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News | Civic University Commission

UPP Foundation receives £50,000 funding boost from Department for Education for Civic University Network

The Department for Education (DfE) has awarded £50,000 funding to the UPP Foundation to help establish the Civic University Network. The winning bid to host the network will now receive £125,000 – this includes 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 following the completion of specific milestones. The UPP Foundation is the registered charity founded by the University Partnerships Programme (UPP).

In December 2019, the UPP Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust launched the Civic University Network competition to determine which institution will be granted seed funding to host the new Network. The competition is open to universities, charities and sector bodies.

The Civic University Network aims to build on the valuable work already done by the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission, which received the backing of Universities Minister Chris Skidmore at the report launch last year. Following the conclusion of the year-long Commission, 58 universities pledged to develop Civic University Agreements (CUA) – the Commission’s key recommendation. The Network will work to support the growing CUA movement by sharing best practice between participating universities, develop a peer review scheme so that universities increase their civic impact, and connect universities with other sectors which are prioritising issues around ‘place’ to level up the economy and society.

The Department for Education will also support the project by joining its funding and advisory groups. In addition to this, Peter Myant from the Department’s Higher and Further Education team, will join the judging panel to decide the winning bid to host the Civic University Network.    

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education is supporting the development of the Civic University Network through a grant of £50,000. The Government’s contribution is a clear indication of the priority being placed on the economic, social and cultural role universities play in their towns, cities and communities following our Civic University Commission last year. The additional funding will enable the Network to have a much bigger impact in its first year of operation. I am particularly pleased that the DfE will be part of the Network’s Advisory Group, helping to successfully steer its direction and shape its activities. We look forward to working closely with the Department on this exciting initiative over the coming months.”

Pippa Coutts, Policy and Development Manager at Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Carnegie UK Trust welcomes this additional support for the Civic University Network, from the Department for Education. Universities have a vital role to play in the flourishing of the towns and cities where they are based. The Network will provide essential support to Universities that are serious about improving their contribution to the local community, and the additional funding will help to encourage more peer support and learning.”

The Rt. Hon Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said: “Universities drive innovation and economic growth and are cultural centres in our local communities, which is why their civic engagement is a central priority for me and the Government.

“As I highlighted last year at the launch of the UPP Foundation’s report, universities have a pivotal role in their local economies, business strategies as well as improving productivity and social mobility. That’s why I’m delighted to announce this £50,000 funding to establish a Civic University Network, which will help improve the relationship between universities and their communities and facilitate good practice between institutions.”

Organisations bidding to host the Civic University Network should consider the additional funding in their proposals. With this in mind, we have postponed the deadline for submissions to 5pm 30 January. The revised timetable 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. 

The competition – open to universities, charities and sector bodies – will determine which institution will be granted £125,000 seed funding to host the new Civic University Network.

Bidders will be asked for proposals no longer than 10 sides of A4. The deadline for proposals is by 5pm on 30 January. All proposals should be submitted via email to

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 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; and Peter Myant, Higher and Further Education, Department for Education. Following the interviews in February, the successful bid will be announced in either March or April.

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

Download now


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