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News | Civic University Commission

UPP Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust launch the Civic University Network competition

Update 16 January 2020  

Press release

The Department for Education has awarded the UPP Foundation an additional £50,000 to help establish the Civic University Network.  The winning bid will now receive £125,000 – including the original £50,000 and £25,000 contributions from the UPP Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust respectively. The additional funding has been granted to the UPP Foundation, which will release it to the successful institution[s] following the completion of specific milestones.

As a result, the panel has decided to extend the deadline for proposals to 5pm on 30 January so that organisations bidding to host the Network can consider the additional funding in their proposals.

The revised timeline for the competition is as follows:

  • 5pm, Thursday 30 January – Deadline for proposal submissions
  • Tuesday 4 February – Bidders will be informed if they have been shortlisted 
  • Tuesday 11 February – Interview in London for shortlisted bidders

UPP Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust are jointly launching the Civic University Network competition. The competition – open to universities, charities and sector bodies – will determine which institution will be granted £75,000 seed funding to host the new Civic University Network. The UPP Foundation is the registered charity founded by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), the UK’s leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure.

The Civic University Network aims to build on the highly successful UPP Foundation Civic University Commission, which received cross-party support from Universities Minister Chris Skidmore and Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner at the report launch earlier this year. Following the conclusion of the year-long Commission, 58 universities have pledged to develop  Civic University Agreements (CUA) – the key recommendation from the Commission. The Network will provide an invaluable opportunity to further showcase best practice of universities’ civic activity.

The Agreements will help to form strategies that are rooted in a robust and shared analysis of local needs and opportunities, co-signed by local partners such as the local authority, NHS, and FE colleges. The Network will work to support the growing CUA movement by sharing learning between participating universities as they develop and implement their CUAs, allowing associated institutions to build on the best practice examples of their peers. 

The Civic University Network will support participating universities through the sharing of best practice between affiliated institutions. In particular, the Network will support CUA signatories by hosting events, publishing reports and toolkits to guide the development and implementation of CUAs.

The Network will also aim to develop a peer-review model of quality assessment to ensure that all affiliated institutions share a similar understanding of what constitutes high quality civic engagement. The aim will be to develop an agreed self-evaluation and peer review model, based on a similar scheme in local government, aimed at supporting universities to expand and increase the impact of their civic role.   

Beyond this, the Network will work to champion the civic university agenda while also connecting affiliated universities with other key sector and policy stakeholders. Its remit will also include planning, and seeking funding for, its own sustainability so that it can operate beyond the lifetime of the seed funding. 

The civic university is one of the UPP Foundation’s key themes. It funds projects that help foster partnership and collaboration between universities and their local communities. The UPP Foundation has committed £50,000 and Carnegie UK Trust £25,000 of seed funding for the Network over the course of the next year. Both organisations will be supporting the CUA Network to look for longer term funding to continue the network for a longer period. Once it is established, the Network will be able to bid for funding from other relevant organisations. CUKT and UPP Foundation will also support the development of the Network through their respective events programmes.

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the UPP Foundation is supporting the creation of the Civic University Network through an initial £50,000 seed funding. By working alongside Carnegie UK Trust, the Network will enable CUA-affiliated institutions to share best practice and enhance their civic role, building on the work of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission. We are looking forward to receiving innovative proposals to host the Network, which include creative solutions to ensure that the Network becomes financially sustainable and independent in the long-term.” 

Pippa Coutts, Policy Manager at Carnegie UK Trust said: “The Trust, committed to evidence-informed policy and practice, encourages universities to work more closely with the third sector, communities and local authorities. We are delighted to support the Civic University Commission to continue through the Network, as it provides a nudge and support to universities to understand and work with the places where they are based.”

Key information

Eligible organisations who can apply to be the host/hub for the Network are:

  • A Civic University Agreement signatory university
  • A higher education or relevant sector body
  • A relevant UK registered charity

We welcome proposals from individual organisations and collaborations/coalitions. All proposals will need to detail the lead organisation, how the funding will be allocated and who is involved.


Proposals should be no longer than 10 sides of A4 and submitted via email to by 5pm on 22 January NEW DEADLINE: 5pm 30 January

Proposals will be shortlisted by the judging panel, and shortlisted organisations will be invited to an interview on 11 February in London.  The award of the grant will then be made by the judging panel (if a decision can’t be made unanimously it will be based on a simple majority).

The panel 

The panel for deciding the winning proposal is:

  • Richard Brabner, Director, UPP Foundation
  • Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln
  • Professor John Goddard OBE, Newcastle University
  • Pippa Coutts, Policy Manager, Carnegie UK Trust
  • Smita Jamdar, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau
  • NEW: Peter Myant, Higher and Further Education, Department for Education

Full details about eligibility and what we are looking for is included in our competition briefing, which can be downloaded here

Download now


CUA institutions

University of Aberdeen

Aston University

University of Bath

Birkbeck, University of London

University of Birmingham

University of Bradford

University of Bristol

Brunel University London

Cardiff University

University of Central Lancashire

University of Chester

University of Chichester

City, University of London

Coventry University

De Montfort University

University of Derby

University of East London

University of Exeter

University of Glasgow

Glasgow Caledonian University

Goldsmiths, University of London

University of Hertfordshire

University of Huddersfield

University of Hull

Keele University

Kingston University

Lancaster University

University of Leicester

University of Lincoln

University of Liverpool

London Metropolitan University

Newcastle University

New Model of Technology and Engineering (NMiTE)

Northumbria University Newcastle

University of Nottingham

Nottingham Trent University

University of Northampton

University of Plymouth

Plymouth Marjon University

University of Portsmouth

Queen Mary University of London

University of Salford

University of Sheffield

Sheffield Hallam University

South Bank University

Southampton Solent University

Staffordshire University

University of Sunderland

University of Sussex

Swansea University

Teesside University

Ulster University

University of Warwick

University of the West of England

University of Winchester

University of Worcester

University of Wolverhampton

Wrexham Glyndwr University

University of York





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