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About the

The Commission wants to understand how civic universities operate today, how they operated in the past, and how they should operate in the future: to do that we are looking for evidence from a wide range of sources

Public Opinion

The Civic University Commission designed its framework in part through qualitative and quantitative opinion research. In our focus groups we set out to discover whether, in two English cities, the population feels connected to the universities previous generations of city residents helped establish. We held four groups in total: in each city, one group with ordinary “lower middle class” and affluent working class (C1/C2) residents; and one group with self-consciously “civic minded” residents. We also ran a ‘cities poll’ across a large number of university cities to test people’s attitudes.

Oral and written evidence

We will be holding three major oral evidence sessions across the country and seeking written evidence from as wide a range of institutions, organisations, and people as possible.

We also want universities across the UK (the Commission will welcome evidence and engagement from institutions in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland) to get involved. Indeed, we will not succeed in our aims without this engagement.  Attached is a brief on how you can support and contribute to the commission.


When we talk of the civic university many of us have a picture in mind that is rooted in the 1800s and the transformation of cities in that century. While we do not want to repeat the past, looking at how universities emerged and behaved in that period is important as we think about the future. The Civic University Commission will therefore look at how the first civic universities emerged, what they did, and why. It will then investigate how this was adapted by the new 20th century universities, and use this research – alongside international insights – to inform our recommendations.


The people behind the Commission