Economic Geography of Higher Education: Knowledge, Infrastructure, and Learning Regions

Economic Geography of Higher Education: Knowledge, Infrastructure, and Learning Regions

Economic Geography of Higher Education: Knowledge, Infrastructure, and Learning Regions

Economic Geography of Higher Education: Knowledge, Infrastructure, and Learning Regions

Synopsis

This exhaustive study from an experienced and respected set of editors and authors looks at the impact that universities have on their surroundings, with particular reference to regional development.

Excerpt

Within advanced economies, there is a growing conviction that university teaching and research should be directed towards specific economic and social objectives. Nowhere is this demand for 'specificity' clearer than in the field of regional development. While they are located 'in' regions, universities are being asked by a new set of regional actors and agencies to make an active contribution to the development of these regions. These demands are driven by new processes of globalisation and localisation in economic development, whereby the local environment is as relevant as the national macro-economic situation in determining the ability of enterprises to compete in the global economy. Within this environment, the local availability of knowledge and skills is as important as physical infrastructure and, as a result, regionally engaged universities can become a key locational asset and powerhouse for economic development.

While universities have always contributed to the social and cultural development of the places in which they are located through a sense of civic responsibility, the emerging regional development agenda requires regional engagement to be formally recognised as a 'third role' for universities, fully integrated with mainstream teaching and research. the requirements for regional engagement therefore embrace many facets of the 'responsive university' which are generated by evolving priorities within the higher education system. These priorities include meeting the needs of a more diverse client population: for lifelong learning created by changing skill demands; for more locally-based education as public maintenance support for students declines; for greater links between research and teaching; and, for more engagement with the end users of this research.

For many universities, regional engagement is therefore becoming the crucible within which an appropriate response to overall trends within higher education is being forged. Responding to the new demands requires new kinds of resources and new forms of management that enable universities as institutions to make a dynamic contribution to the development process in the round. Within the university, the challenge is to link the teaching, research,

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