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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 Buckinghamshire New University and The University of Sheffield who are leading the Higher Education Employer Trailblazer consortium responding to the introduction of apprenticeship standards.

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.

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.​

Events

Blog

Employment data reveals added 'value' for graduates

25 April 2018
UUK's Greg Wade looks at yesterday's Graduate Labour Market Statistics, and what they mean for graduates and the UK economy.

Government’s industrial strategy – a good opportunity for universities

27 November 2017
Universities UK's Julie Tam looks at the UK government's new industrial strategy and highlights a number of opportunities for universities.

News

University entrants remain highly qualified

4 June 2018
An analysis published by Universities UK shows that the growth in student numbers has not led to university entrants having lower qualifications.

UUK and CBI to look at decline in part-time students and future skills needs

6 February 2018
Universities UK is going to work with the CBI to look at whether higher education can introduce more flexible ways of learning to meet the changing needs of students and employers.

The team

James Ransom

James Ransom

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

Julie Tam

Julie Tam

Deputy Director of Policy
Universities UK

Greg Wade

Greg Wade

Policy Manager
Universities UK