Our work

About YU

Founded in 1987, Yorkshire Universities is a charity and company limited by guarantee. The vice-chancellors and principals of Yorkshire’s higher education institutions are the members of the company and form its board of directors.


Yorkshire Universities works to maximise the contribution of higher education to the region, and beyond, through collaboration, where this generates greater impact and public benefit, and aspiration and opportunity are supported. We are mindful of the external drivers shaping the wider economic, policy and institutional landscape in which HE and that of our members operate, as this enables us to all times add real value to our members’ priorities. YU is a unique partnership based on a shared commitment to strengthen the contribution that universities and HEIs make (individually and collectively) to the economic, social, cultural and civic life and well-being of people and places in Yorkshire.


In November 2017, the YU Board agreed a new strategy, structured around the concept of ‘place’, and which will see YU focus in future on three specific priorities. This approach reflects 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 developing and delivering the Industrial Strategy;
  • 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, which is 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. You will be able to read more about this in the Annual Report dues to be published at the end of 2019.

Building on the above, the new 3-year YU Strategy will focus on three priorities:

  • Ideas
  • Talent
  • Communities

For Ideas in 2019-2020 we will:

  • Promote university research and innovation capabilities in Yorkshire and their contributions towards national, pan-regional and regional R&D and innovation strengths;
  • ‘Signpost’ possible investors in R&D and innovation towards potential ‘clients’;
  • Support the development of ‘place sensitive’ innovation systems in the region;
  • Encourage greater connectivity between YU members’ different capabilities to harness the potential of multi institution and multidisciplinary research and innovation eco-systems;
  • Promote greater integration between R&D/innovation and the skills strategies and funding mechanisms of national government and local and regional institutions.

For Talent in 2019-2020 we will:

  • Strengthen our knowledge and understanding of the supply and demand for higher level skills within Yorkshire’s labour markets;
  • Work with members and partners to improve graduate retention, employability and employment in the region;
  • Convene strategic collaborations between HE and further education (FE) in relation to the higher-level skills and learning offer available to individuals and employers;
  • Work with partners, especially business and FE, to ensure technical and vocational training, skills and learning reflects the social and economic priorities in the region;
  • Support YU members to deliver, through knowledge exchange and diffusion, successful business development, and industry partnerships for local and regional growth.

For Communities in 2019-2020 we will:

  • Provide a strategic framework for YU members to identify and share learning and good practice to encourage civic university and anchor institution activity within different places in the region;
  • Actively promote and disseminate the social, economic and public value of HE within Yorkshire;
  • Facilitate place-based leadership and public engagement actions between YU members and other anchor institutions;
  • Build a new strategic partnership with the health sector and others to help drive greater collaboration between health and HE across the region in support of inclusive growth objectives;
  • Work with partners to address the challenges (and realise the opportunities) facing Yorkshire that are presented by climate change.