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Behind the HE headlines is one key question – the purpose of universities

The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .

30 VCs sign new Civic University Agreement

Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.

UUK calls on government to invest in HE and research

Universities have set out the case for investment in higher education in the run up to the budget.

A report from Universities UK lists nine key reasons why the government should support the sector when it reveals its spending plans on July 8.

The report, Why Invest in Universities?, argues that as well as being a major contributor to the UK economy, generating £73 billion of output in 2011 alone, universities play a vital role in ensuring the UK remains competitive in a global market.

UK university research is academically world leading and more cost effective than anywhere else in the world, providing the ideas and inventions on which future prosperity will be founded, UUK says.

It also points to the transformative nature of going to university and the role institutions play in creating businesses and jobs, enriching society and stimulating culture.

“The UK has a university sector that many other countries aspire to emulate. Our academics are world leaders in research and innovation, our graduates are in demand worldwide, and our universities attract business and investment to all regions of the UK,” the report adds.

UUK also points out that the UK invests significantly less in research as a proportion of GDP than many other countries. The UK’s total research and development expenditure was 1.72 per cent of GDP in 2012 and has been around 1.8 per cent of GDP since the early 1990s. In comparison, in 2012 the EU-28 provisional estimate was 2.06 per cent of GDP and the OECD average was 2.4 per cent.

denphumi / 123RF
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