November 2022 Virtual Conference!

Dear UKTGA Member

Hi everyone,
You are all invited to the UKTGA virtual conference on November 15th from 9:30am-4:30pm. This all-day event includes sessions from council members, council officers, professors, landlords student wellbeing practitioners, and many others. A full overview of the day’s speakers presenters can be found below.

The cost for the full day’s conference is only £35.00 (including VAT) , and payments can be  paid made  by card at uktga.org or by calling 161 275 7682 and registering with a member of Manchester Student Homes using the online link below.
payment link here

Any enquiries can be made to manchesterstudenthomes@manchester.ac.uk
Or call – 0161 275 7680

Confirmed Speakers for the Day


Councillor Bev Craig – Leader of Manchester City Council

Bev Craig, Councillor for Burnage ward, became leader of Manchester City Council in December 2021. As leader, her focus is on Manchester’s ambitious COVID recovery, the importance of building a more inclusive and sustainable economy, children and young people, equalities, housing and zero carbon. She is also Greater Manchester Combined Authority portfolio lead for Economy, Business & International.
https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/who-we-are/leaders/bev-craig/

 


Dr Simon Merrywest – Director for the Student Experience - University of Manchester

Simon leads the Directorate and has overall responsibility for its staff and operations. He is also a member of the Professional Services Leadership Team and works in partnership with the Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students, and other senior colleagues and students in the development and delivery of strategies to deliver an outstanding experience for all students.
https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/dse/about/our-people/simonmerrywest/

Professor Darren Smith (Geography and Environment) – University of Loughborough
Darren is fascinated by the formation of new social and economic geographies that are giving rise to more exclusive, segregated, and transient societies. He coined the term ‘studentification’ to conceptualise processes of change within university towns and cities tied to the growth of student populations and the expansion of higher education.

Changing geographies of post-studentification?
Abstract - The demand and supply of student housing is being reconfigured within the context of a fluid and changing world.  The profound effects of the Covid pandemic and unfolding political, policy and economic conditions are reshaping where, why, when, and how students are accommodated in towns and cities.  Student experiences, forms of study, and lifestyles are being redefined and redrawn, and social relations within the student population are being transformed by changing aspirations and motivations, and engagements with ‘the campus’.  This changing context will have serious implications for future town and gown relations and how urban landscapes and societies are influenced by patterns of student housing and student populations, and higher education institutions. The aim of this session is to explore the scale and magnitude of these changing geographies of studentification, and to illuminate how some of these unfolding challenges are being addressed and managed by a range of stakeholders.
https://www.lboro.ac.uk/subjects/geography-environment/staff/darren-smith/



Professor Robert Ralphs (Criminology and Social Policy) – Manchester Metropolitan University

Rob is a Professor of Criminology and Social Policy. He has 15 years’ experience of research and lecturing in the areas of substance misuse, youth crime, violent crime, gangs, criminal justice policy and criminological theory.
https://www.mmu.ac.uk/sociology/staff/profile/professor-robert-ralphs

Dr Oliver Sutcliffe – Senior Lecturer and Director for Operation MANDRAKE – Manchester Metropolitan University
Oliver is the Director for Operation MANDRAKE. MANDRAKE is England's first publicly funded permanent city-centre based testing and harm reduction facility, operating since 2016, supporting open science and agencies working towards safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the public. The partnership which operates two permanent state-of-the-art, fully equipped laboratories, is working on a number of intelligence sharing projects to safeguard communities through drug awareness & harm-reduction.https://www.mmu.ac.uk/natural-sciences/staff/profile/dr-oliver-sutcliffe
https://www.sutcliffe-research.org/mandrake/

 

Duncan Morrow - Lecturer in Politics and Director of Community Engagement - Ulster UniversityFor ten years, Duncan was Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council where he championed the concept of a shared future and peace-building by developing the Council’s role in policy.
https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/dj-morrow

Abstract
Ulster University’s decision to close their largest campus situation in a suburban setting near Belfast and move its 16,000 staff and students into an enhanced Belfast City Centre campus represented major institutional change and a considerable challenge for the city of Belfast and its city Centre neighborhoods. In the context of a city emerging from violent conflict, the new campus represented the biggest single investment in cultural and social change for 25 years. The new campus has fully opened in September 2022.The presentation will reflect on how the University adapted to Town and Gown issues of

 

  • shared space,
  • ongoing challenges of student and staff safety,
  • developing community relationships with communities directly impacted by the campus, and
  • the management and value of multiagency groups including Community, Policing, Local Authorities, and Government Departments and Agencies.

