With an increasingly challenging economic landscape ahead, the role of universities in creating hubs of enterprise and employment in their areas is now more important than ever.

In the US, universities are referred to as “anchor institutions” because they are local assets that are unlikely to move in tough and changing economic times. Anchor institutions have a key role to play in local economies: they create jobs, attract businesses and the highly skilled, and form community links.

Such institutions are key stakeholders in their local cities and regions. Local engagement serves their interests as well as those of the wider local economy, for example in terms of an institution’s ability to attract high-quality staff and, in an increasingly competitive university environment, students.

Crucially, universities also supply young graduates, the key group driving successful economies. Cities benefit from the clustering of talented individuals: economic growth, innovation and higher wages all follow highly skilled graduates. And both the wages and chances of employment of low-skilled people are increasingly determined by their proximity to highly skilled workers.

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