It has been announced that UEA is to join the new Civic Universities Network, along with around 60 other universities in the UK.
Civic Universities are in place to help connect each institution to its local city area by figuring out how they can help influence their local community. By being a part of this network, UEA will be able to help develop mutually beneficial partnerships between the university and regional organisations. This work is led by Professor Fiona Lettice, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation, who stated ‘We will continue to work closely and collaboratively with existing partners and stakeholders and to build new relationships as we test and implement solutions to a range of health, environmental, social, and economic challenges for the businesses, organisations, people and communities in our region and beyond’. This network will then enable the university to organise student placements with external partners.
The Civic University Commission report expresses that universities have the capability and responsibility to support their local region and help solve issues such as improving education for school pupils and helping local businesses adapt to technological change. Richard Brabner, director of the UPP Foundation, said “Universities have the ability to make a real difference to the places they are located in through reinvigorating their civic role”. UEA has a long history of civic engagement across East Anglia, and they want joining this network to reflect how important that is to them.
The initial aim of the Civic University Network will be to encourage a response following the pandemic. Professor David Richardson, UEA Vice-Chancellor commented “we aim to play a key role in the economic, social and cultural recovery of our region”. Whilst Covid-19 still remains the immediate priority, UEA’s vast history of civic roles includes working with the region’s private, public and voluntary sectors. There are numerous examples of the social and cultural impacts that UEA have had in its regional community, for example, raising the aspirations of school children in the deprived parts of the area.
Richard Calvert, Network Strategic lead, said “I am very pleased that the University of East Anglia, who already play a key role in their region, are signing up to develop a Civic University Agreement. We look forward to working with them as part of the Civic University Network, and to helping ensure that we all support our communities in the best possible way over the months and years ahead”.