Monday 11 February 2019
Coventry University is set formalise its commitment to improving the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of its home city and surrounding area.
Coventry joins 30 other institutions, including the University of Warwick, 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 by the Civic University Commission set up by the UPP Foundation and chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake. Over the last year, the UPP Foundation has been seeking views up and down the country on the role of universities in their towns and cities.
Coventry played an active role in the Commission’s review, submitting examples of its civic activity, which includes volunteering programmes, community based health initiatives, support for social enterprises in the city, and a project to maximise the benefits of migration.
In addition, the university hosted the Commission at its London campus to outline the work being done there, and at its other sites in Scarborough and Dagenham, to enhance social mobility, address local skills shortages and widen access to education through flexible learning opportunities
In September last year, the university also held its first community open day for the people of Coventry, offering free entertainment, information sessions and displays about the work it does and the impact it makes beyond education. The event was a great success and the university is planning to hold annual open days to strengthen further its links with residents in the city and the surrounding region.
While acknowledging Coventry’s public good alongside other examples from across the higher education sector, the Commission is keen to encourage a more joined up approach around civic activity to make sure this is more closely aligned with the needs of the communities with whom universities share their place.
The report goes on to warn that cuts in the resources available to universities may have a detrimental effect on the work being done in this area and recommends that the government needs to fundamentally review policies to support further civic engagement by universities.
We are very proud of the contribution that our sites in Coventry, London and Scarborough make to their surroundings not just through the provision of education but by supporting jobs, leading innovation, sharing skills, and opening up opportunity and experiences for all.
In 2018, while the foundation’s review was underway, we celebrated 175 years since we established our educational presence in Coventry so we have been part of the city for a long time and are very much aware of our civic responsibilities.
We are fully committed to building on the work we do in this area with partners across local government, business and the third sector. We therefore welcome the recommendation from the Civic University Commission calling on universities to formalise their commitment to their local communities.”
The Council has enjoyed a long history of working in partnership with Coventry University on a range of projects, including joint preparations for Coventry becoming UK City of Culture 2021. We are very pleased to see the university’s strengthened commitment to working strategically with the Council and other partners to support and grow the skills of the local community as Coventry looks to the future.”
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."
For further press information, please contact Mark Farnan, press officer, Coventry University, on 024 776 58245 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.