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The University of Exeter is committed to accelerating knowledge-intensive employment within the regional economy, generating skills in strategically important areas, and supporting graduate retention.  

Universities in South West vow to help region bounce back stronger from Covid-19

Universities, employers, and local leaders will be working together to create thousands of local jobs as the recovery from the pandemic gathers pace.  

New research published today by Universities UK (UUK), ‘Universities and the UK’s economic recovery: an analysis of future impact’, which was compiled by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE), predicts that over the next five years universities in the South West region will:  

  • Be involved in research projects with partners worth almost £1.5 billion.  
  • Be part of regeneration projects worth £150 million to the local economy.  
  • Help 1,800 new businesses and charities to be formed.  
  • Train 11,000 nurses, 3,000 medics, 13,000 teachers.  

The research is published as UUK launches #GettingResults - a campaign to put universities at the heart of the economic and social recovery - with a renewed commitment from universities to do even more to reach out to new partners locally and nationally and deliver even greater impact than currently estimated.  

Throughout the pandemic, businesses, and a wide range of sectors not just within the South West region, but across the UK, have suffered greatly, leading to economic and social damage.   

The contributions made by universities and their students through knowledge and skills exchange, partnerships and support for local employers have huge potential to help businesses, industries, and other partners to continue, recover and thrive following the pandemic.   

The University of Exeter is committed to accelerating knowledge-intensive employment within the regional economy, generating skills in strategically important areas, and supporting graduate retention.  This commitment is highlighted through key initiatives such as the new South West Institute of Technology, the continued success of SetSquared Exeter, the growth of Exeter’s Science Park, the £8.1 million collaborative Impact Lab, which provides expertise and data to help businesses to develop innovative new products and services, and the Centre for Social Mobility.  

The University’s success to providing key benefits to business, society and the economy was recognised earlier this year in the Knowledge Transfer Network, which ranked Exeter in the top 20 per cent of its benchmarked group (large, high-research intensive and broad-discipline universities) in three different categories – research partnerships, local growth and regeneration, and public and community engagement. – and in the top 40 per cent for both research collaborations with business, and for commercial activity.    

The skills of the University of Exeter graduates will also have an important role to play in the future success of businesses and sectors during the Covid-19 recovery process.  

This includes the highly successful Student Start-Up scheme, which encourage the entrepreneurial ambitions of the University of Exeter’s community, enabling the creation of new, impactful ventures, and the successful Degree Apprenticeship programmes, including the Level 6 Diagnostic Radiographer Degree Apprenticeship is a good success story, which attracted 90 apprentices from 42 NHS employing bodies nationwide.  

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter said: “Universities across the South West region are very much open for business and want to develop even closer links with industry and charities.  Our students, staff, researchers, and graduates have so much to offer.  

"The University of Exeter is at the heart of a thriving research, skills and innovation ecosystem found in the South West, and, at a time when the COVID crisis has had such a detrimental impact on business and local communities, is committed to utilize our research and business expertise to boost the regional economy.  

"Our support to the region includes a wide range of different initiatives and partnerships, from the new South West Institute of Technology, the continued success of the SetSquared Exeter initiative, our thriving Student Start-Up scheme, the successful Degree Apprenticeship programmes and the Centre for Social Mobility, amongst others.   

“We have also launched our Green Futures Campaign, which identifies how the University is driving action on the environment and climate emergency in partnership with governments, businesses and communities.   

"We must now ensure that our local employers and partners are getting the most out of what our universities can provide during this challenging process of recovery.”    

Pete Russell, Founder and CEO of Ooooby, at Shillingford Organics in Devon, said: “Entrepreneurship often feels like swimming across oceans of uncertainty to get to an imagined destination.   

“The support that the University of Exeter provides settles the nerves and the expertise offered helps navigate some otherwise daunting challenges. Knowing that you’re dealing with professionals backed by a solid institution provides a sense of stability and staying power.”  

Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on every aspect of our lives over the last 12 months, and it is vital that we act together to boost our economic and social recovery over both the short and long term.  Our universities play a pivotal role in the regional development, prosperity and success, through research, knowledge transfer partnerships, business support, innovation, and student career development.   

We know that there a huge potential for our universities, including the University of Exeter, to work with employers, stakeholders and regional leaders to be at the forefront of the recovery, and ensure that the South West region will thrive in the years to come.”  

Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth added: “Universities across the South West region have a pivotal role to play in our economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The research, innovation and knowledge and skills exchanges are absolutely crucial in ensuring that the region thrives after what has been one of the most challenging times in living history.    

Now, more than ever, we need to work together to develop even stronger links between our universities, businesses, policy makers and all local communities to build a stronger future for us all.    

“The Penryn Campus in Cornwall has a wealth of expertise, strong traditions of innovative research and robust links to businesses that need to be developed and nurtured as much as possible, and I look forward to supporting those partnerships both now and in the years to come.”  

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Universities UK’s President, said: "By working closely with their partners, including local government and employers, universities will play a vital role in the UK's post- recovery. Together, they can contribute significantly to future economic success and improve lives. Moving forward it is important that employers fully take advantage of universities’ support and develop productive relationships so the region can bounce back stronger from the pandemic.”  

Find out more about Universities UK’s #GettingResults campaign

Date: 27 May 2021