Civic University Agreements strengthen role in local community

Birmingham City Council has worked in partnership with the city’s universities to develop a joint approach to enhancing their role in the local community.

The University of Birmingham and Aston University have become signatories of their respective civic university agreements with Birmingham City Council.

The agreements will see the universities work jointly with the Council and other local stakeholders to develop and enhance their civic role in Birmingham, their wide-ranging collaborations and their contributions to the city and wider region.

Civic University Agreements are aimed at ensuring universities can build mutually-beneficial relationships in their localities, providing investment and opportunities that do public good and meet local needs.

In addition to the formal agreements, Birmingham City University, Newman University and University College Birmingham have also worked closely with the Council to develop papers which set out their approach to local engagement.

Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Brigid Jones said: “The higher education sector will play an essential role in helping the city recover post-Covid. This commitment from our universities to work collaboratively with their local partners and community is timely and welcome.

“As a Council, it’s hugely important that we continue to strengthen our relationship with our higher education institutions across Birmingham, aligning our strategies and working together towards a shared vision for the future of the city.

“This is a key step towards more collaborative working with universities to tackle shared issues, from student housing to research that contributes to improving our city.”

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University, said: “We have a long-established presence as a place of learning and innovation in Birmingham – we can trace our roots back over 175 years – and are part of the fabric of the city.

“We’re already a civic university by our very nature and mission as a university which truly serves our city, and we have always taken our civic responsibilities seriously. We’re proud of the contribution we make to Birmingham’s social, economic and cultural wellbeing, be that powering our public sector through training teachers, nurses and other healthcare professionals, carrying out impactful research, or building links with and supporting the work of businesses, government, charities and others in the local community.

“We’re very much of the city and for the city, so are fully committed to continuing this work for Birmingham’s benefit. I’m pleased that the city’s other great universities are joining us in this endeavour, and we are looking forward to also signing our formal agreement. ” Professor Julian Beer

Both the University of Birmingham and Aston University are members of the Civic University Network – a new hub to support universities across the UK committed to developing a Civic University Agreement.

Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham said: “From the radical vision of our first Chancellor, Joseph Chamberlain, the University of Birmingham was founded in 1900 as the first civic university.

“As a supporter of the Civic University Commission and a founding partner of the Civic University Network we are committed to working collaboratively with local partners and will continue to work together in the city and region on a whole range of projects including being an official partner of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the response to the pandemic.

“We are delighted to be able to lead the way in developing and signing our civic university agreement with the Council.”

Aston University’s agreement outlines their commitment to working in partnership on issues that matter to citizens and the city, focussing on themes of: health and wellbeing; inclusion and reducing inequality; support for business; sustainability and environment; crime and justice and education and employment.

Professor Alec Cameron, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University said: “Aston University is led by its beneficiaries. This agreement sets out our commitment to wide-ranging collaborations on and beyond our campus that allow the open exchange of knowledge and insight with citizens.

“It is imperative that we are able to continue to work closely with our host city and support the recovery from COVID-19.”

Jackie Dunne, Vice-Chancellor at Newman University said: “Newman University is delighted to be able to formalise the relationship with Birmingham City Council and partner universities from the region.

“The University’s foundations are built on a mission of service and being a part of this engagement work furthers the positive impact that our staff and students can make, both in the West Midlands and beyond.”

Professor Michael Harkin, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at University College Birmingham, said: “University College Birmingham has established itself as a socially responsible civic partner with the city, so we’re delighted to be working in partnership with Birmingham City Council on this.

“We are engaged in a range of new and ongoing projects in support of the city of Birmingham, focusing on key areas such as tourism, healthcare, hospitality and supporting entrepreneurship. We are also committed to enhancing employability, driving sustainability, supporting on nutrition and wellbeing, contributing to local school trusts and improving progression into higher education.

“We are confident these projects will make a lasting and worthwhile contribution to the Council’s strategic plan and provide a significant boost to the region’s recovery from the Covid pandemic.”