- 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
- Civic university agreements aim to ensure that universities provide investment and opportunities that do public good and meet local needs
- Aston University’s agreement sets out commitment to wide-ranging collaborations on and beyond the campus.
Aston University and the University of Birmingham 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.
The concept of a civic university agreement was created after a thorough analysis by the Civic University Commission on the various civic projects universities around the country were delivering.
What they found was that although many universities were delivering projects of undoubtable civic benefit, it was much rarer to see evidence of civic strategy – backed by rigorous analysis of local needs and opportunities, ambitious objectives and a clearly articulated plan that made place based civic engagement a core part of the university’s mission.
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.”
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.
Aston University’s agreement outlines their commitment to working in partnership on issues that matter to citizens and the city, focusing 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.”
In addition to the formal agreements, Newman University, University College Birmingham and Birmingham City University have also worked closely with the Council to develop papers which set out their approach to local engagement.
- Notes to editors
Civic University Agreements
The concept of a Civic University Agreement was created after a thorough analysis by the Civic University Commission on the various civic projects Universities around the country were delivering. What they found was that although many Universities were delivering projects of undoubtable civic benefit, it was much rarer to see evidence of civic strategy – backed by rigorous analysis of local needs and opportunities, ambitious objectives and a clearly articulated plan that made place based civic engagement a core part of the university’s mission.
Based on the above findings, the creation of a Civic University Agreement was the principle recommendation of the Civic University Commission. Since then, over 50 of Britain’s leading Universities have committed to producing a Civic University Agreement in partnership with local government and other major institutions in their area.
The Civic University Network recommends four guiding principles that should underpin a civic agreement. These are:
- Place - As a place-based institution the universities are committed to attaching a high-priority to the economic, social, environmental, and cultural life of our local communities;
- Public - Their civic role will be informed by an evidence-based analysis of the needs of Birmingham, developed collaboratively with local partners and informed by the voice of our local community (public);
- Partnerships - They will collaborate with other universities and anchor institutions and form partnerships to overcome the challenges facing our local communities;
- Measurement and Impact - With their partners, they will be clear about what they do and how they measure it, so they can say with confidence what they have achieved – and how the University might do better in the future.