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INCLUSIVE FUTURE GROWTH IN ENGLAND'S CITIES AND REGIONS: REALISING THE TRANSFORMATIONAL UNIVERSITY DIVIDEND? Insights for policy makers, local leadership teams and universities from a review of eight English places

Technical Report

INCLUSIVE FUTURE GROWTH IN ENGLAND'S CITIES AND REGIONS: REALISING THE TRANSFORMATIONAL UNIVERSITY DIVIDEND? Insights for policy makers, local leadership teams and universities from a review of eight English places

Insights for policy
makers, local leadership
teams and universities
from a review of eight
English places
David Marlow, Louise Kempton
and Mark Tewdwr-Jones
August 2019
INCLUSIVE FUTURE
GROWTH IN ENGLAND’S
CITIES AND REGIONS
REALISING THE
TRANSFORMATIONAL
UNIVERSITY DIVIDENDS
About the authors 03
Introduction and purpose 04
Headline findings 05
We recommend 07
Context and why this matters 08
The genesis and purposes of the review 10
Insight #1 13
Insight #2 15
Insight #3 18
Insight #4 20
Insight #5 23
Conclusions and next steps 26
References and further reading 28
CONTENTS
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
David Marlow is Chief Executive of Third
Life Economics and a visiting Professor
of Practice in the Centre for Urban and
Regional Development Studies (CURDS)
at Newcastle University.
Louise Kempton is a Senior Research
Associate in the Centre for Urban and
Regional Development Studies (CURDS)
at Newcastle University.
Mark Tewdwr-Jones is Professor of Town
Planning and Director of Newcastle City
Futures at Newcastle University. He is also
Chair of the Regional Studies Association.
Report authored by David Marlow, Louise Kempton
and Mark Tewdwr-Jones.
This work was supported by the Economic and Social
Research Council, Impact Acceleration Account [Grant
Ref: ES/M500513/1, Newcastle University], Newcastle City
Futures UKRI/Innovate UK urban living partnership (Grant
Ref. No. EP/P00203X/1), Newcastle University; Plymouth
College of Art.
Published by Newcastle City Futures, Newcastle
University. August 2019.
This report should be cited as:
Marlow, D., Kempton, L. and Tewdwr-Jones, M. (2019),
Inclusive Future Growth in England’s Cities and Regions:
Realising the Transformational University Dividend?,
Newcastle City Futures, Newcastle University,
Newcastle upon Tyne.
Funded by:
03
BIRMINGHAM
KEELE
BRISTOL
PLYMOUTH
LINCOLN
YORK
LEEDS
NEWCASTLE
GATESHEAD
This report presents the results
of a lesson-learning review into
the impact of the Urban Living
Partnership (ULP) pilot programme
in five places – Birmingham, Bristol,
Leeds, NewcastleGateshead
and York – together with three
comparator case studies – Keele,
Lincoln and Plymouth. It explores
the contribution universities have
made to inclusive future growth in
their local city and its hinterland.
This review is both significant and timely because there
is much ongoing work and expectations of university
participation in place-based policies and programmes.
It builds directly on the February 2019 Civic University
Commission report into university-place relations. It
informs the design and development of strategies and
programmes specifically designed for place-based
growth and development – notably the impending
delivery of Local Industrial Strategies and the roll
out of the Shared Prosperity, Stronger Towns and
Strength in Places Funds. It recognises universities and
other higher education institutions (HEIs) also make
significant contributions to the wider economic, social
and environmental policies and strategies in the area
where they are located.
Our overall aim is to translate the lessons from the
eight case studies reviewed to help shape better
university involvement in place as local leadership
teams and their partners navigate these policies and
programmes.
INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSEINTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE
THE 8
PLACES
REVIEWED
04
HEADLINE FINDINGSHEADLINE FINDINGS
Our overarching conclusion is that
there is a coherent, broad-based
menu of interventions that places
need from their universities if they
are to progress inclusive future
growth eectively. However the
current way anchor institution and
civic university collaboration is being
understood will not deliver this.
Our five key findings are:
1 Instead of asking the traditional civic
university question – i.e. ‘what can
universities do for their place?’ ask ‘what
do places need from their universities?’
It is the local leadership team that should
set the collaborative agendas (to suit
its configuration of universities and key
partners) rather than a specific university
defining the agenda itself.
2 Context is important on three levels;
the nature of the place, the forms and
functions of local governance, and
the characteristics of the local higher
education configuration. Nationally
prescriptive, place-blind strategies
founded on world views of clear civic
leadership working with a single large
full-service university anchor apply
almost nowhere in England and therefore
will inevitably be sub-optimal. Civic
university agendas must be shaped by
the opportunities and challenges of the
place and how city-led, polycentric or
non-metropolitan it is; by the degree
to which local governance is aligned
or contested; and by the number and
character of universities across the
relevant geography.
