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University signs up to national commitment to support local communities

Published: 26 November 2020
University of Southampton sign

The University of Southampton has confirmed its commitment to help and support communities in Southampton and the surrounding region by signing a national agreement –pledging to form closer links with local people and organisations.

As a signatory, the University will now work to produce a Civic University Agreement in partnership with local authorities, communities and partner higher education institutions.

Southampton, a top 20 UK institution, ranked 90th in the world*, joins over 60 other UK universities which are committed to producing similar agreements as part of a national initiative in response to a key recommendation by the Civic University Commission – an independent inquiry set up by the University Partnerships Programme Foundation to explore how universities can successfully serve their local areas.

Through developing its own Civic University Agreement, the University will encourage collaborative action to combat and overcome the challenges facing local communities across Southampton, Eastleigh, Test Valley and Winchester.

Professor Mark E. Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, said: “The University supports a huge range of activities in Southampton and Winchester, from our substantial contribution to the arts and culture in the region, to outreach by our academics and support for local groups.  We are pleased to be exploring how we can work jointly with Solent University and University of Winchester, to even better understand our local area and what it wants from its universities to strengthen our civic role still further. Southampton’s research, education, alumni and outlook are global, but we are rooted in our community.”
 
The University of Southampton will review its connections to the local area, analyse where it is already working effectively to address needs, and identify how it can further support and contribute to collaborative solutions, as a positive force for change.

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, commented: "Whether it’s the economy, environment, culture, health, or of course education, universities have an indispensable role in helping their local communities thrive. This role is to the benefit of local communities, but also to universities, as their own success is bound up with the success of the places that gave birth to them.

"We are therefore delighted the University of Southampton has pledged to prioritise its civic mission – putting the needs of its local community at the heart of its future. At a time when the region will be recovering from the pandemic, Southampton’s civic impact has never been more important."

The University's civic and community-engaged work already reaches into wide-ranging areas of society, such as; health and wellbeing, arts and culture, education, learning, enterprise, the environment and sustainability, volunteering and outreach and public engagement.  Key civic initiatives the agreement will concentrate on, include:

  • The  Arts at the University of Southampton, supporting the creative and cultural life of communities through the Southampton 2025 UK City of Culture Bid, Southampton Cultural Education Partnership and Connecting Culture research programme for children and young people;

  • Responding to the challenges of Covid-19, in both public health and economic recovery: from creating innovative support technology, to local trialling of Covid-19 saliva testing with communities/ schools and supporting the development of potential vaccines, as part of the global effort;

  • Developing new ways of responding to environment and sustainability issues aligned to the Southampton Green City Charter, in order to meet zero net carbon initiatives.

 
*According to QS World University Rankings 2021

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