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News | Civic University Commission

Organisations backing the Civic University Network

Civic University Network Partners and Funders

UPP Foundation

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said: “We are delighted that Sheffield Hallam University will be hosting the Civic University Network and we’re looking forward to working with all of their partners and the Network’s funders to get this initiative off the ground. It is vital that this happens quickly. Right now, universities are focused on the needs of their students and staff but when the sector has put its immediate plans in place there are numerous activities they can develop to support their local communities. The Network will have a vital role in helping to coordinate a long-term sector response to helping communities overcome the social and economic challenges from the spread of Coronavirus. The civic role of universities will be particularly important in developing shared community responses during this time of crisis.”

Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor, said: “At Sheffield Hallam, we have always emphasised the importance of community. In these challenging times, it’s all the more important that universities meet their obligations to society. There really has never been a time when universities’ civic role has been more important than it is now. We look forward to leading the Civic University Network, working with our partner organisations. The Network will be a vital way to support our communities in the months and years ahead.”

Carnegie UK Trust

Pippa Coutts, Policy and Development Manager at Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Universities already support their local communities in many ways, from sharing sports centres to shaping local policy and strategy. The Civic University Commission Network will further encourage that – supporting universities to listen and respond to the needs of the places in which they are based. At this time of crisis, this is more important than ever. Carnegie UK Trust is delighted Sheffield Hallam University and partners will be leading the Network, and we think the network has an immediate job to catalyse outreach from civic universities to local communities affected by the impact of Covid-19.”

Department for Education

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, said: “We need the whole country to pull its efforts together in the fight against coronavirus, and our universities are already playing an important part in this. I am confident universities will support their communities’ local response, mobilising students and staff and helping health services in the challenges ahead. I am also pleased Sheffield Hallam will become the host of the Civic University Network, helping our world-leading universities to improve their relationships in their towns and cities.”

Arts Council England

Jane Tarr, Director (North) and Director of Skills and Workforce, said: “At the moment, ensuring the people and organisations that make up our arts, museums and libraries are protected during the Coronavirus crisis is the Arts Council’s number one priority. Alongside that, we’re thinking about the long term health of the sector and therefore welcome the establishment of the Civic University Network and Sheffield Hallam University’s key appointment as the hub organisation. Partnerships with Higher Education Institutions and place-shaping remain integral to our work and to the delivery of Let’s Create, Arts Council England’s new 10 year strategy for 2020-2030. We’re pleased to be supporting this network to better understand and further develop the role of HEIs within their communities as we know that role fosters talent, culture and creativity.”

National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement

Paul Manners, Co-Director of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, said: “These are unprecedented times. How the university sector responds to the COVID-19 pandemic over the next few months, and how we work with our many communities to play our part, will define what being ‘civic’ means, perhaps for a generation. The Civic University Network provides a vital platform for us to pool our collective efforts, to be ‘greater than the sum of our parts’ and to work collectively with key partners outside the sector to deliver a coordinated response to the crisis and its aftermath. We are delighted to be a founding partner, and look forward to working tirelessly with the network to deliver on this promise.”

The Institute for Community Studies

Emily Morrison, Head of the Institute for Community Studies, said: “The Institute for Community Studies (ICS) is proud to be announced as a strategic partner in the UK’s Civic University Network. Through our partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, we are clearly showing our shared commitment to cross-sector working with communities across the UK. Through our unique ICS approach, we will be able to support capacity building inside and outside the HE sector, expand our collective understanding of civic engagement methods and work towards ensuring the long term sustainability of the network well into the coming years. There are few that can match the Institute for Community Studies in terms of its intellectual heritage, and in its re-imagined form, we are committed to fully maximising the sector’s potential to support local communities; particularly at such an unprecedented and challenging time.”

University of Glasgow

Des McNulty, Assistant Vice-Principal (Economic Development and Civic Engagement) at the University of Glasgow, said: “The creation of the civic university hub could not be more timely, as both cities and universities contend with the immediate and longer-term impact of Covid-19. The Hub will be a conduit for gathering and disseminating information about best practice from universities and their civic partners from all parts of the UK and will both bring together evidence about the contribution that higher education institutions are making to the communities they serve and though shared learning enhance it.”

University of Birmingham

Professor Simon Collinson, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Director of the City-Region Economic Development Institute, said: “We are fully committed to supporting a civic universities network dedicated to enhancing the contribution of our universities to their host regions. The current pandemic is impacting our healthcare system, our economy and our communities. This network will improve national resilience, providing a greater level of coordination and collaboration to leverage the resources, expertise and goodwill of universities at a time of great need. It will also connect a national system of local partnerships which can help drive the revival of our regions and promote inclusive growth in the post-Covid-19 era.”

