HE Response to Regional Need : The Response of Higher Education Institutions to Regional Needs

From June 1998 to January 1999
Project Leader(s): John Goddard
Staff: Paul Chatterton
Sponsors: OECD

This project examines the transformations within universities as a response to growing trends towards regionalisation of economic, social and political life. The autonomous teaching and research activities of publicly funded universities is coming under increasing pressure from governments and their electorates. The agenda has moved on from a desire to simply increase the general education level of the population and the output of scientific research; there is now a greater concern to harness university education and research to specific economic and social objectives.
Nowhere is this demand for specificity more clear than in the field of regional development. While universities are located in regions, questions are being asked about what contribution they make to the development of those regions? Whilst it might be possible to identify passive impacts of universities in terms of direct and indirect employment, how can the resources of universities be mobilised to actively contribute to the development process? Such questions are being posed because development has a strong territorial dimension - national objectives can only be achieved by realising the full potential of constituent sub-national units and in this regard universities in different regions are being required to make a contribution. So the challenge addressed in this project is how should higher education institutions respond to demands which are emanating from a set of actors and agencies which have hitherto not sought to engage in a dialogue, namely those concerned with regional development.