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May 28, 2013

Applicable to the real world: the future of research

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. WMG Robotics - students at the University of Warwick
An interview with Dr Richard Hutchins, Director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)


If the future of the higher education is virtual (as every blog and newspaper article about MOOCs would have you believe), does the success of WMG (using the Fraunhofer model) contradict this?

I’m not entirely convinced that going ‘totally virtual’ is the way forward, because there are huge advantages to companies, academics and students working side-by-side and sparking off each other. Secondly the fact that for this type of industrial research, where we work with companies in the manufacturing and advanced engineering sector, it inevitably requires people to have access to physical kit and technology. So I think there is a strong case to co-locate facilities that allow for all of those things to happen.

How would you asses the current state of the UK’s higher education sector’s relationships with business (and therefore economic growth) compared to the rest of the world?

I don’t think there is any doubt that the UK is right up there when it comes to higher education collaboration with industry. It’s the only way to go because we cannot rely on the government, public sector and the public purse to fund higher education research and teaching in the future in the way that it has done in the past. So we have to make our research and our teaching more applicable to the real world; the only way to do that is to connect it to the market place, which is working with industry and working with countries. All of the countries that are shooting up in terms of economic growth clearly connect universities with business or connect business with universities. China, most notably, where companies effectively sponsor universities and the development of universities. We see a number of collaborations of that type in Beijing.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit this week (w/c 27 May 2013), which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders related to higher education that would benefit the sector, what would that be?

We need to be promoting the freer exchange of students and knowledge across international boundaries. When it comes down to things like that, it means student visas; it means free exchange of intellectual property. Not all easy things to do but things which will undoubtedly help to unlock economic growth in all nations.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: WMG Robot Team, April 2013. Source: (University of Warwick)

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Image. Dr Richard Hutchins WMGDr Richard Hutchins is responsible for leading WMG's interface and work with Jaguar Land Rover, including support for JLR's Government Affairs and Government Programmes teams. Leading the development of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers. Leading our work with Local Enterprise Partnerships. He is a non-executive director of WMMC (Manufacturing Advisory Service).



May 23, 2013

Inherently Global: Higher Education and Economic Impact

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Stars and planes across the Toronto skyline


A blog post by Dr Joanna Newman, Director, UK Higher Education International Unit

A world-class higher education system is essential for growth and competitiveness in a global knowledge economy. An excellent modern higher education system demands internationalisation in staff, students, partners and outlook. Many UK universities are already leading global enterprises in their own right. With fierce and growing global competition in higher education, and no fat to cut in the highly productive UK system, the need to collaborate with international partners is greater than ever.

As institutions rooted in their communities, they draw visitors, businesses and investment to their cities and regions and act as anchors for skills and enterprise. A high-tech cluster is a rare phenomenon, but every ten international university students in the UK support six local jobs.

Higher education alone is one of the UK’s largest export earners, at over £8 billion a year, and has the potential to more than double in value by 2025. Research and innovation, the key drivers of long term productivity, are already inherently global. Universities are central to attracting and retaining globally mobile investment (and 23 per cent of UK R&D is from abroad, more than any large economy). Just as importantly, they attract and network global talent. Students considering their prospects in an increasingly globalised labour market are realising that future employers will expect the cultural agility to communicate and work with members of a cosmopolitan team, so offering outbound international experience will be important to attracting domestic students and creating global employable graduates.

The UK higher education sector’s leading position, second in the world as a study destination and for research quality, is an asset for one country that brings economic benefits around the world; improving employment rates and wages for returning graduates, assisting international development and building the capacity of emerging powers. Sharing a home with international universities gives business access to talent and new knowledge, the capacity to absorb innovation from elsewhere and the contacts to trade. The government scholarship schemes launched by fast-growing nations show that higher education mobility is an investment priority of the innovation economies of the future.

Universities’ links with other academics, industry or policy makers are often the leading edge of wider international collaboration. Indeed, the World Wide Web itself had its origins in improving international research collaboration. Links between universities and business are vital, growing and global, but the largest and most transformative economic impacts from higher education come precisely because the core mission of universities is to create and impart knowledge. This essential mission creates relationships of trust that can endure short-term market fluctuations, and innovate far ahead of a market application.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Stars and Planes. Source: (Flickr).

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Image. Dr Joanna NewmanDr Joanna Newman represents the International Unit on the International Education Advisory Forum, is a board member of the School of Advanced Studies and regularly represents the sector on national and international platforms. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


May 21, 2013

The Relationship Between Universities and Economic Growth

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus


Image. Library. Magdalen College Oxford University

A blog post by Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of Universities

All the evidence shows our leading research-intensive universities are the engine room of long-term, sustainable growth and prosperity.

Russell Group universities are major contributors to the economy in their own right, supporting more than 270,000 jobs and generating an economic output in excess of £30 billion a year.

This benefit is spread right across the UK and, in many of our major cities up and down the country; universities are key contributors to the regional economy.

For example, the University of Birmingham generated £1.1 billion of spending in the region in the 2011/12 academic year. The value-added contribution to the West Midlands economy was almost double that of the region’s eight largest football clubs.

Russell Group universities contribute out of all proportion to their size - just 24 universities account for more than 60 per cent of the spin-out companies which survive for three years or more.

Higher education overall is one of this country’s most successful export industries and is estimated to contribute more than £8.2 billion a year in overseas earnings - on a par with earnings from the export of electrical equipment or manufactured food products. In Sheffield alone, international students pump £120 million into the local economy every year.

And the contribution from our universities is growing apace. The economic impact has increased from £28 billion to £30 billion in just one year. That’s 7 per cent growth at a time when growth across the whole economy was flat.

Our universities are far removed from the image of remote ivory towers. A recent report by the World Economic Forum ranked the UK among the best countries in the world for business-university collaboration.

The skills and expertise developed by one student at the University of Warwick Business School helped to rejuvenate the management techniques and company culture within a local manufacturing SME.

Discoveries like graphene and spin-outs like the University of Oxford’s Natural Games Motion, now widely used in the film and games industries, which will lead to real growth.

Universities also increase productivity by helping to make existing businesses more efficient. A collaboration between Rolls-Royce plc and researchers at the University of Birmingham resulted in a breakthrough technology which is saving the company millions of pounds every year.

In highly developed economies such as the UK, growth increasingly needs to come from investments in research, innovation and human capital - all areas in which the role of universities is critical.

But successful commercialisation requires sustained and patient investment in research, often over many years or even decades. 125 case studies across the Russell Group showed the timescale from research to first realising a commercial return averages more than 17 years.

The Chancellor rightly recognised the importance of research last year when he explained his approach to scientific investment to the Royal Society and said: “Let us identify what Britain is best at – and back it.”

That’s why we believe the science and research resource budget must continue to be ring-fenced in the forthcoming spending review if the UK is to lift itself out of the economic doldrums and set a course for long-term success.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Magdalen College, Oxford. Source (Flickr).

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Image. Dr Wendy Piatt, Russell GroupDr Wendy Piatt is the first Director General and Chief Executive of the Russell Group, which represents 24 major research-intensive universities in the UK. She was appointed to set up an organisation providing strategic direction and policy development underpinned by research and communications. She was previously deputy director and head of public service reform at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit where she also led work on social mobility, local government, education and skills and digital inclusion. Prior to that, she was head of education policy at the Institute for Public Policy Research, specialising in higher and further education.


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