. University research, when better connected with policy making means that environmental and societal change is achieved for the benefit of all.

Note to editors:

Yorkshire Universities – has a shared commitment to strengthen the contribution of universities and higher education institutions to the economic, social and civic well-being of people and places in Yorkshire.

The members of Yorkshire Universities are: Leeds Arts University; Leeds Conservatoire; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Bradford; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leeds; University of Sheffield; University of York; and York St John University.

The Chair of Yorkshire Universities is Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bradford.

This example of best practice supports Jisc’s research and innovation strategy 2021-2023, aimed at improving the ‘recording of the UK’s research estate in support of a UK-wide research capability’.

Jisc – has committed to upgrade its own equipment.data platform which harvests and supplies a range of sector equipment catalogues. This will ensure it can support the full range of user applications to make research assets discoverable.

In association with sector partners, Jisc is looking at how digital, data and technology approaches can support innovation in the research estate – for example to support decisions about renewal and strategic commissioning, informing place strategies and policies as well as the environmental management of the research estate and significant investments in future technology.

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New YU Report: Universities and ‘Place Promotion’ in West Yorkshire

Report written by James Ransom, YU Associate

This discussion paper provides an overview of some of the key issues shaping the contribution of universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) to the promotion of place, and to attracting inward investment and increased trade into Yorkshire and the Humber, and in particular West Yorkshire.

It should be read against the background of the government’s commitment to increase total research and innovation (R&I) investment to 2.4 percent of national GDP, in particular as foreign-owned businesses in the UK spend more on this activity than domestically-owned businesses.

In addition, it also provides a contribution to discussions that have taken place at various times in the region as to how universities and HEIs help to attract and embed business investment and trade within and across city/sub-regions, regions and the Northern Powerhouse. The report also seeks to inform the emergent 2021-2025 Leeds City Region Trade Strategy.

This work is intended to stimulate debate and to provide a basis for potential actions going forwards. Overall, the region’s universities are well-positioned to strengthen their strategic relationships with Combined Authorities, metro mayors, local government, LEPs, business and others, and to collectively showcase nationally and internationally the unique strengths of higher education (HE) in the region as an asset to attract investment and jobs. In particular, some practical and immediate actions could include providing a feed of relevant university-focused news reports for local inward investment web portals, promoting the local higher-level skills base, and utilising international students and alumni more strategically.

Download the full report. (Opens in new tab).

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Solidarity or spectacle – two paths to levelling up

James Ransom, YU Associate

Politicians are fond of comparing the UK to Germany – usually as a model of how we could do something better. A recent example is Boris Johnson’s speech on levelling up from last month. “I remember going to former East Germany in 1990 just after the wall had gone down”, he said, “and I remember being amazed at how far behind west Germany it then was – a place of strange little cars with two stroke engines and fake coffee”. But then he adds, “to a large extent Germany has succeeded in levelling up where we have not”.

Read more

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Regional Policy, ‘Levelling Up’ and R&D: a north of England perspective

As published on HEPI on 3 June 2021.

This blog was contributed by Dr Annette Bramley, Director, N8 Research Partnership and Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director, Yorkshire Universities. This blog is in response to the recent HEPI report on Regional Policy and R&D. You can find Annette and Peter on Twitter @AnnetteB_N8 and @obrienpeter72.

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The contribution of Yorkshire’s universities to economic recovery

James Ransom, YU Associate

Universities UK launched a report today on the potential impact of the UK’s universities over the next five years. I wrote the report, which forms part of the #GettingResults campaign – showcasing the key role UK universities are set to play in the economic and social recovery from Covid-19.

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Graduates, Jobs and Levelling Up Yorkshire

Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director

Last week, the Queen’s Speech set out the government’s legislative programme for the next session of Parliament, with two bills in particular likely to have a direct impact on the higher education system. In this blog, I frame my comments around the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which is situated alongside the government’s commitment to ‘Level Up’ the regions, and in particular the proposal, as set out in the Queens Speech, to bring more jobs and training to people where they live.

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Boosting regional research and development: The role of regional university networks

As published by HEPI on 14 May 2021

This blog has been kindly contributed by Dr Diana Beech, Chief Executive Officer of London Higher, and Dr Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities – the umbrella bodies representing universities and higher education colleges across their respective regions. You can find Diana and Peter on Twitter at @dianajbeech and @obrienpeter72

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