05
3 There is a coherent menu of
intervention strategies that universities
are particularly well-placed to lead
and manage that can provide key
foundations for purposeful, inclusive,
future place-based growth and
management of change. Universities
can enable the visioning, knowledge
aggregation, design and appraisal, the
neutral safe spaces for deliberative
exchange, testbeds for experimental and
pilot projects, and contributions to local
leadership teams that create a coherent,
cohesive inclusive future places eco-
system for their geography.
4 These interventions will be strengthened
if large, full-service, research-intensive
anchors welcome and encourage smaller
HEIs and/or their own arms-length
entities to engage consistently
in local leadership and management.
The risk of anchor institution and civic
university orthodoxy is that the university
is (or is seen to be) part of an incumbent
local elite, determining the allocations of
national and local assets and resources
opaquely among themselves, rather than
the university acting as an honest broker
for challenge and change. Encouraging
more diverse models of local leadership
‘top tables’ can help to address this.
5 There is a strong case for a bespoke
national programme to deepen and
develop these findings across a wider
cross-section of places. This will deliver
much more focused, context-specific
and consistent university contributions
to inclusive future growth eco-systems
and place leadership. It will, for relatively
modest cost, complement and add
real value to the development of Local
Industrial Strategies and other place-
based programmes without which
university engagement will be sub-
optimal and erratic.
06
WE RECOMMEND
GOVERNMENT
supports a medium-
term, medium resourced
Urban Living Partnership pilot
successor programme. This should
build on the pilot programme lessons,
but also test and develop our Urban
Living Framework across broader
configurations of universities in
metropolitan and non-metropolitan
areas.
WE RECOMMEND
UNIVERSITIES
consider the insights
presented here in shaping
development of Civic University
Agreements, their involvement in
Local Industrial Strategies and how
they deliver place-based impacts.
They should do this as part of a cohort
of Higher Education Institutions
in their local, sub-regional and/or
regional geographies eschewing
institutional silos both within the
university, between them, and across
the place’s institutional configurations
beyond traditional anchors.
WE RECOMMEND LOCAL
LEADERSHIP TEAMS
digest the findings of this
review before finalising
compact or agreements with their
universities. They may wish to use the
Urban Living Framework presented in
this document to ensure the optimal
contribution of all their universities in
design and delivery of place-based
policies and programmes.
WE RECOMMEND...
07
CONTEXT AND
WHY THIS MATTERS
All places in England are being
tested by the agendas of managing
grand societal challenges, disruptive
economic transformation, Brexit
and the volatility created by its as
yet uncertain implications for the
economy and society in general. They
are meeting these tests in a context
where, amongst advanced countries,
the UK has enduringly extreme place-
based dierentials in performance
and outcomes within a comparatively
highly centralised system of political
leadership and administration.
All places in England
are being tested
by the agendas of
managing grand
societal challenges
08
How can ambitious places – cities,
city/sub-regions, or regions – meet
these challenges?
One of the major responses proered by
national and sub-national policy makers
is that places should make better use of
the assets and capabilities of their local
universities.
Universities – large and small, full-service
and specialist – have the potential, and
are increasingly expected, to be proactive
drivers of inclusive growth and development
in the places in which they are located. They
are often one of the largest institutional
anchors particularly in lagging cities and
regions. They are arguably less prone to
political volatility than other public policy
anchors, particularly and they contain a
portfolio of expertise across a breadth of
academic areas.
A considerable amount of work has already
gone into how to improve university
collaboration and impact locally – from
Government reviews (e.g. Wilson, Witty), to
independent inquiries (e.g. Civic University
Commission), to initiatives by individual
universities themselves (e.g. Warwick
Chancellor’s Commission). Indeed, the
recent Civic University Commission report
proposed a generation of ‘Civic University
Agreements’ to propel new models and
arrangements to capture and harvest
local university dividends for place-based
inclusive future growth. Over 50 universities
to date have responded enthusiastically
to the report, signalling an intention to
progress an agreement.
Yet, evidence suggests the track record of
university ‘civic-ness’ is highly inconsistent.
Alongside some impressive evidence of
transformational impact are swathes of
instrumental engagement (i.e. when there is
something the university wants locally) and
sometimes indierent place-blindness.
If ambitious places want to consistently
optimise university impact, what do
they have to do? And how can the 50+
signatories (and those not yet formally
committed) respond?
