Research Report: Staying local to go far: modern universities as placemakers

23 May 2022

This report explores both the economic and social impact of modern universities in regions across the UK. This has involved several strands of research to create an evidence base, including:

  • A quantitative analysis of the whole student lifecycle from Jisc which examines student and graduate mobilities across different regions;
  • a commissioned piece of analysis, from London Economics, on the regional economic contribution of institutional expenditure associated with modern universities to the local and wider economies;
  • the collection of multiple qualitative impact case studies from MillionPlus member institutions;
  • interviews with local stakeholders who work in partnership with a modern university.

The research presented throughout this report highlights that modern universities are intimately connected to place. These institutions provide vital pathways into higher education, spreading access and opportunity, while also supporting graduates to transition effectively into the local job market. They act as key anchor institutions, generating economic value as employers, procurers and providers of services in the local economy, with ripple effects across the region. They work collaboratively with a wide range of local stakeholders to drive regional development and to help weave the social fabric of the cities and towns in which they are located.

Taken together, all of these activities illustrate the role of modern universities as placemakers. The geographical spread of modern universities means that they have great potential as vehicles for levelling up, due to their ability to reach into some of the most disadvantaged communities within every region of the UK. It would be a tragic waste if this potential was not recognised, invested in, and expanded upon, and the benefits fully realised through the levelling-up agenda.

This report offers evidence of the impact that can be created through such institutions, proving that across the UK you can indeed stay local to go far.

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