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University pledges commitment to the local community

Posted on 11 February 2019

The University of York is among 30 institutions to sign the new “Civic University Agreement” - pledging to prioritise the economy and quality of life in the local community.

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The new agreement is a key recommendation in a report published today 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 have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems.

Civic leaders

These issues range from are helping local business adapt to technological change, to boosting the health of local people, improving education for school pupils and adult learners, and training and developing new civic leaders in every field from politics to the arts.

The University of York already engages in a range of activities and strategies that align with the aims of the Civic Commission – from the Festival of Ideas to our annual research showcase – YorNight.

And the recent London Economics report highlights the economic, social and cultural impact of the University.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Saul Tendler, said: “The University of York has a long and proud track record of engaging with our local community and we are therefore delighted to be among the first universities to sign the Civic University Agreement proposed by the UPP Foundation Civic Commission given the wide spectrum of our engagement with the city and its people. The University works closely with the city on contributing to its economic, social and cultural development strategies.”

 “In 2018 the York Festival of Ideas, which is led by the University, delivered more than 200 free events, in partnership with more than 100 local and regional organisations, to more than 40,000 people from the city and beyond.

 “YorNight, our annual research showcase in the city, welcomed more than 3000 families to King's Manor in November last year. The University hosts hundreds of open lectures, concerts and other events on campus that engage a huge swathe of citizens from across York and further afield.

 “We do all of this because we remain committed to our founding principles of excellence, equality, and opportunity for all and we understand the real and mutual value we gain by working closely with the people of our city.”

Civic pride

Lord Kerslake said: “The deep economic and social changes that are happening in Britain today have, alongside Brexit, made the civic role of universities even more vital to the places they are located in.

 “The civic universities of the Victorian era were founded as expressions of civic pride, and as a way of sharing knowledge and opportunity at a time of rapid change.

 “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.

“It is not just people outside university grounds who will benefit. Universities are under unprecedented challenge and need to find a broader base of support. Universities need to be part of a community which is engaged, supportive and shares objectives.”

 The Civic University Agreement includes four key points:

  • Understanding local populations, and asking them what they want. Analysis of their place and people’s priorities are essential.
  • Understanding themselves and what they are able to offer.
  • Working with other local anchor institutions, businesses and community organisations to agree where the short, medium and long-term opportunities and problems lie for communities. Linking with local authorities and other local plans, such as the local industrial strategy is particularly important.
  • A clear set of priorities. A process of agreeing clear priorities will therefore be necessary and, again, this is where collaboration and aligning resources with local authorities, LEPs (Local Economic Partnerships), NHS bodies and the like can help to identify the live issues that universities can most usefully help with.

 

 

 

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