New centre to strengthen a university’s role in economic and social inclusion

A visible point of engagement for University of Sunderland's local communities


Universities can positively impact the economy and wellbeing of local communities

The University of Sunderland commissioned Urban Foresight to develop a feasibility study for a centre focused around themes of economic and social inclusion.

The centre will focus on both research and practice activities, but will also create a more visible point of engagement for local communities, businesses, and other partners.

Universities are often regarded as ‘anchor institutions’ that 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 are also vitally important.

Urban Foresight undertook a comprehensive programme of desk research and interviews with local partners in Sunderland, and now also covers the university’s East London campus. This evidence demonstrated a strong case for such a centre, and advocated that there was a strong logic to include issues of both economic and social inclusion.

Urban Foresight was then retained to undertake further work on the quadruple helix initiative. This mapped the resources to deliver the centre, the policy context, and learning from other similar centres in the UK. We also recommended areas of focus, operating models, funding sources, and financial models for the centre.