The insights presented in this report are
based on a review of eight cases. We
believe they provide insights and practical
steps that can be taken to answer these
questions – increasing university dividends
for place-based inclusive future growth,
and managing change more generally,
in this most uncertain of periods.
CONTEXT AND WHY THIS MATTERS
09
THE GENESIS &
PURPOSES OF
THE REVIEW
The origins of this review arose
from a 2017 exercise in Plymouth
undertaken by Plymouth College of
Art (PCA). PCA is a small specialist
HEI whose intense civic engagement
is largely outside formal city-
leadership structures which are
expected to ‘host’ anchor institution
collaboration. The PCA case takes
a provocative approach to anchor
institution orthodoxy, suggesting that
civic university practice is too often
instrumental for the university itself
rather than purposeful for the place
that receives it.
...civic university
practice is too often
instrumental for the
university itself rather
than purposeful for the
place that receives it.
10
The UKRI funded Urban Living Partnership
(ULP) pilot aimed to “harness UK research
and innovation strength to help cities
realise a vision of healthy, prosperous
and sustainable living.” The ULP pilot
programmes provided a vehicle for
preliminary investigation into how university-
led consortia can promote innovation that
progresses the challenges of delivering
inclusive ‘future city’ growth. Birmingham,
Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle and York were
selected as the five pilots, led by
these cities’ Russell Group universities*.
The application of the PCA provocation to the
ULPs looked explicitly at actions undertaken
by the pilot programme in each of the cities,
rather than considering the overall impact
of each University as a whole. The final
two cases extended this analysis to two
‘full-service’ non-metropolitan, non-Russell
Group HEIs – Keele and Lincoln – to allow
comparative analysis from a dierent place
and higher education context. Like PCA, these
are (high-level) whole-institution cases.
The analysis had three broad aims:
To understand how English ‘places’ can
make the most of their universities in
addressing current and future challenges
To provide evidenced insight into what
types of universities in what types of
places are more likely to act as positive
radical place-transformers in delivering
inclusive growth agendas
To inform the ongoing design and
development of Local Industrial Strategies
and other place-based policies and funding
programmes such as UKRI’s Strength in
Places, the Shared Prosperity and
the recently announced Stronger Towns
Funds.
Desk research and field visits were
undertaken to each of the universities and
their local geographies for interviews
and discussions with eight universities
themselves, local enterprise partnerships,
local authorities, industry and third sector
organisations. Whilst the insights and
analysis discussed in this review focuses on
the eight case studies, and notes the striking
dierences between them, we consider there
are significant general findings for the wider
English and even UK university sector. There
is also considerable international interest in
understanding how to galvanise universities
for local and regional development for which
these findings may also have relevance and
application.
THE GENESIS AND PURPOSES OF THE REVIEW
* A membership group of the 24 UK universities that regard themselves as world leading. 11
There are over 130 publicly funded higher
education institutions (HEIs) in England with
more than 2.3 million students, 200,000
academic sta, over 400,000 sta in total
and income in excess of £33 billion per
annum. There is huge variety of size, scope
and character within the sector. Average
annual income per HEI is over £200m, but
around 20 institutions generate less than £25
million each while four generate more than
£1 billion.
The average size in terms of student
enrolment is around 14,000. However this
ranges from just over 40,000 at Manchester
to smaller, often discipline specific,
specialists with fewer than 1,000. The
character of universities varies from
globally orientated research-intensive
through to newer teaching or technical-
oriented to small specialists. Moreover, there
is a (currently) small private university sector
which Government policy is seeking to grow
rapidly and aggressively as a challenge to
the domination of publicly supported HEIs.
This review presents lessons from eight HEI
cases in places with, in total, well over 20
HEIs in their city-region geographies. The
places are a mix of metropolitan cities, non-
metropolitan cities and smaller cities with
rural hinterland. The five ULPs are research
intensive, globally orientated universities.
Keele, Lincoln and PCA provide interesting
comparators. However we acknowledge the
eight places and their HEIs are not the whole
England story, hence our recommendation
for a successor to the ULP to test the model
across a wider range of geographies and
contexts.
In terms of London, as the UKs only ‘world
city’, the city’s HEI and inclusive future growth
eco-system is particularly complex and
unique. Similarly the devolved nations of
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which
have devolved responsibilities for higher
education policy are distinctive from the
English cases. However, with these caveats,
we consider the lessons from this exercise
may be useful for places throughout the
UK, but particularly for the 37 English Local
Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) outside
London tasked with negotiating and
delivering Local Industrial Strategies (LIS).
The exercise presents five principal insights
and recommendations for policy makers,
local leadership teams, and their universities.