In the context of the Covid pandemic, the presentation will also reflect on how events impacted the progression of the completion of the campus.  In the presentation, we will reflect on the challenges of managing of-campus living, and the implications of universities and students for planning, management, and design in cities.
The presentation is of direct interest to all those engaged in university public engagement, student and community engagement officers, and all stakeholders involved in managing community/university affairs including local Councils and Police.  

 

Jenny Ardley – Community Warden – Loughborough University
Jenny Ardley has been the Community Warden at Loughborough University for eight years. There are roughly 8,500 students in a town of 60,000. The role covers welfare, anti-social behaviour, rubbish, recycling and littering, which is all tackled as a multi-agency partnership with Leicestershire Police and Charnwood Borough Council. Sustainability is now a thread within Loughborough University’s Strategy which is driving extra efforts to educate students about recycling and reusing common household items. New partnerships with charity organisations have ensured that items are well used by those who need them.

Carolyn Uphill  - Landlord
A student landlord in Manchester for 20 years, Carolyn Uphill was Chairman of the National Landlords Association for four years, on the Board of Directors for 10 and prepared the ground for its merger with the Residential Landlords Association. She remains an active member of the new National Residential Landlords Association which has over 95,000 members.

With a portfolio of 3 family homes and 3 student HMO’s Carolyn understand both markets. Taking pride in the service which she and her husband provide they have undertaken training to become and maintain their status as Accredited Landlords with the NRLA as well as adhering to the Manchester Student Homes Code.

Formerly MD of her own manufacturing company for 30 years Carolyn has since held a number of non-executive directorships and is currently the Independent Chairman of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme.

ABSTRACT
The Governments’ plans for Rental Reform, while intended to protect tenants, may have a negative if not terminal effect on the student rental market leading to a return to the sofa surfing of the 1970’s.

The proposals in the White Paper ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ will result in an end to fix term tenancies. This session will explore the impact of this change on a market geared to the ‘academic year’ needs of students and the difficulties which Universities may face if first year students lose confidence in their ability to move and free up accommodation for the next intake. Scotland took this step some years ago and the negative results are becoming clear. Can the Government be persuaded that student accommodation is a special case?



Gavin Evans – Neighbourhood Manager – Manchester City Council Bio
:
Gavin Evans has worked at Manchester City Council for 23 years in various roles within Parks & Leisure, Regeneration, Youth Inclusion and Neighbourhoods. As Neighbourhood Manager he is responsible for improving neighbourhoods in the electoral wards of Withington, Old Moat and Fallowfield. There are approximately 80,000 students living in Manchester.

Leading on neighbourhood management in student populated areas involves working closely with services and partners such as Biffa, Manchester Student Homes, Greater Manchester Police, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Manchester to tackle anti-social behaviour, waste & recycling, graffiti and fly tipping issues.

The Manchester focus is to engage with students to be good citizens by respecting local residents and the environment, participate in volunteering, events and activities and embrace our 'Give it Don't Bin it' recycling campaign alongside the British Heart Foundation to reduce, reuse and recycle.


Save The Date Virtual Conference 2022 - 'Off Campus: In Touch'

We are delighted to announce the return of the UKTGA conference – more details to follow soon – please SAVE THE DATE and if there are any immediate queries please get in touch.


Membership Spotlight: Tatjana Walker "Balancing a busy career, family and MBA course demands"

We hear from Tatjana Walker, UKTGA Steering Group Member, about her academic pursuits, and how this has further strengthened the tools she uses to deliver her role to an A* standard. 

When I originally started to look into MBA programmes worldwide it quickly became clear that there were many choices and options available. However, the need to ensure I was able to balance my busy career, as an Area Manager working for the largest UK Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) provider, my family life and the requirements of the course had to be met. This is where University of Bradford’s School of Management and their Distance Learning MBA course have come to the fore. The fact that the University of Bradford MBA course also has the triple-crown accreditation played a significant part in my decision to enrol onto this specific course too.

As a mother, wife and someone working full-time in a very demanding role, having the flexibility to tailor my learning and study time has enabled me to have a good work / life / study balance.

Distance learning has provided me with the flexibility to work through the modules at my own pace and I must say that the support received, from the lecturers through to the administration team, has been professional and consistent. Moreover, I have found all of the modules relevant and engaging, which has in turn enabled me to further build connections with other fellow students and professionals across many industries and countries around the world.

