Lancaster University reaffirms commitment to the city

Lancaster Castle

Lancaster University has reaffirmed its commitment to the city of Lancaster by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in the local community as one of its top priorities.

Lancaster joins 30 other institutions 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 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 Lancaster have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems.

These issues range from helping local businesses, to boosting the health of local people, and improving education for school pupils and adult learners.

Professor Dame Sue Black who joined the University as Pro Vice-chancellor for Engagement said:

“Lancaster is a leading university with a firm commitment to our city and region. From the doctors in our hospitals to the brilliant energy of our spin out companies Lancaster University makes a huge impact on our region but we couldn’t do any of this without the support of our local community. This report helps universities such as ours build on the excellent work that is already underway: working alongside councils, employers, cultural institutions, schools and further education colleges.”

Some of the ways Lancaster has made a difference include:

The launch of Lancaster Medical School which was part of an expansion of medical training announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The aim was to increase the number of doctors in the region because evidence shows that medical students are more likely to stay in the area where they studied.

Lancaster Medical School began in 2006 with 50 students and now has 125 places for 2019 entry.

The new Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University has been developed to work with the NHS and public authorities to improve health outcomes at the population scale, while fostering economic growth by helping businesses develop and market innovative health solutions.

As well as improving health, it will also support the regional economy, providing a catalyst for wealth creation by attracting major investment, supporting job creation and the growth of local businesses. The centre will provide exciting opportunities to innovate around digital platforms, health materials, process engineering, and healthy places; while later phases include plans for facilities for biomedical, life and physical sciences, and pathology labs.

Lancaster University is a partner on the Eden Project North, a major new attraction in Morecambe, Lancashire. Led by the Cornwall-based environmental charity The Eden Project with other northern partners including the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council, Eden Project North will be designed to help the regeneration of the area socially, economically and environmentally. Eden in Cornwall has contributed £2 billion to the local economy and welcomed more than 20 million visitors since it fully opened in 2001.

Knowledge exchange is a core part of our mission and Lancaster University has a strong track record of working across the North West region to stimulate economic growth and support the development of a knowledge economy. The University has been working with SMEs since the late 1990s. In that time, over £220 million has been secured from European and government funding which has enabled almost 10,000 SMEs to be supported and over 10,000 jobs to be created or safeguarded. An independent evaluation has shown that for each £1 invested, £14-16 of additional benefit is generated for the regional economy.

As part of the government’s Made Smarter initiative, Lancaster University will be helping to tackle the next generation of manufacturing challenges in the North West to ensure the area is leading the way in Industrial Digital technologies and supporting SMEs to revolutionise their manufacturing processes. Our Management School will be working with SMEs to enable them to embrace new technologies which emerge from innovative partnerships such as our Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre with The Welding Institute (TWI), which is focused on the digitalisation of joining and associated manufacturing technologies.

Our ‘Strategic Alliance’ with Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackburn College will see the University’s research, expertise, facilities and networks applied to improve local employment and skills, promote economic growth, accelerate reform of public services and promote improved public health. In addition, the ‘Strategic Alliance’ between Lancaster University, Blackpool Council and Blackpool and The Fylde College aims to drive innovations to improve the health of residents of the Fylde.

As part of our ‘Digital Lancaster’ strategy, we are committed to exploring opportunities for digital collaborations with the City of Lancaster and wider region, as well as nationally and internationally. This has already seen the deployment of some WiFi hotspots in Lancaster and Morecambe; and the development of the iLancaster City, Coast and Countryside app which delivers a wide range of interactive services, local information, visitor guides and event listings direct to mobile devices.

Many people throughout our region feel the direct benefits of research. For example, researchers from Lancaster University are exploring whether technology could be the key to tackling the UK’s loneliness epidemic by better connecting older adults with their communities. As part of their €2.9 million ‘Mobile Age’ project involving more than 100 older adults across Europe the team created a new app which is being rolled out in South Lakeland, Cumbria to address social isolation.

Lancaster Arts is the University's award-winning arts provider aiming to support cultural and artistic engagement at the highest level through a programme of internationally renowned contemporary theatre, dance, visual art and classical music.

As well as inviting the public to the distinctive campus-based performance spaces - the Nuffield Theatre, the Peter Scott Gallery and the Great Hall - we are proud to work with a range of arts partners across Lancashire, Cumbria and beyond.

Lord Kerslake said: “Universities have an irreplaceable and unique role in helping their host communities thrive – and their own success is bound up with the success of the places that gave birth to them.”

The report was based on evidence-gathering sessions held across England. The authors also commissioned opinion polling and focus groups in cities and towns to hear from the public what they wanted from their local university.

This research discovered communities welcome opportunities to connect with universities, and there is great local pride about how universities put their hometown on the map. The report says that the Government needs to fundamentally review policies to support further civic engagement by universities. Until the recent creation of an industrial strategy, government has for many decades been too indifferent about places within the United Kingdom – contributing to some regions falling behind.

But universities can take a vital step at this pivotal time by adopting the Commission’s idea of a Civic University Agreement setting out what they will offer local communities and which major local strategic needs they will seek to address. All this needs to be based on listening to the local community.

The Civic University Agreement signed by 30 universities 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.

List of signatories:

Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Liz Barnes, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Staffordshire University

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Sunderland

Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool

Professor Paul Boyle CBE, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Warwick

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President, Newcastle University

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham

Professor Graham Galbraith, Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth

Professor David M A Green CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Sheffield

Professor John Latham, Vice-Chancellor, Coventry University

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton

Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull

Patrick Loughrey, Warden, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor, University of Salford

Professor Quintin McKellar CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hertfordshire

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor, Keele University

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Derby

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Glasgow

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President, Ulster University

Professor Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor, University of Northampton

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Plymouth

Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

Professor Mark E. Smith, Vice-Chancellor, Lancaster University

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln

Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex

Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Nottingham

Professor Steven West CBE, Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Officer,

University of the West of England

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