The Higher Education Commission seeks views on R&D and “levelling up”

Independent advisory group The Higher Education Commission issues public call for evidence for new inquiry into HE and regional economic prosperity

Independent advisory body The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is asking universities, higher education mission groups and skills providers to share their views on research and development (R&D) and the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

Its latest inquiry, entitled ‘Research funding – driving regional economic prosperity’, will look at universities’ “pivotal” role in the government’s ambitions to ‘level-up’ regional economies and reach 2.4% spending on R&D. HEC points to the fact that higher education institutions (HEIs) have consistently driven innovation in the UK, including major breakthroughs, such as Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Co-chaired by Chris Skidmore MP and Lord Norton of Louth (pictured) – and sponsored by Jisc, University Partnerships Programme (UPP), ACCA Global and the University of Salford – the inquiry will examine how HEIs, businesses and local authorities can best work together to boost economic prosperity throughout the UK.

The UK, it says, “will need to overcome the challenges of regional inequality, slow commercialisation and the ‘valley of death’ in collaboration between academia and industry”.

It says: “We would like to invite submissions from universities, higher education mission groups, skills providers, local authorities, R&D intensive businesses and manufacturers, SMEs, LEPs, chambers of commerce, trade associations, trade unions and any others who believe their experiences or perspective to be relevant.

“The submissions you provide will be used to inform the recommendations we make to government, local authorities, higher education institutions and businesses.”

Evidence should be submitted to by Friday 18 June 2021.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is an independent body made up of leaders from the education sector, the business community and the major political parties. It is co-chaired by peers Lord Norton of Louth (Conservative) and Lord David Blunkett (Labour), alongside University of Derby vice-chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell and Chris Skidmore MP (Conservative). It is part of cross-party think tank Policy Connect.

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Photo: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament

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