The University of Salford has joined 30 other institutions, including Glasgow, Nottingham and Coventry, in committing to produce a “Civic University Agreement” in partnership with local government and other major institutions.
The new agreement is a key recommendation in a report published today (Monday, February 11) by the Civic University Commission set up by the UPP Foundation and chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake.
The report sets out how universities like Salford have the opportunity and responsibility to help solve major problems in their local communities, such as helping industry adapt to technological change, boosting health and training new leaders in politics, the professions and the arts.
Lord Kerslake said: “The deep economic and social changes that are happening in Britain today have made the civic role of universities even more vital to the places they are located in.
“We are now entering a new industrial revolution when it will be even more vital that knowledge is accessible in as many communities as possible."
Professor Richard Stephenson, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Salford, said the University was increasingly aligned with the region through its industrial collaboration hubs in digital and creative, engineering and environments, sport, and health and well-being.
He said: “As another example, we’ve announced an £800m investment in a city masterplan with Salford City Council to look at the whole area around our campus and along Chapel Street. There are cultural strategic hubs embedded within that masterplan. So we are seriously investing in that space and in placemaking.”
Two-way street of knowledge
Richard Brabner, director of the UPP Foundation, said: “We created the commission to look at what it means to be a Civic University in the 21st Century and ask local people what they wanted from their local institution.
“We know that many universities want to build engagement with the community around them. It’s excellent news that such an impressive list of institutions has already signed up.”
The report warns that there is a danger that any cut in the resources available to universities – for example, a reduction in student fees without the deficit being made up in funding from the Treasury - will mean that work already being done in this area – like help provided to schools and further education colleges – could be slashed.
The report is based on evidence-gathering sessions held across England and highlighted that communities welcome opportunities to connect with universities, and there is great local pride about how universities put their hometown on the map.
Professor Helen Marshall at Salford is the first vice-chancellor in Greater Manchester to sign up to the scheme. See who else has made the pledge (below).
Pictured: The University of Salford is the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in the UK for health professionals in prosthetics and orthotics.