21st October 2021

Strengthening university contributions to local inclusive growth

Universities are hugely important to the places in which they are located

Often regarded as ‘anchor institutions,’ universities can positively impact the economic, social, cultural, and environmental wellbeing of their local communities.  

Having a strong connection to local employers and communities is also good for universities. It can help attract students and improve the quality of research. 

With over half of the funding for universities coming directly from the taxpayer, local support and positive public opinion is also vitally important. 

The University of Sunderland recognises its civic role and has commissioned Urban Foresight to advise on the development of an inclusive growth study.

The centre will focus on academic outputs, but will also create a more visible point of engagement for local communities, businesses, and other partners. 

Over the coming months, Urban Foresight will interview potential local partners in Sunderland, and at the university’s newly expanded East London campus.   

This research will provide insights into the local needs and opportunities in these communities. It will also inform recommendations on the activities, operating models, funding sources, and financial models for the centre.  

“Many cities are experiencing the challenges of low growth and social inequality,” said Dr Graham Thrower, Head of Sustainable Economy at Urban Foresight. “Universities like Sunderland can play a significant role in the success of their local areas and in ensuring that communities aren’t left behind.” 

The project will benefit from Urban Foresight’s previous work in the higher education sector. This includes analysing the economic impact of Newcastle University, and supporting the same university in developing plans for a Policy and Evidence Hub. 

Urban Foresight also brings wider expertise in economic development. Recent projects include developing a green economic development strategy for Winchester District, and a just transition plan for West Kildare.


Image credit: Komusar, CC BY-SA 4.0

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