THERE ARE OVER 130 PUBLICLY FUNDED
HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS (HEIS)
IN ENGLAND WITH MORE THAN 2.3
MILLION STUDENTS, 200,000 ACADEMIC
STAFF, OVER 400,000 STAFF IN TOTAL
AND INCOME IN EXCESS OF £33 BILLION
PER YEAR.
12
INSTEAD OF ASKING THE
TRADITIONAL CIVIC UNIVERSITY
QUESTION – I.E. ‘WHAT CAN
UNIVERSITIES DO FOR THEIR
PLACE?’ ASK ‘WHAT DO PLACES
NEED FROM THEIR UNIVERSITIES?’
There is a lot of evidence of civic excellence
and positive local outcomes in many
universities’ activities and (usually self-
commissioned) institutional impact analyses.
But, too often, these amount to a portfolio of
individual interventions rather than a coherent
place-based agenda co-designed and agreed
with diverse, inclusive place-leadership teams.
Across the eight case studies, there is a lot
of good civic activity going on and positive
impacts being achieved. Each of them
demonstrates passion for the places in
which their footprint is most prominent
and for deploying their scale, assets and
capabilities to address key challenges their
places are facing. Each of them can also
contribute specific and adaptable good
practice for evolving civic agendas
for the 2020s and beyond.
However, arguably none of them exemplifies
a fully-formed, place-based ‘inclusive
future growth’ eco-system – either within
the university itself, or across city and
sub-regional geography – commensurate
with the depth and breadth of challenges
their places are facing. This was also a key
finding of the Civic University Commission.
Our review looked at what specific places
require from their university sector in
pursuit of inclusive future growth. The
analysis suggests the key ingredients of
an inclusive future growth ecosystem,
and how future place-based programmes
might enable and support this. These are
elaborated further in insight #3. But the
key prerequisite for realising this requires
‘flipping’ the question of ‘what can
universities do for their place’ to ‘what do
INSIGHT #1
13
places need from their universities’. Only by
doing this can the lessons from this analysis
be relevant, adaptable and scalable.
Recent exercises like the Civic University
Commission are helpful. It has stimulated
a renewed interest in local compacts or
‘Civic University Agreements’ between
anchor institutions. Our analysis, though,
suggests that any Civic University Agreement
whose starting point is the institutional
perspective of individual universities – as
opposed to the place as a multi-university
and/or multi-institution eco-system – is
inevitably going to be sub-optimal.
We wish to see more local leadership
teams – LEP, Mayoral Combined Authority,
City/County Growth Board, or even places
in London and the devolved nations,
leading and commissioning their own
Civic University Agreements (or whatever
they regard as the appropriate form for
university contributions to their places)
with the relevant consortium of HEIs and
partners. Are these teams up for that
challenge and will their local HEIs enable
and support it?
ACROSS THE EIGHT CASE STUDIES THERE
IS A LOT OF GOOD CIVIC ACTIVITY GOING
ON AND POSITIVE IMPACTS BEING
ACHIEVED. EACH OF THEM DEMONSTRATES
PASSION FOR THE PLACES IN WHICH THEIR
FOOTPRINT IS MOST PROMINENT AND
FOR DEPLOYING THEIR SCALE, ASSETS
AND CAPABILITIES TO ADDRESS KEY
CHALLENGES THEIR PLACES ARE FACING.
14
CONTEXT IS IMPORTANT ON
THREE LEVELS; THE NATURE
OF THE PLACE, THE FORMS
AND FUNCTIONS OF LOCAL
GOVERNANCE, AND THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE
LOCAL HIGHER EDUCATION
CONFIGURATION.
Eective strategies for inclusive future
growth will need to be adapted and shaped
according to the type of place for which
the strategy is being developed, and for the
number, size and character of universities
participating in their interventions. The
orthodoxy of the single university in the
metro is NOT the norm, as shown in the
analysis of higher education configurations
and local governance context illustrated in
figure 1.
In terms of the context of the places
reviewed in our study, Bristol is probably
the most economically successful city. It
has both a city council mayor and a metro-
mayoral combined authority. It has two
large full-service universities within the city
– both city centre and suburban – with two
further smaller HEIs within the wider area
in Bath. Self-evidently it will seek and need
a dierent relationship with its universities
to a smaller successful northern city like
York, with its positioning within the Leeds
city region. Likewise Birmingham, Leeds,
Newcastle, Plymouth and Lincoln all face
widely diering contexts in managing the
interfaces with their universities.
