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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are working to support the development of the new degree apprenticeships in England and the development of wider apprenticeships policy across the UK.
We are working with Buckinghamshire New University and The University of Sheffield who are leading the Higher Education Employer Trailblazer consortium responding to the introduction of apprenticeship standards.