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 and partnerships, where this generates greater impact and public benefit.


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. The new 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 are:

The productivity of place – focusing on the role of universities in developing and delivering the Industrial Strategy

YU’s activity here focuses primarily upon widening and deepening the engagement of universities in shaping and implementing local industrial strategies. A new YU Industrial Strategy Group acts as the interface of collaboration and partnership between YU member institutions and between universities and other partners in Yorkshire working together on place-based development.

The governance of place – focusing on the place leadership role of universities in the context of devolution and decentralisation in England

How regions, cities and towns are governed, and how different institutions provide place leadership, matters for building prosperous, resilient, inclusive and sustainable economies and communities. Under this priority, YU seeks to play a leading role in advocating the importance of devolution to place development and will promote universities as key actors within such arrangements. Equally, YU will work to strengthen Yorkshire’s ‘case’ within national and north of England policies, projects and programmes.

The social, civic and cultural significance of place – focusing on the civic contribution of universities to place-making and societal development and change

Universities in Yorkshire are crucial anchor institutions and play an active civic role in many cities and towns. YU is supporting member universities and other partners to work collaboratively to strengthen new and existing forms of civic engagement in the region, and to develop initiatives designed to position universities at the heart of place promotion strategies seeking to attract investment into Yorkshire.

The priorities provide a fresh focus for YU’s activity, 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.