We identified six categories of higher
education configuration, from no ‘full
service’ (i.e. a student body in excess of
10,000 and research and teaching activities
covering a range of STEM and arts,
humanities and social science subjects)
HEI to multiple HEIs with a range of
characteristics and origins (small and
specialist, former polytechnic and research
intensive). Presence of a Russell Group
university was assessed as a separate
category given the global reach of these
institutions, the scale of external research
INSIGHT #2
15
No ‘full
service’ HEI
1 ‘full
service’ HEI
2-3 HEIs 2-3 HEIs inc.
Russell Group
4+ HEIs 4+HEIs inc.
Russell Group
HIGHER EDUCATION CONFIGURATION
(Mayoral) Combined
Authority aligned with LEP
(Mayoral) Combined Authority
non-aligned with LEP/contested
Unitary dominated LEP
County Council
dominated LEP
Hybrid / contested
No cases 1 2 3 4
Figure 1: Operating context of HE and local governance England funds they attract and their (perceived)
importance to their local business and
innovation eco-system by policy makers.
Looking at the 37 English LEP areas
(excluding London) we found five broad
categories of local governance within which
they operate, from relatively coherent
and aligned governance arrangements
to places where governance remains
unresolved or contested.
We found 17 distinct classifications of HE
and local governance operating contexts
across the 37 LEP areas. Only five of these
apply to more than two areas, and none
apply to more than four. Therefore strategy
frameworks and policy instruments that
rely on a uniform understanding of local
conditions are misguided and unlikely to
deliver the impacts they seek. Similarly
this analysis suggests that highlighting
and seeking to duplicate case studies of
‘success’ or ‘best practice’ from one place
to another is a fundamentally flawed, and
probably futile, exercise.
16
Within most places, a presumption of
eective, cohesive civic leadership can be
problematic and contested. As our review
found, the range of governance contexts at
subnational level aects the way universities
and their local leadership teams can and do
interact. The impacts of these for developing
strategies for inclusive future growth needs
to be understood by all local actors, including
universities themselves. For instance, a strong
Mayoral Combined Authority overseeing a
coherent functional city region will be able
to support a dierent type of agenda to a
much more contested geography with city-
county-district layers of local governance,
competing world views and, in some cases
deep-seated historic and animosities.
A similar point can be made about the
institutional density in the local ecosystem.
Where a place has a rich array of anchor
institutions (including business) the
demands placed on even ‘high performing’
(as defined by national and international
rankings and league table) universities will
be less intense than in places where the
university (irrespective of its performance) is
eectively the ‘only game in town’.
The review surfaced many of these
tensions, and it is not apposite to air
these in this publication. However, if our
recommendation for a ULP-style successor
programme is pursued, there must be a
challenge to both place leadership teams
and to their universities to consider and
explain how they will tackle issues of, and
operate in, a context of contested local
leadership and governance.
Our review demonstrates that nationally
prescriptive, place-blind strategies founded
on world views of clear civic leadership
working with a single large full-service
university anchor are inaccurate. Strategies
designed for those types of places are as
likely to exacerbate the problems they are
trying to address as solve them! As we stated
previously, our eight cases have well over
20 HEIs across their geographies. Involving
universities in future growth strategies must
be configured in a way that finds the win-
wins of civic-HEI collaboration rather than
be a zero-sum game where one or a few
highly selective universities are included to
the exclusion of others with something to
oer inclusive city/places growth.
OUR REVIEW DEMONSTRATES THAT
NATIONALLY PRESCRIPTIVE, PLACE-BLIND
STRATEGIES FOUNDED ON WORLD VIEWS OF
CLEAR CIVIC LEADERSHIP WORKING WITH A
SINGLE LARGE FULL-SERVICE UNIVERSITY
ANCHOR ARE INACCURATE. STRATEGIES
DESIGNED FOR THOSE TYPES OF PLACES
ARE AS LIKELY TO EXACERBATE THE
PROBLEMS THEY ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS
AS SOLVE THEM!
17
THERE IS A COHERENT MENU OF
INTERVENTION STRATEGIES THAT
UNIVERSITIES ARE PARTICULARLY
WELL-PLACED TO LEAD AND
MANAGE THAT CAN PROVIDE KEY
FOUNDATIONS FOR PURPOSEFUL,
INCLUSIVE FUTURE PLACES
GROWTH AND MANAGEMENT OF
TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE
Our review suggests that university involvement
in eective inclusive future growth requires
one important precondition, and six
underpinning design principles in order to
maximise the contribution of local universities.
Fundamentally, there must be a genuine
commitment on the part of each university
at an institutional level to dedicate capacity
and resources to planning for and managing
change locally. How they do this is also
important (see Insight #4).
