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So why do we need to develop an agreement on the citizens` university? The Civic Higher Education Agreement is a statement of public intent with clear activities and criteria for success. As part of a dialogue with the university`s board of directors, the university decided, as part of the development of the local engagement strategy, to make a substantial change in the way we work by creating and signing a civic higher education contract. If we learn from the civic engagement already underway, we will work closely with our partners to understand how we can contribute to the ecological, social, cultural and economic well-being of our region. “Nearly half of higher education graduates study and work in the region where they grew up, and more than two-thirds of them take jobs in their home regions. The SFO funds universities and large schools to find ways to remove barriers to the employment of local graduates in low-productivity, low-growth places that need skills and talent to thrive. The university is often one of the largest and most dominant institutions in its place. This force, used correctly, can be used for a considerable good. But it is also worth thinking about the power dynamics of local partnerships and thinking about how to promote successful cooperation with organizations that do not have the resources or agency of a university (particularly relevant for partnerships with civil society, small businesses and grassroots organizations). It is important and difficult to build trust. Following the launch of Truly Civic: Strengthening the link between universities and their places of study (the final report of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission), there are now more than 40 vice-chancellors who have committed their universities to develop agreements on citizen universities – one of the most important recommendations of the report. Universities are entering a difficult outdoor environment. At present, we are not sure of the impact of the government`s revision on education and funding after 18 years and the potential impact that Brexit could have.

These factors, combined with rising costs such as pensions, suggest that resources are likely to be limited. This environment makes CUAs even more important because they are a tool to give strategic priority to your civic role. “Based on Chamberlain`s vision of a `great universal school of education` and as England`s first civic university, we have a long history of playing a strong role in our community, leading knowledge research, and investing in effective initiatives that benefit the region, such as the University of Birmingham School. Some of our most critical research is looking at ways to address the most pressing issues in the West Midlands, including the need to accelerate economic growth, poor air quality and youth mental health. As a sector, we need to do more to tell a compelling story about the value of higher education to all, not just those who go to university. That is why I am pleased to be able to commit to a civic university agreement in partnership with local government and other important partners. As signatories to this declaration, we call on our universities to develop agreements on civic university. The agreements will better balance our priorities with those of our local partners.

In addition to schools, high schools, local authorities, charities, the NHS, civil society and small and large businesses, we want to ensure that our place prospers in the decades to come. Long-term funding for our sector will inevitably have an impact on what we can do and the extent to which we can do it. That includes our civic role. In this constraint, however, this assertion is an obligation for us, as autonomous institutions, to continue to serve the educational, economic and social interests of our communities and our place.