The role of university research in tackling regional economic inequality: Higher Education Commission Inquiry

Yesterday the Higher Education Commission held the fourth evidence session of its inquiry looking into the role of research and development in tackling regional economic inequality.

The session assessed how the UK can build the skills base it needs to undertake greater levels of research and development throughout the nation, and investigated what is required from a business perspective and how skills providers will need to adapt to match this demand.

Co-chair of the Commission Chris Skidmore MP gave opening remarks on the importance of enhancing skills productivity. Professor David Phoenix, Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, then spoke on their report with Aston University, which called for Government to invest in Universities of Technology to level up and strengthen the link between skills and research and development.

David Hughes, CEO of the Association of Colleges, described the important need for the Government to invest in long-standing and resilient pipelines for skills and employment, followed by Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, CEO of Stevenage Bioscience Catapult, who reiterated the importance of local facilitator organisations, such as universities, and levering fantastic local research bodies:

It's all about the skills supply chain, engaging academic start-ups, and mentoring and fostering the pipeline.”

Professor Robin Clark from WMG, an applied research and education department of Warwick University, spoke about their role in providing regionally-focussed, industrial application of research and fostering partnerships with industry to support innovation. Particularly for green skills growth, he suggested, regions are instrumental in shaping the skills agenda.

These remarks were followed by a discussion among all attendees. A full write-up of the event will be available on our website in due course, and you can stay up to date with the work of the Higher Education Commission online.