The UK’s universities are world leading. Our mission is to support them. We do this by campaigning for conditions that help increase their impact locally, nationally and globally.
The success of UK higher education is built on a spirit of collaboration. The free flow of ideas and knowledge depends on it. Which is why we’ve been fostering close relationships between UK universities for more than a century.
Today, we’re the collective voice of 140 universities across the UK. Our universities have world-leading reputations for excellence in teaching and research, making a huge difference to people’s lives.
Together with our members, we aim to shape policy that allows universities to deliver the greatest impact possible for students, staff, the economy, and the communities they serve. By demonstrating these benefits, we’re helping UK universities build trust with policymakers and the public.
How our members contribute to society
Higher education improves lives
Most fundamentally, access to higher education improves lives. It provides people with an education and skills, employment opportunities and helps build a better world.
Universities attract global talent
Universities attract global talent to towns and cities across the UK. Given the international reputation of our universities, the UK remains an attractive destination for international students and staff.
Universities build international connections
International staff and students bring with them diverse ideas and perspectives and help forge lasting links between the UK and other countries. They also contribute to local communities and help create more inclusive societies.
Universities support local change
Closer to home, academic research and analysis provides local governments and communities with a robust evidence base to inform public policy.
Universities foster creativity
Universities support many creative and cultural activities. These generate exciting intellectual and artistic scenes that, in turn, attract other creative minds.
Universities are economic engines
Universities drive innovation and entrepreneurship. In partnership with government and business, academic research and technologies help an array of vital industries thrive.
Our core activities include:
- shaping national and international policy
- building public understanding of the quality and impact of UK universities
- offering support and guidance to our members
- advocating for the UK higher education sector in the UK and overseas
Our vision for the future of the UK higher education sector focuses on five key areas. With our support, UUK members turn this vision into reality for the benefit of society and the world at large:
- Opportunity. Giving everyone with the will and potential to succeed access to outstanding learning experiences.
- Impact. Maintaining our world-leading reputation for producing and applying knowledge and skills.
- Trust. Promoting public trust and political support for UK universities by demonstrating the positive impact on students, the economy, public services and society.
- Global. Maintaining the position of UK universities as global leaders in international education and research.
- Autonomy. Protecting the freedom to make autonomous decisions according to a university’s diverse mission and the needs of their students and communities.
To find out how we plan to deliver our vision, read our Strategic Plan 2018–23 (PDF)
Devolved national activities
As the voice of universities across the UK, we must account for the diversity of policies and priorities in devolved nations.
Our recent achievements include:
- International students. Campaigning for greater recognition of the cultural and economic importance of international students. This resulted in a two-year post-study graduate work visa, increasing the popularity of the UK as an international study destination.
- Mental health. Improving wellbeing and mental health support for university students and staff through our Stepchange Framework.
- Lifelong learning. Successfully campaigning for changes to make it easier for people of all ages to learn and up-skill part time.
- Collective campaigning. Bringing universities together to tell inspirational stories. Our current Made at Uni campaign, called Energising Places, showcases the role of universities in creating healthier and more active places and supporting people’s health and wellbeing as we recover from the pandemic.
- Covid-19 support. Coordinating efforts on behalf of our members to provide information, and secure support for students and universities during the Covid-19 pandemic.