As we head towards week three of ‘lock-down’, my thoughts are foremost with those people suffering from COVID-19 and on the front line in the fight against the disease. Whatever our challenges have been in adjusting to the new norm of homeworking, nothing compares to the immediate personal risks facing many in the UK and across the world.
UKRI committed in its original Strategic Prospectus to publish a Place Strategy and work is progressing towards its publication. Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has opened an investigation into ‘universities and geography’. Kevin Richardson, Research England, identifies many common issues.
Last week, I was in Montréal speaking at an international conference on the subject of regional innovation. The event coincided with half a million people – many of them aged under 16, including the activist, Greta Thunberg – taking to the streets of the city to call for action to address the climate emergency.
Whilst in Canada, I heard of some ground-breaking studies and policies on local and regional research and innovation processes. Coupled with how science and expertise is shaping public opinion on a theme as substantive as climate change, my visit to Québec re-emphasised to me the importance we should attach to universities building and sustaining effective relationships with local communities and the wider public, as well as business and governments.
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.
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,
Yorkshire Universities (YU) are very much on the front foot, working collaboratively with important local stakeholders, well in advance of the expected consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The new strategic approach of YU is certainly helping members and their partners to prepare for important decisions ahead. Delivered in association with the Local Academy, those attending a recent workshop challenged each other to identify the five biggest challenges ahead;
Last week I was on the Gold Coast, in Australia, where I was speaking, as a guest of the Australian Regional Universities Network (RUN), at a conference hosted by Southern Cross University to discuss the role of universities in transforming local and regional economies.
“The advent of the local industrial strategy is placing a renewed focus on ‘place’, encouraging universities and the NHS to work collaboratively to help stimulate sustainable forms of growth and public service transformation. Dr Peter O’Brien, executive director of Yorkshire Universities, explains why this partnership presents a golden opportunity.
On Tuesday, most children, including my two daughters, went back to school following the summer holidays. The same day, I was at Westminster, where a new term had started for parliamentarians about to embark upon one of the most crucial periods in the UK’s recent history, as the county leaves the European Union at the end of March 2019.
I was in London to attend a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, which had been called to discuss the balance of public investment made by central government in Yorkshire, compared to the rest of the country, and in particular London, and whether Yorkshire receives a ‘fair deal’ from the Treasury.