As a senior manager within a business the course has reinforced my current knowledge, whilst expanding my horizons and challenging my ways of working. The ability to apply my learnings from each module has allowed me to gain better insight and propose new ideas within the business.

Having the additional skills and knowledge to navigate through the challenging waters of business management, can only support me in my future endeavours whilst raising my personal profile to a new heights. The Distance Learning MBA offers both flexibility and great value for money, whilst providing you with the ability to further your career.

Furthermore and in line with my current professional level, all modules have been and are relevant to my current and any future roles I may consider and would hold:

  • Accounting and economics for decision making (core module)
  • Digital marketing, branding and strategy (core module)
  • Leadership for transformational change (core module)
  • Competitiveness through technology and innovation (core module)
  • Corporate finance and crowdfunding (elective module)
  • International business strategy (elective module)
  • Entrepreneurship and creativity (elective module)
  • Management consulting (elective module)

My journey through this MBA course has been fantastic and I would happily recommend it to anyone looking to further their business management knowledge and expertise.

For businesses, developing high – potential employees and managers internally is valuable and attractive to new hires. Moreover, I believe a combination of company expertise and the rigor of an MBA program is the perfect formula to develop internal talent.

Throughout the program any applicant would be able to develop new tools to drive efficiency and growth within own teams and the company. Not only would they have a deeper understanding of their own side of the business – applying that expertise in normal day-to-day responsibilities, they would have a stronger cross-functional understanding that would help them find solutions to a broader set of company challenges.

My commitment to my current employer remains steadfast, and I feel that University of Bradford School of Management’s dynamic learning environment has allowed me to grow as a professional while at the same time adding immediate value to my employers.

 

Tatjana is Area Manager for the Unite Group.

 

 

 


Membership Spotlight! Vicki Fry Social Impact Manager, UNITE Students

In the first of our UKTGA Membership Spotlight series, we hear from Vicki Fry, Social Impact Manager about her role in strengthening communities, her global experience working with students, and the importance of 'listening'.

Click here to view: UKTGA Membership Spotlight- Meet Vicki

 

https://youtu.be/zSOYJp2jfMM

University of St Andrews Ranked #1 in the United Kingdom- The Times and Sunday Time Good University Guide 2021!

The UKTGA hear from Lesley Caldwell, Community Engagement and Social Responsibility Officer at the University of St Andrews (and UKTGA Scotland Regional Representative) about this fantastic achievement:

"We are delighted that for the first time in thirty years, the University of St Andrews has been ranked number one in the United Kingdom in The Times and Sunday Time Good University Guide 2021. No British ranking has ever placed any other university other than Oxbridge at number one. It is an exceptionally special moment for our staff, students, alumni, and the local community that the University has been recognised in this way following the difficult 18 months our community has faced.

The University has regularly ranked highly across league tables for student satisfaction, and within my role as Community Engagement and Social Responsibility Officer, I must attribute this in part to the welcoming and ultimately supportive local community within which our University sits. Over the years the town and gown relationship has thrived, and our students’ have increasingly become an integral part of the makeup of the town. The Can Do attitude of our students, with the support of our staff, has allowed life to continue in a safe and supportive environment and has ensured that as a University, we have been able to respond to the needs of the local community during the pandemic.

 

 

 

Our students are passionate about St Andrews, their learning and academic journey, but also life beyond the academic; from traditions through to sports, to volunteering, and fundraising. Their enjoyment in regards to being part of this wider community is one of the most important factors that make attending the University of St Andrews so special.

On Friday 17 September 2021, the town bells rang out at noon to celebrate this achievement. This success means a lot to us as a University but also as a town".

 

The UKTGA would like to congratulate St Andrews on this amazing achievement!


How, and why, institutions should collaborate with their communities?

Collaborative relationships between colleges or universities and their communities can contribute to an improved quality of life for everyone involved. From economic growth and development to attracting diverse talent to addressing inequalities, town-gown relations can enhance all aspects of a community. 

Caitlin Lukacs is the Manager of Editorial Content at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Caitlin spoke with Poppy at the UKTGA, Beth Bagwell, Executive Director of ITGA, and many others, about the importance of town gown collaborative efforts.

Click here for further information: September - October 2021 | CASE

 

 

 

 


UKTGA Proud To Be Working With LINK Strategic Partners

The UKTGA is proud to work with our partners at LINK Strategic. Having first met Michael Akin, President over a decade ago, we have seen our global connections go from strength to strength.

