A comprehensive audit of how a university is contributing to the levelling up agenda has revealed that Teesside University is helping individuals and communities discover the ‘art of the possible’.
The in-depth report by the prestigious public policy research agency Public First demonstrates that Teesside University is making a significant contribution to the local economy through its role as an anchor institution.
At an exclusive roundtable event hosted by the University, key decision makers from across the Tees Valley heard that this contribution was not just in the form of economic impact, but also by engendering a sense of civic pride and optimism about the region’s future.
In particular, Ed Dorrell, Director of Public First, noted how the University was helping skilled individuals remain within their communities – a testament to the mantra of ‘Stay Local Go Far’ which has now been adopted by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Michael Gove MP.
Through the focus groups he ran when compiling the report, Mr Dorrell recounted how non-graduates in the region, who might not typically be expected to retain much affection for a higher education institution, spoke with pride about Teesside University.
“The qualitative evidence about Teesside University being an anchor institution is there in spades,” he said.
“There are connections everywhere and people are proud of what you have achieved.
“One huge achievement is that you are a local university who are recruiting local students and sending these out into the local economy.
“You are helping people who might not have considered higher education discover the art of the possible.”
His comments were echoed by John Blake, the Director for Fair Access and Participation at university regulator the Office for Students.
He said: “Teesside University is doing an awful lot in the region. This report suggests it creates a sense of belonging which does not stop with the students.
“Universities are built and serviced by the communities in which they live and in Teesside’s case it is allowing people to remain rooted in the places that they want to be.”
Other universities looking to strengthen their civic role could learn from Teesside’s example.
Lord Kerslake, Chairman of the UK2070 Commission inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK, added: "Teesside University is already a strong civic player and key to the current and future success of the Tees Valley region.
“It is to its great credit that it is ambitious to go still further and commissioned Public First to produce this report.
“It highlights what is being done well but also points to where the university could do more.
“Other universities looking to strengthen their civic role could learn from Teesside’s example."
Teesside University Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Paul Croney OBE welcomed the findings of the report and said the University was committed to strengthening its role in the region even further.
Professor Croney said: “The levelling up agenda is integral to how Teesside University operates; it is central to our mission and we are very pleased that our commitment is acknowledged in Public First’s report.
“However, we want to further accelerate this work.
“Education is the key to social mobility, but universities like Teesside also do much more to deliver civic transformation. I am delighted to see this impact collated and celebrated and look forward to building on this to bring further benefit to our region.”
This was the first in a series of panel discussions to be scheduled with civic and business leaders from across the region exploring key issues within the levelling up context.
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) Professor Mark Simpson said: “We were delighted to hear from colleagues across the sector and to reaffirm our shared commitment to boosting educational outcomes across the region.
“We look forward to further collaboration as we work together to overcome challenges and identify opportunities to enable this region to reach its full potential.”
Teesside University is helping the region "achieve its potential"
A comprehensive audit of how a university is contributing to the levelling up agenda has revealed that Teesside University is helping individuals and communities discover the ‘art of the possible'.