Photo by Paul Rigel

Twelve higher education institutions in Yorkshire today issued a powerful open letter to the region’s mayoral election candidates outlining five ‘key asks’ to ensure the county is a place to “invest, live, work and learn”.

Ahead of mayoral elections on 2 May 2024, in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, and, for the first time, York and North Yorkshire, candidates are urged to work with the universities as part of a collective commitment “to widen and deepen the contribution of higher education the region’s growth, well-being and prosperity”.

Those who are successful at the ballot box are urged to adopt the five key asks ranging from creating “a new culture of business, enterprise and entrepreneurialism” to improving students’ experiences of the region.

The letter has been penned by Chair of Yorkshire Universities (YU), Professor Karen Bryan, OBE, on behalf of YU members Leeds Arts University; Leeds Conservatoire; Leeds Beckett University; Leeds Trinity University; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Bradford; University of Huddersfield; University of Hull; University of Leeds; University of Sheffield; University of York; and York St John University – who collectively have 220,000 students enrolled, with 75,000 graduating each year.

Advertisement

In the letter, Professor Bryan states that YU is a firm supporter of devolution and that it will “work strategically in partnership with local government, including Mayors and Combined Authorities, within and across the region.”

She adds: “In Yorkshire, we have one of the largest and most diverse regional HE eco-systems outside London. The sector contributes £8 billion per annum in output to Yorkshire’s economy, and it sustains 63,700 people in employment.

“In this open letter, on behalf of the Yorkshire Universities Board of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, we outline Five Key ‘Asks’ of candidates standing in this year’s three Mayoral elections in Yorkshire. We would encourage you to support these, and to feature them in your programmes should you be elected.”

The Five Headline Asks are:

  1. Champion Yorkshire as the region to invest, to live, to work, and to learn – including bringing Yorkshire’s HE sector directly into the heart of strategies; using “our world-class cultural assets and creative industries” to promote Yorkshire and attract more jobs; and joining YU’s campaign to make Yorkshire the preferred destination for UK and international students to study, predicated on national policy that encourages international students to study in the region.
  2. Lead the efforts to create more sustainable and inclusive growth, attracting more well-paid and secure jobs into the region, including increasing and sustaining investment into the region’s physical and social infrastructure, especially health, and including better transport connections.
  3. Support the contribution of Yorkshire’s universities to the regional skills, education, and training landscape – including the value of graduate talent, a focal point of YU’s ongoing work, and using devolved and national funding and stronger collaboration between Higher Education (HE) and further education to tackle skills gaps.
  4. Create a new culture of business, enterprise and entrepreneurialism – this would involve building on the Investment Zones and Freeports programmes, to expand clusters, and using funding to drive a step-change in entrepreneurial innovation, including support for groups and individuals currently under-represented in enterprise.
  5. Improve students’ experiences of living and studying in Yorkshire – this would include supporting the case for a fair and sustainable funding system for HE, and helping to improve students access to affordable, good quality housing and transport services.

Yorkshire Universities

Yorkshire Universities (YU) is a partnership of 12 higher education institutions in Yorkshire and the Humber. YU’s mission is to maximise the contribution of higher education to the region, through collaboration, where this generates greatest impact and public benefit, and aspiration and opportunity are supported. YU is a unique partnership based on a shared commitment to improve the economic and social prosperity and wellbeing of people and places in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Advertisement