The five higher education institutions of Greater Manchester have launched a flagship agreement with mayor Andy Burnham to work together to drive social and economic change in the city region.
The Greater Manchester Civic University Agreement was signed by the vice-chancellors of the University of Bolton, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, the principal of the Royal Northern College of Music and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, alongside the 10 local authority leaders of the city region, at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Friday 24 September.
Pledges have been made for collective action on six priority areas of education and skills; reducing inequalities; jobs and growth; the digital economy; net zero; and the creative and cultural economy.
These commitments have been made following consultation with political and civic leaders, as well as polling carried out with residents of Greater Manchester. This polling found that the top priorities for people living in the city region were economic growth and reducing unemployment, improving health and wellbeing, addressing the climate crisis, and increasing job quality.
The polling also highlighted that people in the city region recognise the role of universities in meeting these priorities through training professionals to work in public services, creating jobs and opening up access to higher education for young people from across Greater Manchester and beyond.
The leaders of the five higher education institutions, said: “We are very proud of the civic role that our universities already play in Greater Manchester and this agreement sets out how we can enhance this through collective action. During the pandemic, our five universities came together in new ways to work collaboratively in meeting the needs of students, staff and our local communities. As we turn to recovery and building back better from Covid, we can be more than the sum of our parts by working together to deliver real and lasting impact for our city region.
“The Greater Manchester Civic University Agreement is the biggest and most ambitious partnership of its kind in the country covering two cities, eight boroughs and 2.8 million people and outlines how we will work together to level up our city region through innovation, reach our climate ambitions and support the creation of educational pathways into good quality jobs.”
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The signing of this agreement is a landmark moment for Greater Manchester.
“Through this agreement we can ensure our city-region is the best place for people to learn and gain qualifications throughout their lifetime, by providing more ways into further and higher education. Our universities are at the cutting edge of innovation, and we have a plan to make sure that the impact of this innovation is felt across Greater Manchester.
“Our city-region’s education institutions play an enormously important role, supporting more than 100,000 students and providing businesses with a skilled workforce, while also serving their communities and acting as major employers in their own right. They will have a significant part to play as we tackle challenges like reducing inequalities and meeting our net zero targets.”
Priority areas of action in the civic university agreement include Innovation GM – the £7bn innovation blueprint for the city region, pressing on with action to reach net zero by 2038 and supporting the growth of the digital economy through initiatives such as the AI Foundry and the Cyber Foundry. The pledge also builds on a recent commitment to collaboration with further education colleges in Greater Manchester and will seek to build partnerships with wider stakeholders across the public and private sector.