A Civic University Agreement, developed by the University of Derby, has been launched in partnership with 15 other organisations from across the city and county.
The Agreement, created following extensive consultation, clearly articulates the long-term civic ambitions of the University, and how it intends to work with these 15 signatories to drive forward the local recovery and regeneration of Derby and Derbyshire, helping to channel aspirations, support local communities, share knowledge and enhance the area’s overall offer and vibrancy.
It focuses on five core goals, designed to make a positive impact on the people, communities, organisations and businesses within Derby and Derbyshire:
- Secure our future
- Drive ambition and positive change
- Make a positive environmental impact
- Support health and wellbeing
- Invest in culture as a driver for change
During the event, each goal was brought to life through a civic showcase, highlighting the breadth of projects and initiatives underway. These included presentations on:
- Apprenticeships and skills – the positive impact University of Derby civil engineering apprentices are having on Greenhatch group, a Geospatial surveys firm
- Raising aspirations – how a Year 12 student from the Bemrose School is now considering applying to Oxbridge thanks to her involvement in the Derby Scholars Programme, a partnership between the University of Derby, Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford and Murray Edwards College at the University of Cambridge
- Green travel - DerbyGo, a green mobility app being developed as part of a partnership between the University, Derby City Council and Kinto, Toyota’s mobility brand
- ‘SHEDding light on long-Covid' – a collaboration between scientific and artistic researchers at the University that will see the University’s S.H.E.D tour the country to explore the challenges affecting people suffering from long-Covid
- Retro Feva 80’s – a DerbyCAN commissioned music jukebox show inspired by Top of the Pop’s 80’s featuring a community cast of local performers.
Commenting on its launch, Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said:
“The University of Derby has always been civic – educating, innovating, creating, making, and inspiring, but this is the first time we have explicitly set out our civic intentions and articulated the overall impact made by the University and its staff and students.
“Through our Civic University Agreement, we are making a clear statement of intent as to how we will approach our civic role moving forward. However, the ambitions we have set out need support from others if we are to achieve them and I am overwhelmed by the positive response from the organisations we approached to be signatories and who will be alongside us on this important journey.”
The development of Civic University Agreements was a key recommendation in a report published in 2019 by the Civic University Commission set up by the UPP Foundation and chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake.
The report sets out how universities like Derby have the capability, opportunity and responsibility to support the places where they are based to solve some of their most pressing and major problems. These issues range from helping local businesses adapt to technological change, to boosting the health of local people, improving education for school pupils and adult learners, and training and developing new civic leaders in every field from politics to the arts.
The report aims to help universities build on the excellent work that many of them are already carrying out in these areas, working alongside councils, employers, cultural institutions, schools and further education colleges.
The signatories of the Civic University Agreement are:
University of Derby, Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, DHU Healthcare, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, Derbyshire County Council, Derby City Council, East Midlands Chamber, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, Chesterfield Borough Council, Derby Cathedral, Derbyshire Voluntary Action, Derby's Cultural Education Partnership, Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner and High Peak Borough Council.
Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber, said:
“This Civic University Agreement demonstrates the leading role in transforming place, stimulating economic growth and providing skills for the future that the University of Derby will take to contribute to the long-term economic prosperity aspirations that exist in Derby and Derbyshire.
“This agreement and its resulting future activities, initiatives and programmes will have a significant positive impact on society by supporting the aspirations of all our local communities in the city and the county and retain our future business leaders right here.”
Will Morlidge, Chief Executive of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“The Civic University Agreement is a clear sign that partners remain committed to improving social mobility and driving forward innovation and the economic prosperity of our city and county. We are proud members of the Derby Opportunity Area Board, a key part of the civic agenda, and the leadership shown by Professor Kathryn Mitchell and the support from the University of Derby team has been fundamental to improving the life-chances of many young people within our communities.”
Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said:
“It’s really exciting to be a signatory of this Civic University Agreement alongside so many other key partners in the city and region. The University is critical to the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of Derby, and I’m pleased to see those themes reflected in the agreement.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations have come together like never before for the good of the city, and it’s crucial we continue to harness that way of working going forward. Formalising that can be nothing but a good thing, in my opinion, and indeed is a key part of our Council Plan; making sure we are all ambitious for Derby - working together with the city, for the city.”
Councillor Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council Leader, said:
“We are delighted to have signed the Civic University Agreement as it contains extremely positive, ambitious and forward-thinking aims and objectives which very much align with our own.
“Areas to be focused on include economic recovery, jobs, skills, sustainable travel, tourism development and low carbon, green initiatives and these important issues are at the top of our agenda.
“We welcome joining with all the other signatories and look forward to working together to achieve these common goals, sharing knowledge and expertise and ensuring this clear and shared vision translates into making a long-lasting positive impact on our communities, the city and county as a whole.”
Angelique Foster, Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“It is important that key organisations work together to make our city and county a greater, safer place to live, work, study and invest. This agreement will be instrumental in strengthening alliances across the area, bringing together the innovation, skills and talent necessary to support the recovery from the pandemic and boost the area’s prospects for the future.”
Tracy Allen, Chief Executive at Derbyshire Community NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We are proud to be a signatory of this agreement. Building on our excellent longstanding relationship with the University of Derby that’s so important in the development of our current and future health care workforce, the agreement formalises our commitment to working together across a broader range of opportunities to support healthy, sustainable and prosperous communities in Derby and Derbyshire.”
Jacqui Willis, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Voluntary Action, said:
“Amplifying the voices of communities has never been so important. The opportunities Derbyshire Voluntary Action’s partnership with the University of Derby has created for students to enhance their studies has been incredible and impactful. We are thrilled and excited to support the Civic University Agreement.”
Stephen Bateman, Chief Executive Officer for DHU Healthcare, said:
“DHU Healthcare is really pleased to join organisations from across Derby and Derbyshire and to be part of this forward-thinking agreement. It absolutely resonates with our own strategy – where collaboration is one of five factors that are critical to our success.
“As a community interest company, we are setting out to maximise the benefits we can create through citizenship and social responsibility. We have a unique opportunity to support our communities and their good causes, offer employment and procurement opportunities and lessen environmental impact. As a key partner in the Civic University Agreement, we can come together with others to create a sustainable future for everyone.”
The Very Revd Peter Robinson, Dean of Derby Cathedral, said:
“Derby Cathedral feels privileged to be one of the signatories involved in the Civic University Agreement. We believe through shared knowledge, expertise and learning, the agreement will further develop and strengthen the active strategic partnerships across all sectors which will drive forward recovery and sustainability and contribute to the future prosperity of our city and county. We offer our practical support and full engagement in this vital task of working together for the common good of all.”
Photography by Beth Walsh