Universities across the UK are taking part in a week of campaigning activity to highlight their role in local communities, boosting economic growth and creating opportunities for everyone to live longer, more fulfilling lives.
As part of Universities UK’s Getting Results campaign, which promotes the role of universities in the economic and social recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, a co-ordinated programme of political, media and digital activity will focus on the important difference universities can make to the UK Government’s levelling up agenda through their teaching, research, innovation, and community and business partnerships.
This follows new Higher Education Statistics Agency data showing that graduate start-ups created more than 10,000 new jobs in 2020/21 alone despite the onset of the pandemic. In total, 15,793 active graduate businesses are estimated to have created 46,723 jobs – up from 35,637 jobs in twelve months – as well as new products and services across the country.
The data also reveals that UK universities have given consultancy advice to businesses of all sizes worth more than £500 million and been part of regeneration programmes valued at almost £300 million.
The week of #Getting Results activity, between 4 – 11 July, will include the launch in parliament of the Levelling Up Universities Coalition’s University Best Practice White Paper which outlines examples of levelling up in action and an All-Party Parliamentary University Group meeting will discuss how universities can make levelling up go faster and further.
A series of films will be launched to bring to life that it is not just students whose lives are changed for the better by universities. They feature the university social enterprise bakery getting local people into work, graduates mentoring local schoolchildren, the university maths school teaching sixth-formers, and a mother who retrained at university to be able to help others as a mental health nurse.
Professor Steve West CBE, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of UWE Bristol, said:
“We fully support the UK Government’s levelling up aspirations to spread opportunity and prosperity wider. The speed of change on levelling up will be quicker with universities at the heart of communities and at the centre of local collaboration. The number of new jobs created by graduate businesses since the start of the pandemic shows just how important universities and their students are to economic growth. Given the challenges of Covid and the difficult financial and global situation, it is more important than ever that government provides the right conditions for universities to fully support business growth and skills development for all learners to create a healthier, wealthier, and fairer Britain.”
Former Education Secretary, The Rt Hon Justine Greening, is chair of the Levelling Up Coalition:
“Entrepreneurship is a key element of levelling up that often gets overlooked – in our Levelling Up Universities Coalition we’ve seen some great examples of institutions encouraging entrepreneurship and growing the local economy as a result. Universities play a crucial role in spreading opportunity to students that need it most but they have a much wider social impact through job creation, research, procurement and much more.
“Moving forward there is a huge opportunity to develop the role that universities play as anchor institutions in communities across the UK. There is no doubt in my mind that our universities should be at the centre of the UK’s levelling up plans.”
Daniel Zeichner MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary University Group, said:
“Universities continue to be a great UK success story, boosting local economies, transforming lives and fostering understanding between local communities and students and researchers from across the globe. Celebrating that success, highlighting the positive work that goes on everyday across every university is the best way to ensure continued progress and to make sure that opportunities are offered to more and more people regardless of age or background.”