Queen Mary University of London

Dr Philippa Lloyd, Vice Principal (Policy and Strategic Partnerships) at Queen Mary University of London, said: “There has never been a more important time for universities to fulfil their civic mission. The application of university research and engagement with our communities are essential to tackling the immediate threats of the coronavirus pandemic and confronting the socio-economic upheaval that will follow. That’s why Queen Mary is proud to play a part in the Civic University Network, which provides a valuable forum for institutions that share our civic commitment to collaborate and exchange knowledge on how to maximise our civic impact. Importantly, the network is also a valuable route to engage with expertise from beyond our sector, making sure that we take inspiration from our communities as much as contribute to them.” 

Newcastle University

Jane Robinson, Dean of Engagement and Place at Newcastle University, said: “There is a growing focus on the contribution that universities make to society and this has been brought into sharp relief by the current Covid-19 crisis. The Civic University Network will play an important part in taking this agenda forward. Newcastle has a long tradition as a civic university and we are delighted to be a partner in the new Network, to develop and share best practice across the sector and beyond.”

Higher Education Sector Bodies

Universities UK

Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK Chief Executive, said: “The Civic University Network will be an excellent resource for institutions and their civic partners. We look forward to working closely with them on co-ordinating, informing and encouraging universities’ community support in this unprecedented period. Universities are offering equipment, services, facilities, expertise and volunteers to help the NHS, local government, charities and communities during this crisis. Universities are central to the national effort to tackle the coronavirus and support their local communities.”


Gordon McKenzie, Chief Executive of GuildHE, said: “GuildHE welcomes the development of the Civic University Network and the decision to prioritise support for the entire HE sector in working with their communities to deal with the social and economic challenges of Covid-19. UK higher education’s diversity is its strength and all institutions, large, small or specialist have a vital civic role to play.”

The Russell Group

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Chair of the Russell Group and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “We are delighted to support the development of the Civic University Network. Now more than ever it is crucial that the higher education sector works together and harnesses our resources in support of the national response to the Covid-19 public health emergency. Across the UK, universities are making a significant contribution to the national effort, including supporting frontline NHS services, ramping up research activity and leading the UK’s efforts to rapidly roll-out clinical trials for a vaccine. In the long-term, the Network can build on this work and play an important role coordinating the initiatives many universities will be undertaking at the heart of their local communities — both to tackle the social and economic challenges emerging from the crisis and beyond.”

University Alliance

Professor Debra Humphris, Chair of University Alliance and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, said: “Alliance universities have a long and proud history of serving their communities; for some their civic contribution dates back more than 500 years. With such a strong civic identity core to our mission, University Alliance welcomes the work of the UPP Foundation in establishing the Civic University Network. Our members are already coming together to support the fight against Covid-19 and we look forward to this Network furthering collaboration amongst universities and our communities to meet the immediate and longer term challenges posed by this crisis.”


Other Sector Bodies

NHS Confederation

Niall Dickson, CEO of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS and university sector have a long and proud history of working closely to enrich local communities. This relationship is now more important than ever. The NHS, along with other public services, is being stretched to its limits and is reliant on the support, ideas and ingenuity of local partners, and especially universities. The examples we are hearing from clinicians on the ground of how NHS organisations and universities are working together are inspirational and give us confidence for the coming months. The NHS Confederation is looking forward to working with the Civic University Network, not only throughout the current pandemic, but also afterwards as we attempt to support our local communities to come back together both socially and economically.” 

Local Government Association

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s People and Places Board, said: “Covid-19 is the greatest public health emergency the country has faced in a generation, and the challenge for councils and universities has never been greater. Greater collaboration between universities, councils and other partners to address key economic and social challenges can reap real benefits for our communities. We look forward to working with Sheffield Hallam University and the wider Civic University Network to support local communities overcome the long-term social and economic challenges that will result from this crisis.”

Confederation of School Trusts

Leora Cruddas, Chief Executive of the Confederation of School Trusts said: “The work that the UPP Foundation has done to establish Civic Universities is crucially important – even more so in this time of deep social change in the context of a national and global pandemic, unprecedented in our lifetime. I am delighted that Sheffield Hallam University will host the Civic University Network. Sheffield Hallam has a proud tradition of working in civic partnership, including with schools and trusts. I look forward to working with the UPP Foundation and Sheffield Hallam to support this important work, and to connect multi-academy trusts as civic partners to the work of civic universities to create the conditions for wider social good.”

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