Widening Regional Engagement of HE and TVET

The aims of this project funded under the aegis of an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account are to:

  • Support further work to review and enhance a template to map the engagement of universities with their cities and regions for use in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in Hong Kong, Italy and the UK
  • Adapt a revised benchmarking tool to create an online version; and

  • Promote its use nationally and in an international context.

The template that we will use was originally based on a tool developed for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 2002. Since that time policy and practice in HEIs has been substantially developed, as has the policy environment in which HEIs operate. For example, UNESCO has strongly promoted the concept of learning cities and formulated a range of related performance indicators. Governments in many parts of the world now lay great stress on innovation eco-systems, and some have revised policy for HEIs and Further Education Colleges to place great stress on the meeting of regional development needs. The adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goals (especially 4 and 11) and the New Urban Agenda also add impetus to the expectation that HEIs and TVET will pay an important role in the delivery of these agendas. In the UK, there is resonance for this work in the context of both Global Challenges (e.g. the current GCRF call related to ‘Decent Work’) and Industrial Challenges within which stronger contribution from the education sector as a whole, including TVET are vital underpinnings. The template has potential to be applied in all these contexts. For the purposes of this small-scale piece of work, we are restricting ourselves to just three locations.

The template has been already piloted in Hong Kong University of Education in relation to HEIs and vocational education. That pilot will be evaluated both through scrutiny of the process of application and from appraisal of the benefits perceived, and future actions of the institutions and regional policy-makers concerned. The template has been administered by arrangement with local investigators using their resources. This study will scrutinise the output, and through interviews with relevant stakeholders, identify its utility and subsequent actions and impact. Similar work will be undertaken with the University of Catania in Italy and with the FE component of the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland.

The project will be led by Professor Michael Osborne and supported by Honorary Senior Research Fellow, John Tibbitt.


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