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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.

  • Impact of universities
  • English devolution
  • Knowledge exchange
  • European Structural and Investment Funds
  • Skills
  • Degree apprenticeships
  • Higher Education Employer Trailblazer

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 2017 our economic impact report demonstrated that universities supported almost one million jobs, and contributed £21.5 billion to UK gross domestic product in 2014-15 alone.

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.

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 Research England, 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.

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. 

Degree apprenticeships​

We are working to support the development of degree apprenticeships in England and the development of wider apprenticeships policy across the UK. The future of degree apprenticeships is a new project to ensure degree apprenticeships fully meet employers' skills needs, provide opportunities and contribute to productivity and economic growth.

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.

Report cover

The economic impact of Queen's University Belfast on the Northern Ireland economy

Report
3 April 2015
This study provides an analysis of the economic impact of Queen’s University Belfast and its students on the Northern Ireland economy.

Factsheet front cover

Innovation and growth factsheet series: University involvement in ESIF 2014–2020 programme

Factsheet
20 March 2015
This factsheet summarises a recent assessment conducted by UUK, HEFCE and the Department for Communities and Local Government, exploring the extent to which universities in England are engaging with the 2014–2020 ESIF programme.

Report cover

Forging futures: building higher-level skills through university and employer collaboration

Report
22 September 2014
Case studies from across six industrial sectors highlight the variety and depth of collaboration between employers and universities.

Innovation vouchers factsheet

Innovation and growth factsheet series: Innovation vouchers and LEP Structural Funds strategies

Factsheet
19 September 2014
This factsheet provides an overview of the benefits of innovation vouchers, and gives some examples of how universities and Local Enterprise Partnerships re including them in their European Structural and Investment Funds strategies.

Report page

The economic impact of higher education institutions in England

Report
3 April 2014
This summary report outlines the higher education sector’s impact on local economies in the academic year 2011–12, the latest for which figures were available at the time this research was commissioned.

The economic impact of the East Midlands higher education sector

Report
3 April 2014
Key economic aspects of the higher education sector in the East Midlands in the academic year 2011-12 and of the sector’s impact on the region and on the rest of the UK.

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The economic impact of the East of England higher education sector

Report
3 April 2014
Key economic aspects of the higher education sector in the East Midlands in the academic year 2011-12 and of the sector’s impact on the region and on the rest of the UK.

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The economic impact of the London higher education sector

Report
3 April 2014
Key economic aspects of the higher education sector in the East Midlands in the academic year 2011-12 and of the sector’s impact on the region and on the rest of the UK.

The economic impact of the North West higher education sector

Report
3 April 2014
Key economic aspects of the higher education sector in the North West of England in the academic year 2011-12 and of the sector’s impact on the region and on the rest of the UK.

Report cover

The economic impact of the North East higher education sector

Report
3 April 2014
Key economic aspects of the higher education sector in the North East of England in the academic year 2011-12 and of the sector’s impact on the region and on the rest of the UK.

Events

Degree apprenticeships in 2019

26 Feb 2019, 09:30 - 16:00

Graduate employability and skills

8 May 2019, 09:30 - 17:00

Blog

Graduates in demand, but skills must match up with jobs

7 November 2018
With regular debates about the value of degrees and whether graduates have the right skills, Greg Wade considers the evidence from employers on graduate recruitment and their actual skills needs.

Challenging the higher Vs further education false divide

8 October 2018
UUK's Director of Policy looks at the need to go beyond the outdated and simplistic distinction between FE and HE. A new piece of research commissioned by Universities UK reinforces this message.

News

Universities UK calls for salary cap to be set at £21k to protect key higher education workers

12 February 2019
Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, has today (Tuesday 12 February) called on the government to lower the proposed salary requirement for EEA workers to gain a high-skilled work visa; to £21,000.

Support Study Abroad

Universities UK launches #SupportStudyAbroad campaign to protect study abroad in case of no-deal Brexit

6 February 2019
Universities UK has launched a national #SupportStudyAbroad campaign asking the UK government to commit to continue funding study abroad opportunities for UK students, even if the UK cannot negotiate continued participation in the Erasmus+ programme.

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