The design principles for inclusive future
places growth are summarised in the Urban
Living Framework shown in figure 2. While
they do not necessarily need to be
followed sequentially, our review suggests
an understanding of how each step builds
on the previous, and reinforces the next,
set of activities can lead to improved
outcomes and impact.
INSIGHT #3
18
The Urban Living Framework shown in figure
2 outlines some potential contributions
universities can make against each of these
principles, and it provides examples of how
the universities that took part in the review
are delivering against these in their local
areas. (Note that this is just for illustrative
purposes and represents only a very small
part of the contribution and impact these
institutions have locally).
Ambitious places seeking transformational
change need a well-founded vision;
consistent use of evidence and analysis;
by an inclusive, diverse leadership team;
which can discuss and resolve ‘wicked
issues’ in a neutral space/setting; with
genuinely inclusive co-production techniques
deployed to design, test, and deliver major
interventions. Universities can potentially
enable and support all these key roles.
Figure 2: The Urban Living Framework
Rollover the diagram on the left to
view the potential contributions
and illustrative examples for each
underpinning design principle
19
DEDICATING CAPACITY
AND RESOURCES TO PLAN
FOR AND MANAGE CHANGE
Leading the
development of
a long term
vision for change
Oering neutral
spaces for collaboration
and decision making
Co-designing and
co-producing tools
and techniques
Facilitating
experimental, pilot
and demonstrator
projects
Building inclusive
and diverse local
leadership teams
Providing a granular
understanding of
evidence and data
THESE INTERVENTIONS WILL BE
SIGNIFICANTLY STRENGTHENED
IF LARGE, FULL-SERVICE,
RESEARCH-INTENSIVE ANCHORS
WELCOME AND ENCOURAGE
SMALLER DISRUPTIVE HEIS
AND/OR THEIR OWN ARMS-
LENGTH INITIATIVES TO ENGAGE
CONSISTENTLY IN LOCAL
LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
OF CHANGE.
This is perhaps the most challenging insight
for local leadership teams and their current
university members. One of the major
weaknesses of existing anchor institution
and civic university models is the assumption
that university-place collaboration is a
normative ‘good’.
Even where university-place collaboration
is deep and broad, with universities
branding themselves civic and integral
to local leadership, there is a risk this
increases perception of universities as part
of an incumbent local elite. Partnership
arrangements based on opaque deals for the
allocation of state resources and local assets
amongst themselves is conducive to neither
social innovation nor future places’ dynamism.
It also runs against the social value ethos that
underpins most universities’ establishment
and their core institutional purposes.
The review found that much of the challenge,
dynamism and innovation necessary to
adopt game-changing inclusive future
growth intervention strategies rests with
arms-length entities within larger HEIs
– of which Newcastle City Futures or
Birmingham’s City-REDI are examples. The
review also surfaced the potential of smaller
specialist HEIs – like PCA in Plymouth – to
oer valuable, even disruptive, challenge
and radical delivery of change. A third
potential ‘challenger’ model is for universities
to support community anchors - such as the
type of relationship Bristol University has
developed with Knowle West Media Centre.
Cities and sub-regions need to make the
most of large anchor institutions for obvious
reasons. But they should also understand,
welcome and involve what we term
‘loosener’ institutions - smaller, sometimes
disruptive, challengers to the anchor status
quo. These can be equally passionate about
and committed to place - but more agile and
flexible in experimenting and demonstrating
new approaches.
INSIGHT #4
20
Figure 3: The ‘Plymouth
Provocation’
We have termed this the ‘Plymouth
Provocation’ based on the initial 2017
Plymouth case study. This contrasted the
Plymouth College of Art ‘loosener’ roles n
the city with the more traditional anchor
roles of the much larger Plymouth University.
The hypothesis is that national policies
and local attention gravitates towards the
bottom left-hand quadrant of the matrix
- the important task of increasing anchor
institution collaboration and making it more
eective. In fact, one might characterise
the selection of five Russell Group HEIs as
leaders of the Urban Living Partnership
pilots as epitomising a ‘safe’ civic university
orthodoxy world view.
However, many places will require
transformation and disruptive change to
successfully navigate the coming period –
the local ‘shocks’ of Brexit will almost
certainly trigger this. They may need new
types of institutions in leadership and
delivery roles – i.e. the top-left quadrant of
the matrix.
