Home > Policy and analysis > Innovation, growth and skills

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.

Higher education in England: provision, skills and graduates

19 September 2016
This publication analyses the available data on graduate outcomes in terms of qualifications, skills and employment, and seeks to understand the patterns, the connections and the gaps in our knowledge.

Report cover

Economic impact on the UK of EU research funding to UK universities

Report
10 June 2016
EU research funding generates more than 19,000 jobs across the UK, £1.86 billion for the UK economy and contributes more than £1 billion to GDP, according to this report produced for Universities UK by Viewforth Consulting.

City deals factsheet

Innovation and growth factsheet series: city deals

Factsheet
6 June 2016
​A city deal is an agreement between government and a city. This factsheet explores their scope, their relationship to devolution and the local growth landscape, and their importance for universities.

Report cover

The future growth of degree apprenticeships

Report
15 March 2016
Universities, government and employers are encouraged to develop degree apprenticeships in this report published during National Apprenticeship Week 2016.

Report cover

Briefing: English devolution

Briefing
28 January 2016
English devolution is a complex and evolving policy process, and universities should have a central role to play.

Supply and demand front cover

Supply and demand for higher-level skills

Report
9 December 2015
As the UK economy edges out of recession and employment levels begin to rise, attention has increasingly shifted towards the supply of higher-level skills.​

Graduates, skills and jobs front cover

Briefing: Graduates, skills and jobs

Briefing
9 December 2015
This briefing considers the current and future demand for graduates, the numbers of graduates in non-graduate jobs and the role of skills mismatches, and the need to review the changing landscape of vocational education and patterns of provision.

Report front cover

Assessment of university involvement in ESIF 2014–2020 programme

Report
25 November 2015
The findings of a survey to assess the extent to which universities in England are engaging with the new ESIF programme.

Making the most of data report cover

Making the most of data: Data skills training in English universities

Report
13 July 2015
Data presents a significant opportunity for the UK. Businesses are increasingly collecting and analysing data to enhance their productivity.

Report page

Why invest in universities?

Report
25 June 2015
Universities are essential for the UK's modern knowledge economy. The UK has a university sector that many other countries aspire to emulate.

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