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Discuss devolution and HE

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How to support the local economy 

Universities and colleges play an important role in driving economic growth in their local areas.

They employ large workforces, buy goods and services from local businesses and attract students who spend in local communities.

They also act as 'anchor institutions' in other ways. Some of these include:

  • addressing local skills needs by providing education that meets local labour market demand needs
  • conducting applied research that benefits local partners
  • encouraging collaboration on innovation between themselves and local businesses
  • developing management and leadership skills in local SMEs
  • encouraging staff and student start-ups and spin-off companies
  • providing workspace for innovative business who employ more people
  • supporting social innovation and social enterprise and driving local arts, creative and cultural activities
  • engaging with local schools by sponsoring academies and establishing free schools or by working to increase participation in higher education.

These activities have the potential to stimulate local economic growth, raise local incomes and make people better off.

The devolution of government powers and the reform of public finance in England have also increased opportunities for universities to play a role in local growth.

An increase in sources of place-based funding mean that there may be new opportunities for universities to access alternative sources of funding.  

How can HEFCE help?

HEFCE supports higher education providers in their local growth activities by:

We can also offer expert advice and guidance on the local growth agenda.

For further information contact Kevin Richardson, Local Growth Consultant, email

Page last updated 22 June 2017