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Innovation, growth and skills

Universities play a vital role in supporting business and communities, promoting local and national economic growth and innovation, and supplying highly skilled and employable graduates. ​​


 

We encourage collaboration and the exchange of knowledge between universities and businesses, local authorities, professional bodies, charities and a wide range of other stakeholders to ensure that businesses and employers are supported to grow, become more innovative and productive, and can access the skills that they need.​

Supporting and promoting universities' contribution to innovation, growth and skills​

Our work on innovation, growth and skills covers a range of areas and projects. In all of these we seek to support and promote the significant efforts universities are already making.

  • Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)
  • Impact of universities
  • English devolution
  • Knowledge exchange
  • European Structural and Investment Funds
  • Skills
  • Degree apprenticeships

​Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)

We strongly support the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), which supports a wide range of knowledge exchange and enterprise activities in English universities, delivering an estimated £9.70 in benefits for the economy and society for every £1 in spending.

HEIF provides stable and flexible support for the commercialisation of research. It helps universities to sustain collaborations with businesses, charities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the local community, and to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship among their own students and staff. ​

Impact of universities​

We research and promote the economic impact of universities across the UK and the value they add nationally, regionally and locally. In 2014 our economic impact report demonstrated that universities generated £73 billion of output and supported over 750,000 full-time jobs in 2011–12 alone.​

We are in the process of reviewing the methodology we use for measuring the impact of universities to discover if it can better reflect the multiple ways in which universities have an economic impact on the UK, their region and their local area.

English devolution

Universities have a central role to play in the ongoing devolution of funding and services to local areas. As providers of education and skills, significant economic actors, large employers, key partners of public services and leaders in local growth initiatives, universities have the people and knowledge to help drive local growth, and have much to offer in strengthening and delivering devolution settlements.

We are working with universities, the Local Government Association, the government's Cities and Local Growth Unit and HEFCE to recognise and enhance the role of universities in the devolution process.

Knowledge exchange​

University collaboration with businesses and the wider community (activity known as 'knowledge exchange') plays an important part in improving the UK's economic growth and productivity, and in the success of our public services.

We work with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), higher education sector experts and representatives of the business community to increase understanding of the role universities play to encourage exchange of best practice between academia and business. We are working with HEFCE to develop a knowledge exchange framework to enable universities to share best practice and benchmark their performance.​

European Structural and Investment Funds​

In England we represent the sector in the European Structural Investment Funds Programme, which universities use to help them collaborate with businesses, charities and Local Enterprise Partnerships on innovation, skills development, and business support and advice.​

England has been allocated €6.9 billion from the European Union's European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) between 2014 and 2020.

We produce regular ESIF webcasts offering analysis and guidance; maintain a Universities and Local Growth LinkedIn group, and an email list to which we circulate ESIF Growth Programme Board papers.

Skills​

We support the development of strong links between universities and employers to boost the employability of graduates and recognition of the value of graduate skills. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has shown that 84% of employers rate graduate employability skills as good or very good and only a very small proportion of graduates lacked key skills.​

Degree apprenticeships​

We are working to support the development of the new degree apprenticeships in England and the development of wider apprenticeships policy across the UK.

Higher Education Employer Trailblazer

We are working with Southampton Solent University and Staffordshire University who are leading the Higher Education Employer Trailblazer consortium responding to the introduction of apprenticeship standards.

Economic impact of UK universities

The economic impact of universities in 2014–15

Report
16 October 2017
An investigation into the economic contribution that universities make annually​ to the UK economy through generating GDP, jobs and taxes, and their longer-term impact on the UK. 

Industrial strategy regional briefings

The industrial strategy and universities: regional briefings

18 April 2017
At the local and regional level, universities support growth by providing and creating jobs, and leading on local economic and social issues.

Factsheet front cover

Innovation and growth factsheet series: funding local development

Factsheet
13 March 2017
Among other factors, increased university engagement with local communities and businesses is leading to new opportunities for collaboration, and the need for alternative and more diverse sources of funding.

Report cover

Degree apprenticeships: realising opportunities

Report
9 March 2017
This report sets out the findings of an extensive survey conducted by UUK, with support from HEFCE, into universities' uptake of and views on degree apprenticeships – their benefits, challenges, and what needs to be done to ensure their future success.

HERB – Lords second reading

The economic impact of international students

Briefing
6 March 2017
This briefing outlines new figures for 2014–15 on the economic impact of international students studying in the UK, including the jobs generated at a regional level and the income they provide local businesses.

Analytics in higher education

Analytics in higher education

3 November 2016
Learning analytics provide a set of powerful tools to inform and support learners. They enable institutions and individuals to better understand and predict personal learning needs and performance.

Elected mayors

Innovation and growth factsheet series: elected mayors

Factsheet
2 November 2016
With widespread devolution of power and responsibility to local areas forthcoming, the office of mayor could become a viable alternate to senior national office, and one that wields considerable influence, including over university affairs.

Parliamentary briefing: The role of universities in sustaining an industrial strategy for the UK

Briefing
20 October 2016
Universities have a crucial role to play in driving an industrial strategy and future economic growth for the UK.

UUK submission to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee inquiry into the government's industrial strategy

18 October 2016
Universities have a crucial role to play in sustaining an industrial strategy for the UK. There is an important window of opportunity for government to enhance the role of universities through the use of targeted government funding.

Universities UK submission to the Autumn Statement

7 October 2016
Universities UK’s submission to the 2016 Autumn Statement sets out how universities can play a crucial role in an industrial strategy for the UK.

Blog

Universities, place and the industrial strategy

9 October 2017
James Ransom, Policy Researcher at Universities UK, highlights the role universities play in their local areas and outlines three ways in which this role can be strengthed.

Addressing the university pension fund deficit

2 August 2017
Following the news coverage on the USS pensions fund deficit, Professor Koen Lamberts discusses the challenges facing the scheme.

News

Economic impact of UK universities

Increasing impact of world-leading university sector on jobs and growth should not be ‘taken for granted’, warn university leaders

16 October 2017
According to the latest study on the impact of the higher education sector on the economy – produced for UUK by Oxford Economics – universities now generate a knock-on impact of nearly £100bn (£95bn) for the UK economy and support more than 940,000 jobs

Report predicts significant increase in the number of degree apprenticeships

9 March 2017
A report today from Universities UK is predicting a significant increase in the number of people opting for degree apprenticeships in England.

The team

Gilmar Queiros

Gilmar Queiros

Policy Intern – HE Trailblazer
Universities UK

James Ransom

James Ransom

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

Julie Tam

Julie Tam

Assistant Director of Policy
Universities UK

Greg Wade

Greg Wade

Programme Manager
Universities UK