City of Bristol College, The University of Bristol, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Bristol City Council, and the City Office have strengthened their relationship by signing a Civic University Agreement (CUA).
The partnership reflects the many positive benefits to the city that the institutions collectively bring, including new jobs, apprenticeships, research collaborations and educational opportunities and outlines the intention to do even more in collaboration across several key areas.
At the heart of the CUA is a desire to ensure that the local population benefits from the thriving Further and Higher education sectors in Bristol. It provides a strong foundation for each organisation to work more closely together, using their combined resources and networks, and building on many existing projects and the One City Approach, to make Bristol fairer, healthier, and more sustainable. All signatories will continue to engage with a wide range of partners and communities across the city as they implement this vision in the months and years ahead.
Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol said: “Universities have great potential to enhance economic growth and levels of social mobility within their local places via their education and research activities. They play a major role in helping to meet the projected skills needs of their local economy, equipping people from all backgrounds in the city with the skills they need for work and life. We welcome the signing of the Civic University Agreement and look forward to working more closely with our partners in the city.
“The new campus at Temple Quarter will be key to us achieving our civic aims and aspirations, where we have already seen a number of apprenticeship opportunities for local people. This will also be a place to exchange ideas and meet the needs of Bristol’s diverse communities, building on the excellent work already being undertaken at our Barton Hill Micro Campus.”
Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor, President, and Chief Executive Officer at UWE Bristol, added: “At UWE Bristol we have collaboration in our DNA, which is why we are very proud to be signing this Civic University Agreement today. Together we all have the same aim, which is to see Bristol thrive and grow for the benefit of everyone who lives, studies, and works here – including the diverse community of students who call this city home.
“That means that as well as celebrating all the incredible things Bristol has to offer, we will work with our city partners to address inequalities and listen to communities across the city, so we can use our resources to bring about positive social change.”
Julia Gray, Principal and Chief Executive Officer at the City of Bristol College, said: “Further Education Colleges transform lives supporting students of all ages and backgrounds to upskill and reskill via a wide range of pathways including classroom and vocational courses at all levels. We know that, by supporting lifelong learning, we boost the local and regional economy and make a positive contribution to civic life.
“The signing of the Civic University Agreement is a visible representation of the good work that has happened already and, as Bristol’s College, we look forward to continuing to work with our valued partners to address education challenges in Bristol including work with underrepresented groups in Apprenticeships and ongoing work to address inequalities in Higher Education participation in the South of the City.”
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, added: “I welcome today’s Civic University Agreement, another sign of our continued partnership with both universities and City of Bristol College. They are major employers and contributors to life in our city, equipping generations with academic and vocational expertise: from professors to plumbers.
“These educational institutions are often at the heart of the story that gets told to the world about Bristol, of prosperity, and some of the UK’s highest concentrations of post-graduate degree holders. That’s true in Bristol alongside real poverty, and some of the lowest rates of Higher Education attainment in the country, including in our inner city and our outer estates.
“As we continue to work together as One City, with shared values and priorities, universities in Bristol are becoming universities for Bristol. That is crucial for bridging historic divides and building a future where nobody is left behind and success is shared across our whole city.”
The CUA takes as its background the fact that Bristol is a vibrant, fast-growing city with opportunities for many. The employment rate is the highest of the UK’s core cities and it is internationally leading in several rapidly growing and innovative sectors. However, these strengths live alongside entrenched inequalities including stark differences in educational opportunities for Bristol’s young people depending on where they live with progression rates to higher education ranging from less than 10% in some areas, to 100% in others.
This partnership working between signatories can be seen in the recently launched Social Mobility Partnership (SMIP). The partnership, developed by the two universities, brings together the CUA signatories along with community partners, policy makers, city leaders, local industry, and researchers to analyse barriers to social mobility and establish which can most effectively be tackled in a local context, co-create interventions, and evaluate the impact of these solutions. This initiative demonstrates the importance of collaborative civic work by the partner organisations to help tackle entrenched inequalities across Bristol.
Collaborative initiatives included under the CUA where these principles are already or will continue to have a positive impact on the city include:
- Forming a joint vision and commitment to develop the University of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus (TQEC), which, via a wide and diverse range of collaborative initiatives ensures benefits for local communities and the wider city.
- Collaborating on the University of the West of England led Future Quest. A participatory model that fosters long-term relationships with individuals aged four to 18 where young people are guided to imagine and progress towards their desired future.
- Developing the strategic Bristol Health Partners collaboration that supports all those in the city and region to live longer and lead healthier lives, improving how services are delivered.
- Facilitating the Bristol Race Equality Strategic Leaders Group; the group considers issues raised in the Bristol Manifesto for Race Equality and has undertaken work looking at the diversity of employees in the public sector and the ethnicity pay gap. Opening up the City of Bristol College estate and infrastructure to the wider communities, with a particular focus on South Bristol. Working with partners to provide additional support to those who have barriers accessing, or progressing through, education.
- Developing and being core partners of Bristol Future Talent Partnership, whose mission is to end the longstanding multiple inequalities and underrepresentation faced by people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds in the city, particularly in education and employment.
- Collaborating on a raft of initiatives to address participation inequalities in Further and Higher education and learn from each other around supporting students from various and diverse backgrounds to transition into, through and beyond education.