LINK Strategic Partners is a full-service communications and engagement firm built on a proud legacy of community and civic-based work for causes that matter. By understanding and respecting the communities in which we operate, we help municipalities, school districts, higher education institutions, government agencies, and other organizations create and apply the right tools and strategies to translate challenges into opportunities for hyperlocal success.

For more information about LINK and the amazing work they do across the US and UK, visit:

 

LINK Higher Education Planning UK


Virtual Forum on 'Off Campus Management- Looking Ahead'

Our UKTGA Virtual Forum on ‘Off Campus Management’- Looking Ahead’ took place on 29th July.

Thank you to those of you who joined us!

There was a great deal of insightful discussion about plans in place to manage off campus issues in the coming months. We were also lucky enough to have colleagues from the ITGA join us to discuss their Certificate Programme.

If you would like a summary of the discussion points captured, and some great examples of initiatives being delivered, please do get in touch with poppy.humphrey@manchester.ac.uk

All the best

Poppy


The Trials and Tribulations of Tenancy Turnover.

Hi. My name is Claire. I’m Community Engagement Manager at the University of Birmingham, and it has been 4 weeks since my last Tenancy Turnover.

I jest.

But, really.

What an end to the Academic Year.

I know that all of my fellow Town and Gown practitioners across the lands will have felt it too. The ups and downs, all culminating in a student body who had been cooped up for most of the year desperate from some semblance of normality, being freed via the opening up of pubs and other venues. Just in time for half of them to contract corona virus or be in close contact with someone who had. And, just in time to have self-isolation periods that stretched right across that most odd of occurrences - tenancies that end on one day, and begin again on the next, thus sparking what would normally be the ‘borrowing’ of shopping trollies from every Aldi and Lidl (other supermarkets are available), frantic movement of goods and belongings from one street to another whilst working out what to do with that 10ft blow up Rick Astley and 3 person Tortoise costume, and how to get that red-wine-tinged-vomit-stain out of the cream front room carpet so that you don’t lose any of your deposit.

It’s been a hard year for students, landlords, Universities and, well, everyone really.

This culminated in the perfect storm that was the last 2 months of the 20/21 cohort, seeing:

• Students who had hardly lived with one another due to lock downs, suddenly having to navigate shared living and all that comes with it.
• Non-student residents who were scared stiff of the potential influx of covid-ridden students descending at various points from across the lands for one last ‘hoorah’ after the wash that has been the last 18 months.
• Communities who have not learned to live with one another over the last 2 years, suffering from a serious lack of cohesion which has made navigating the conflicts of mixed communities harder to resolve.
• House parties that have actually been garden parties because, covid regs, and therefore have been noise makers due to sound travelling.
• Large gatherings in public spaces, and the resultant community complaints adding to the ‘heat’ level of everything.
• A general sense of students feeling quite hard done by, which translated in some cases to a bit of entitled behaviour which, frankly, just got everyone’s backs up.
• MASS self-isolation over tenancy turnover due to a lag following the end of year parties, with many students unable to move, and some landlords trying to claim for extra days of rent, deep cleans, and even hotel costs for incoming tenants who were unable to move in to their new homes and so had nowhere to go.

It’s been a summer of firefighting to be honest and, whilst the mandated ‘debrief’ sessions have taken place, much of the learning will require more deep reflection than I have space for here, and so I will just offer a couple of things from Brum – stuff that helped, and stuff that we need to work on.

Stuff that helped:

• Great relationships with our local councillors
• Virtual Community Town Hall events that we launched 14 months ago to keep the community informed of what was happening came in to play strongly, and gave us an added layer of comms to use
• Fabulous co-working with the Guild of Students and the programmes that we fund but they run – such as community wardens
• A change in UoB regulations which allows us to take firmer action on persistent cases of ASB Off Campus.
• Massive support from the top down for the work going on
• UKTGA Town and Gown connections were invaluable in terms of support and shared expertise

Stuff that we need to work on:

• PRACTICAL detailed planning in conjunction with the local council in terms of how to rid the area of waste post-turnover in a strategic way.
• Dealing with the ‘bin divers’ who swoop in after students have put rubbish out in the correct way, and proceed to open up bin bags and strew waste everywhere, making look as though the students are totally at fault.
• Why, oh why, oh why, is there not a better solution that the utter MAYHEM of a 48 hour tenancy turnover period?!
• Preparations for welcoming back the 21/22 cohort who will, for the most part, have limited experience of shared living, and so will bring with them a host of support and education needs in order to maintain some level of community cohesion.

