Yorkshire Universities’ Five Key Asks ahead of the Mayoral Elections in Yorkshire

By Gemma Cross; Yorkshire Universities


Twelve universities and higher education institutions in Yorkshire, including Leeds Conservatoire, have 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."

The letter, which can be read in full here, 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. 

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 YU 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.   

Download the open letter in full via the Yorkshire Universities website 

By Gemma Cross; Yorkshire Universities

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