Universities have role in regional development

Published: 19 January 2009

Researchers are leading a global study examining the role universities play in regional development.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are leading a global study examining the role universities play in regional development.

The PURE project is a partnership of 14 regions throughout the world which will be sharing knowledge and ideas on how universities can succeed in their ‘third mission’ of creating wealth and social capital.

Mike Osborne, Chair of Adult & Lifelong Learning, University of Glasgow, said: “Universities today have been tasked with not only teaching and research activities, but also with contributing to the socio-economic development of their communities. Most universities are very active in striving to fulfil this ‘third mission’.

“For example, adult education programmes create opportunities for individuals to form new social links which are beneficial for them and the community, and universities can also help create wealth through supporting SMEs with knowledge transfer and establishing spin-out companies.

“The PURE project will look at the current activities of universities to determine how they can better engage and succeed in their drive to play a central role in the development of their regions and meet government objectives.”

Building on work conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the two-year project will see the development of a benchmarking system to compare the activities of universities in each region in promoting wealth creation, social capital and lifelong learning opportunities.

Universities and development bodies will then share best practice to develop new and improved policies and programmes as well as agreeing on methods of measuring their impact.

The project is being carried out by Pascal International Observatory, a forum of practitioners and scholars concerned with the relationships between social capital, the management of place, and the concepts of learning regions and lifelong learning. Pascal is jointly administered by the University of Glasgow and RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

The project is being funded by the participating regions through their regional governments or development agencies.

Ahead of the project starting, the University will host a seminar on January 21 by Professors Chris Duke and David Charles who will explain more about PURE project as well as examining the different forms of engagement between universities and regions.

Prof Duke was the first chief executive of the PASCAL International Observatory and is currently visiting professor at RMIT University Melbourne. He has worked since the 1970s with the OECD and other international organisations on education in relation to development, recurrent education and lifelong learning, as well as equity, poverty reduction issues and sustainable development.

Prof Charles is the David Goldman chair of business innovation in Newcastle University Business School and is also the director of the centre on Knowledge, innovation, technology and enterprise.  Since the late 1980s Prof Charles has been involved in a series of highly influential academic and policy studies on regional innovation policy and on the regional role of universities.

The seminar, which takes place in the Randolph Room of the St Andrews Building from 2pm to 4.30pm, will be chaired by Prof Osborne. For further information and to register for the seminar contact Patsy Shiels on p.shiels@educ.gla.ac.uk or 0141 330 1825.

The regions signed up to the project are: Flanders, Belgium; Jamtland, Sweden; Varmland, Sweden; Bukersud, Norway; Melbourne; Scotland; Puglia, Italy; Lesotho; Botswana; Thames Gateway; Kent; Northern Illinois; and Trans-Danube, Hungary.

For more information, contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email s.forsyth@admin.gla.ac.uk

First published: 19 January 2009

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