It is likely that places will need their large
universities to take on new roles and
responsibilities locally. In terms of the Urban
Living Framework, perhaps the
HEI ACTS AS A ‘LOOSENER’
HEI ACTS AS AN ANCHOR
TRANSFORMATIONA
L
CHANGE
INCREMENT
AL
CHANGE
New forms of
radical, disruptive
city leadership
Radical reforms
to give large, long
established HEIs
increasing local
powers and
resources
Improved
collaborative
policy and
practice between
‘big players’
Increase in smaller
HEI participation
in existing
leadership tools
21
observatory, policy development, or co-
design and production roles outlined in
insight#3. But more generally, there are also
increasing pressures for universities to take
responsibility for the delivery of services
that have traditionally been managed by the
public sector, such as libraries, cultural and
sporting venues and even, in some cases,
public transport. This is depicted in the
bottom-right quadrant of figure 3.
In some places there may even be an
appetite to scale up some of the results
and forms of radical disruptive challenge in
decision and policy-making forums. There
were some examples of this in the cases
reviewed, although the participants did
not always – for obvious tactical reasons –
present them as such.
This review suggests that ambitious places
developing their inclusive future growth
strategies need to at least consider how
their place can leverage the talents, energy
and capabilities in all four quadrants of the
Plymouth Provocation matrix.
Universities are particularly well-placed to
facilitate and even support this, and indeed
we argue that it is in their long-term best
interest if they are to counter the ‘local
incumbent elite’ charge.
Large university anchors themselves will
not be able to ride out the current turmoil
without serious reflection on their local
purposes, priorities, and the business models
through which they deliver them. For the
university itself – as the ULPs, Keele, Lincoln,
and PCA demonstrate – there is the potential
to do work in and across all four quadrants
THIS REVIEW SUGGESTS THAT AMBITIOUS
PLACES DEVELOPING THEIR INCLUSIVE
FUTURE GROWTH STRATEGIES NEED TO
AT LEAST CONSIDER HOW THEIR PLACE
CAN LEVERAGE THE TALENTS, ENERGY AND
CAPABILITIES IN ALL FOUR QUADRANTS
OF THE PLYMOUTH PROVOCATION MATRIX.
22
THERE IS A STRONG CASE FOR
A NATIONAL PROGRAMME TO
DEEPEN AND DEVELOP THESE
FINDINGS ACROSS A WIDER
CROSS-SECTION OF PLACES.
The national and global drivers of university
institutional development are much more
significant than place-based drivers and are
likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Government can, however, incentivise better
university contributions to inclusive future
growth policy and practice in a wider set of
places by building any successor programmes
on the lessons and principles from this review.
We suggest there is a strong case for a
ULP-style second phase programme to
build continuity and momentum from
the pilots. However, to be eective any
follow-on programme should be viewed as
medium term (5-10 years) with significant
pump-priming (£5-£10m per pilot). It should
also explicitly seek synergies and alignment
with Local Industrial Strategies, Shared
Prosperity Fund proposals, and other place-
based programmes to ensure its impact has
more chance of scale-up, longevity and
ultimately mainstreaming.
In order to ensure that any new programme
maximises the contribution and value
of universities to place-based, inclusive
future growth we propose the following
underpinning principles:
1 Reduce academic silos by insisting on
trans-disciplinary and co-production
operating models, with shared
leadership and governance institutional
arrangements (outside individual university
schools and including all relevant HEIs
and other key anchors). Where possible
consider placing programme funding and
accountability in a shared leadership and
governance entity, rather than as part of
mainstream university research funding
structures and processes.
INSIGHT #5
The national and global
drivers of university
institutional development
are much more significant
than place-based drivers
and are likely to remain so
for the foreseeable future.
23
2 Where appropriate to the place, prioritise
partnerships which proactively include
cohorts of HEIs from diverse mission
groups who have complementary
specific niches and synergistic roles.
3 Link programmes explicitly into evolution
of place-based leadership architecture
and ongoing public service reform and
change programmes.
4 Require proposals to include (or justify
the exclusion of) the core elements of
the Urban Living Framework in figure 2.
5 Positively weight proposals that
prioritise left-behind communities’
involvement and reduce town-gown
divides – even in more successful cities
and sub-regions - and ensure a mix of
non-metropolitan sub-regions as well as
metropolitan cities.
6 Enable much stronger learning between
and across places by establishing a co-
ordinating central hub and networking
resource.
Whilst there may be some antipathy towards
the recommendation of yet another place-
based programme, the review findings reveal
that existing and impending interventions
will not be sucient to cover this terrain.
