The Health Innovation Campus, the development of Lancaster, and an international initiative to promote the area as a welcoming international community were high on the agenda at a meeting in Lancaster on Tuesday 10th January 2017.
More than 100 members of the community attended ‘Strategy in the City’ at Lancaster Town Hall to hear about Lancaster University’s plans for the future and were invited to have their say.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith said that the University valued all its partnerships with the City and County Councils, the Dukes and, further afield, including with organisations such as the Wordsworth Trust and Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
He spoke about the University’s emerging priorities – and that increasing engagement with all stakeholders, including the city and the community, was vital.
One of the purposes of the evening was, he added, to hear more about what the community and city would like from the University.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Atherton then outlined three major initiatives in which the University was involved.
The Health Innovation Campus, a pioneering project to improve health care, was, added Professor Atherton, a driver for growth and job creation. Planning permission was anticipated in February 2017 with a start on site in July 2017.
The development of ‘Canal Corridor North’ was seen as a major opportunity to transform part of the city and the University was pleased to be a partner.
Professor Atherton also referred to ‘We are Lancaster’, an initiative started by the Students’ Union to communicate the values of inclusivity, recognising and celebrating diversity, bringing the benefits of the University’s international community to the city. Discussions were, he added, underway with the City Council to progress this.
Attendees welcomed plans for the University to become more engaged.
Suggestions from the floor included making the campus easier to navigate and providing clear and easy channels for members of the public to talk to University personnel about different topics.
Attendees felt the engagement was two-way. It was not just about the University coming to the city, but the city and businesses coming to the University.
Other topics and questions covered how the University and businesses could work more closely to support entrepreneurial activities, student placement and internships, initiatives to retain skilled graduates in the area and the potential impact of the Garden Village at Bailrigg on the University.
Professor Smith said the evening was also an opportunity for the University to report back on successes and changes following a similar consultation event in 2013.
The University was, he said, now ranked 13th out of 128 for world leading research in the official assessment of UK universities’ research. It had achieved a top 10 ranking in all three UK university league tables and had increased research awards to £50million in the 12 months to 31 July 2016. Student numbers had also grown by around 1,300 since 2012/13 and staff had grown by around 500 staff and an overseas partner campus in China had opened.