In 1975, government officials published A ten-year industrial strategy for Britain. Although the volume was slim (a mere ten pages), universities were not mentioned once. Fast forward to today, and this year's industrial strategy green paper mentions universities 63 times. This is an accurate reflection of the important role universities play in their local areas – and a wider appreciation of this in government – but it is also a signal that universities are a driving force for the future prosperity of the UK as a whole.
UUK also believes the local role of universities can be strengthened further, in particular by building on local collaborations of universities. Our submission to the Autumn Budget 2017, taking place on 22 November, sets out three recommendations for government on how we can do this:
These recommendations would help tackle three particularly pressing issues facing areas looking to boost productivity and employment: the wide higher-level skills disparities that exist across local labour markets; clearer pathways into, and through, technical education, with clear and understandable information on the options available to students; and enabling businesses (particularly SMEs) to access university expertise as required. The industrial strategy presents an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the contribution of universities to local growth.