I know that the above might not be particularly deep thoughts, but if you read them and think ‘at least it’s not just me’, then my job here is done. I see you my friend. I feel your pain and I validate your frustration.

Onwards.

By Claire Bent


UPP Foundation Bulletin 29.07.2021

UPP Foundation Bulletin 29.07.2021

Hello and welcome to the second UPP Foundation bulletin.

In 1960, Kingsley Amis criticised “the pit of ignorance and incapacity into which British education has sunk since the war”, arguing that “more will mean worse.”

The history of higher education in England is littered with these regular bouts of introspection. This is not surprising. Universities play a significant role in shaping our society and economy – and have done for decades, if not centuries. Institutions that mould who we are as people inevitably face scrutiny and challenge.

Today, the debate about the role of universities in society is, again, hotly contested, with signs that parts of government and Whitehall are more sceptical of universities than they have been for decades.

To change this perception and build a stronger case to government (of any political hue) we need to broaden our sector’s appeal to the people who matter to them – the public. That is why we worked with the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), supported by Public First (who conducted the polling), to publish a comprehensive report detailing public attitudes to higher education in England.

Our hope is that the report is used as a catalyst for deep discussions within universities and the wider sector on how to persuade the public of the value of higher education in England and beyond. While there is much to be optimistic about in the findings – particularly the high demand for a university education – what is striking is the high level of neutrality towards universities. History shows we will always face some scrutiny and challenge but it is vital we grow public support in the years ahead, as that's the best defence against a challenging political and policy environment.

In this edition we also have the latest from the Student Futures Commission, which held its second oral evidence session on wellbeing and the wider student experience earlier in the month. We also share insights from elsewhere, including the brilliant news that 32 universities have joined our partners Student Minds' University Mental Health Charter.

Do please forward our bulletin to your friends and colleagues (and get them to sign up!). Feedback is always welcome - email us at info@upp-foundation.org

Have a happy Thursday.

Richard Brabner, Director, UPP Foundation

Public Attitudes to Higher Education

Seven Lessons from the UPP Foundation & HEPI Polling Report

Last week, the UPP Foundation and HEPI published a major new report on public attitudes to higher education. The survey was conducted in February and asked over 2,000 adults in England about universities as institutions, the value of degrees and campus culture.

The report received a huge amount of national coverage, including The Times, The I Paper, Independent, and Daily Telegraph. This tended to focus on the finding that public support for changes to 'decolonise' the curriculum depend on how they are framed and presented.

There is a huge amount of rich data in this report and we hope you find the results as fascinating as we do. But given the extensive nature of the survey there are a number of other results that remain a little under the radar. So with Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, we penned a blog on seven other key points which emerged from the polling. In summary we found that:

1. Four times as many people regard universities’ impact as positive than those who see it is as negative but there are high levels of neutrality towards universities throughout the survey.
2. Support for higher education is split between class, age and vote - with working-class, older and Leave/Conservative voters less supportive.
3. Those who are more negative about universities tend to have had less contact with them, so the polling underlines the importance of engagement, particularly with those traditionally less likely to attend university for study.
4. When people are thinking about themselves or their families, they are more positive about degrees than when they are thinking about participation generally.
5. The public are inconsistent about the purpose of degrees. A majority of the public think that 'studying topics which do not clearly link to a profession is a waste of time' AND 'enjoying a subject is good enough reason to do it'.
6. Research is seen as the thing universities are most important for, and a majority of the public respond strongly to national impact.
7. Via a segmentation analysis we find six distinct opinion groups in the country and a large minority which are disengaged.

Student Futures Commission

“We’re going to have a group of students, both new and returning, coming to university in September, who have spent the majority of their studies in extreme uncertainty”
Mhari Underwood, The Student Room

Student Experience and Wellbeing Evidence Sessions

We recently held our second oral evidence session which investigated the student experience, covering mental health and student wellbeing. The Commission sensed that belonging – with an emphasis on social connections and lived experience – sits front of mind when exploring the student experience, and wanted to look further at how this has been disrupted by the pandemic, and how we can improve it next year.