Moreover, the review tends to confirm the
depth and breadth of university roles –
including the extent to which they assume
leadership functions – increases with the
level of institutional thinness and socio-
economic underperformance of the place
in which they are located. The scale and
scope of university roles are likely to be
positively correlated with the level of
challenge and change in the place and the
extent to which its leadership is contested
and/or dysfunctional. The existing portfolio of
strategies and programmes will be significantly
strengthened by a ULP second phase in the
following ways:
It will provide a starting point of improving
place-based leadership and university
contributions to it. Typically, other
strategies focus on accelerating and
commercialising research and stimulating
innovation (e.g. Strength in Places,
mainstream UKRI programmes), industrial
growth (e.g. Industrial Strategy Challenge
Fund) or tackling underperformance (e.g.
Shared Prosperity Fund). This report
focuses on the glue and spaces between
that will make these larger interventions
work better.
It will ensure better-founded, shared place-
based visions and strategic prioritisation
processes which capitalise on relevant
academic rigour and excellence. These
tend not to be the purpose of time-limited
functional funding programmes mentioned
above, but would provide the coherent
underpinning for making the short-term
funding rounds more strategic
It will result in innovative ways of working
such as:
genuine commitment to and evidence
of co-design and co-production,
ensuring strategic interventions are
owned by beneficiaries and done
‘with’, not ‘to’ them.
open data and data analytic platforms
– not just for public policy making
24
but providing an important resource
for catalysing local business and
community dynamism
the creation of urban rooms and
neutral civic spaces – further
empowering those often excluded from
anchor institution ‘deal-making’ and
bureaucratic management
It will deliver a wide range of activity,
from experimental and pilot projects, to
public policy development and support,
to demonstrator and scale-up initiatives
designed around the needs of the place and
its people.
25
CONCLUSIONS
AND NEXT STEPS
This review outlines how places need
dierent and synergistic contributions
from each of the universities in their
geography. It provides a provocation
that questions how radical and
challenging a university is prepared
to be as a civic role player. It then
considers the case of five ULPs
in English Cities along with three
comparators in dierent place settings.
26
The review’s main lesson is that there is a
coherent, broadly-based set of interventions
that places need from their universities
if they are to progress inclusive future
growth eectively. This will not be delivered
by the current portfolio of strategies
and programmes being developed by
Government and partners for place-based
development in England. Nor is it likely, in
these turbulent and challenging times, for
there to be sucient resources available
locally to support it.
There are without doubt impending
challenges facing place-based leadership
teams, whom analysis shows have variable
cohesion and trust, and are operating in
places with wide disparities in performance
and potential. Universities contributions to
these processes are similarly inconsistent
and too often tend to be transactional,
instrumental and based on a list of
unconnected initiatives.
We wish to build on the learning from this
review by inviting:
LOCAL LEADERSHIP
TEAMS
to consider an Urban Living
Framework approach of
visioning and futures thinking, evidence and
data analytics, in neutral spaces and settings,
deploying innovative tools and techniques,
to elaborate a range of interventions from
experimental through to scale up.
UNIVERSITIES
to work collaboratively
and synergistically in their
geographies to champion
and enable this approach.
This involves both mainstreaming inclusive
future growth approaches within the anchor
institutions AND supporting the agile, arms-
length entities that can experiment and test
new approaches and potential solutions.
GOVERNMENT
to support at a minimum a
five-year funding programme
at some scale for a breadth
of metropolitan and
non-metropolitan demonstrators.
CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS
The findings of this review suggests this would add significant value to other place-based programmes, as well as having integrity in its own right as
a mechanism to drive strategic and meaningful engagement between universities and their places in a tenacious pursuit of inclusive future growth.
27
Design by Solution Group - www.solutiongroup.co.uk
References and further reading
References
The ‘Wilson’ Review of University-Business
Collaboration
Encouraging a British Invention Revolution:
Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities
and Growth
The final report of the Civic University
Commission
The final report of the Warwick Chancellor’s
Commission, 2016
Related studies and reports
UKRI review of the Urban Living
Partnership pilots
Newcastle’s System of Systems: The journey
towards smart and innovative urban living
Universities, Cities and Communities:
Co-Creating Urban Living Report
City Futures and the Civic University
Newcastle City Futures 2065
The New Civic University (University
of Lincoln)
Thinking Ahead - Exploring the challenges
and opportunities of the 21st Century
(University of Lincoln)
Academic articles
Facilitating spaces for place-based leader-
ship in centralised governance systems:
the case of Newcastle City Futures
Wishful thinking? Towards a more realistic role
for universities in regional innovation policy
Universities as anchor institutions in cities in
a turbulent funding environment: vulnerable
institutions and vulnerable places in England
From Geddes’ city museum to Farrell’s
urban room: past, present, and future at
the Newcastle City Futures exhibition
Let’s draw and talk about urban change:
Deploying digital technology to encourage
citizen participation in urban planning
Health, cities and planning: using
universities to achieve place innovation
28
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