Yorkshire Universities, a regional partnership representing 11 higher education facilities, including Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield, has urged the government to back a financial support programme for the area’s instiutions.
The representative body calls on the Prime Minister to provide collective higher education support to universities in Yorkshire that would aid the region’s economic and social recovery from Covid-19 through interventions, research and teaching.
It’s after universities in Yorkshire have donated medical equipment and personal protective equipment supplies to local health and care services during the pandemic as well as sharing campus facilities and resources.
Experts at the universities of Sheffield and York are also studying the impact of coronavirus on local food supplies, while working with industry partners to improve food security and how families in poverty have been effected by the pandemic.
While Yorkshire Universities welcome the government’s £100m funding for higher education research and £2.6bn for tuition fee income in 2020/21, the partnership argues more ‘substantial’ support is required to help institutions lead the region’s recovery.
Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis said: “In South Yorkshire, higher education is crucial to our communities, our economy, and our way of life. Universities will play a vital role, as our regional and national economies and societies recovery from the Coronavirus, and we look to renew and rebuild.
“Programmes such as Sheffield Hallam University’s South Yorkshire Futures, which works on educational attainment and raising aspiration for young people, will be more important than ever as we rebuild after COVID-19.
“As will the continued research from facilities such as the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, as they look into improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move.
“If we are to emerge more resilient from this pandemic, it will be because of the decisions taken now to protect and preserve some of our great regional and national assets.
“It’s therefore down to Government to support our universities and show they are truly committed to ‘levelling up’ across the UK.
“Our universities have stepped up during our hour of need, providing the students and the skills to get us through this pandemic.
“When we come through this crisis, they will be paramount to our economy, to our health, and to social mobility across our region.”
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University, and Chair of Yorkshire Universities, commented: “Universities of different types and scale in Yorkshire are making vital contributions to efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and will be instrumental in supporting the economic and social recovery.
“As a sector, we want to strengthen our partnerships with local institutions, business and communities in the region as part of the recovery effort.
“Ensuring that government understands the value of the higher education sector and, in particular, the value of universities at this challenging time, is crucial.”