Commissioners questioned key experts over two separate sessions; the first focused on wellbeing and student support, with the second on the wider student experience and engagement. Witnesses said that:

· It was clear that many students felt that they had lost a sense of control over their university experiences. Mhairi Underwood, Head of Student Voice and Diversity at the Student Room said that less than half of current students they surveyed felt like they had a support network they could reach out to or that they knew how to connect with their classmates.
· Everyone is going to need help with an ‘induction’ next year. Many second year students currently only have a little more experience of ‘on campus’ life than the incoming first years. This ties in with the recent research done by the Brilliant Club for the Commission on the need for a ‘long and skinny’ induction model – and the need to extend activities for much more than a week or two at the beginning of term.
· A whole university approach to student mental health and wellbeing is vital to getting the support right. As Dominic Smithies, Student Voice and Equality Lead from Student Minds noted, many issues around wellbeing stem from anxieties about other practical and structural parts of a student’s experience.
· Encouraging participation in campus life is a way to give students back a sense of agency. Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, Associate Professor Education at Imperial College London, highlighted the important role that departmental student wellbeing officers have played in connecting students to resources and support.
· As the country starts to build back after the pandemic, universities and students will have a key role to play in this. There was a clear appetite from the witnesses to embed engagement into curriculum delivery. Professor Jonathan Grant outlined the role service-led learning played across the curriculum at KCL, ensuring that all students had the opportunity to test out content learned in the classroom by applying it in the community.
· This activity can also clearly help students to build the skills they need for future careers, particularly if they have struggled to do this via internships or work experience. Hattie Tollerson, SU President at London South Bank University, outlined the success of LSBU Students’ Union in re-tooling student societies to focus on professional skills.

Professor Juliet Foster: “It’s about getting this cohort involved in what the world will become”

Professor Juliet Foster, Dean of Education King's College London and Student Futures Commissioner, reflects on the key themes to emerge from the session. Read the full transcripts from the sessions (Part One: Student Support and Wellbeing and Part Two: Student Experience and Engagement) or catch up on our YouTube channel

Articles from the Commission

· Students' interests in a shared recovery - Hattie Tollerson, outgoing SU President at London South Bank University, and Ben Vulliamy, Chief Executive of University of York Students’ Union, reflect on the evidence they shared with the Student Futures Commission
· Let’s seize this opportunity to break down barriers faced by disadvantaged students - Rae Tooth, Chief Executive of Villiers Park, argues that the pandemic presents an opportunity to build a system of higher education that works for disadvantaged learners
· Case Study: 100 days of discovery - Rachael Collins, Student Success Manager at the University of Liverpool outlines their programme for the first 100 days of a Liverpool education
· How can we facilitate the student transition to university post-Covid? - Research led by the Brilliant Club for the Commission discuss some of the key issues related to transition, and how to support students with both academic and non-academic challenges.

What we've been reading elsewhere

It is really good to see an initial 32 universities sign up to Student Minds' University Mental Health Charter programme. Published in 2019, the Charter Framework provides a set of evidence-informed principles to support universities across the UK in making mental health a university-wide priority. The Charter Programme brings together universities committed to working towards these principles to share practice and create cultural change within their institution. As the initial funder of the Charter we are really pleased to see the impact it is having, and strongly recommend other universities who are considering the programme to go for it. The team at Student Minds are a pleasure to work with, and we'd be delighted to link our sector contacts up with them.

Sheffield Hallam University - host of the Civic University Network founded by the UPP Foundation - have just published their Civic University Agreement. Their Agreement identifies four priority areas for their civic role: the economy and jobs, education and skills, health and wellbeing, and community and regeneration. It is great to see the CUA endorsed by Dan Jarvis MBE, the Mayor of South Yorkshire, alongside a range of leaders from local government, the NHS and further education. Several universities have now published their CUA, including the joint University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University Universities for Nottingham Agreement published last year. Let us know when your university publishes its CUA and we will share with our network!

Mark Cover from dataHE has written an important piece for Wonkhe which shows the supply-demand balance clearly shifting against applicants, with a reduction in offer rates and applicant choice for the first time since 2012. With the anticipated rise in demand in the 2020s he says "these patterns could well be a foretaste of a much less favourable world for applicants, and one where it gets harder for universities to increase access for underrepresented groups". Cover warns that "pressure on places can only make improving access harder". This is something we - and I'm sure the entire higher education community - will be watching closely.

With the Olympics now underway it would be remiss not to link to research from the States which debunks myths around student athletes not benefiting from participating in sport. On average, benefits include school graduation, access to university, post-university employment, and earnings - there is also a strong social mobility premium for disadvantaged and minority students. Given the huge differences in our systems in relation to sport there may not be much crossover here. But as someone who still dreams of scoring a hundred in the Ashes (it is never too late...) I found it compelling...

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