Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis has written to the Government, pressing them to provide more support to our region’s universities.
Dear Secretaries of State,
I hope this letter finds both you, your families and your teams as well as possible in the current circumstances.
Here in the Sheffield City Region, as in other areas across the UK, higher education is crucial to our communities, our economy, and our way of life. The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University both make a huge civic, economic and cultural contribution to our region.
As we emerge out of this crisis the Sheffield City Region will need the universities more than ever to equip a new workforce, to help shape the future skills needs of our region; to drive growth and innovation and to support research capacity and capability vital for our collective economic and social needs post-Coronavirus.
This is a region that should be the test bed for, and the home of, the Government’s reindustrialisation of the North programme. Existing assets like the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering are leading translational / applied research institutions and provide the blueprint for further industrialisation and commercialisation activity.
These institutions will be central to our recovery.
The Government’s programme of support in both relief and recovery must focus on boosting public investment in R&D capabilities, with more of these resources targeting the applied and translational elements of research and industrial collaboration.
It is critical then that both the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy work with both Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield to put in place a package of support that strengthens their capabilities to kickstart our economic recovery.
An early indication of your support would include approval to the two Strength in Places fund submissions made to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. These proposals drive innovation in key specialisms of glass technology, food processing and materials, process and manufacturing technologies.
The Government can also support the attraction and retention of international students by ensuring the visa system is responding effectively and there must be pace to the work that the BEIS Research sustainability taskforce brings forward proposals to support the translational research capabilities of both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.
Whilst I welcomed the government’s initial support package for universities and students, this must only be a first step. Our universities have stepped up during our hour of need, providing the students and the skills to get us through this pandemic.
I would welcome a discussion with you on the potential package of support for the region as a matter of urgency.
Dan Jarvis MBE MP
Mayor, Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority