N8 Academic Discusses Universities’ Role In Economic Growth

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Professor Luke Georghiou, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, The University of Manchester and member of the N8 Executive Management Group, was on the panel of experts taking part in a live web-chat last week about the role that universities play in driving the UK’s economic growth.

The webchat was hosted by The Guardian’s Higher Education Network and also involved representatives from Universities UK, University Alliance, QAA, and the 1994 Group, as well as the NUS, Sheffield Hallam University and Bath Spa University.

The discussion covered a wide range of issues relevant to the impact of universities on the economy. There was widespread agreement that better links with industry are key to maximising the impact of the UK HE sector on the local and national economy.

One of the key themes that emerged was around the different ways universities are strengthening ties between HE and industry –such working with employers to develop courses tailored to the needs of students and local businesses and also a growing focus by HE institutions on enterprise and entrepreneurship education to encourage economic development and business growth through innovative student start-up companies.

Contributors also touched upon the international landscape and the economic impact from UK higher education being exported across the globe, and the role UK HEIs play in developing opportunities for student mobility and international research.

There was also discussion about how collaboration between institutions and with industry can result in efficiencies and cost sharing – as well as shaping the research agenda  and also how closer ties between academia and industry are helping to widen the impact of research – not just through collaboration but also through graduates transferring and exchanging knowledge when they enter work.

Prof Georghiou said:

“Most agreed on the importance of partnerships with business, and N8’s distinctive offering here came through clearly. All participants supported the idea that universities can offer most when we bring knowledge developed through freedom and creativity in research. There was also widespread agreement on the importance of alumni both as carriers of knowledge into their future employment and as future contacts and partners in this country and around the world.”

To see the full transcript, click here.