Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Make Universities More Accessible' to Businesses

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Make Universities More Accessible' to Businesses

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Dent

UNIVERSITIES must become more accessible to businesses to help the UK retain its competitive edge in the global economy, according to the CBI.

The business organisation is urging industry and academics to work in partnership to improve training and generate ideas for new products and services.

The CBI's Stepping Higher report was put together with the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which is investing pounds 150m in a programme to remove barriers between businesses and universities.

The report is particularly pertinent to the North East, which has five universities - Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland, Durham and Teesside - in a relatively small geographical area.

The report said pounds 33bn is spent annually on training nationally, pounds 5bn of which could be provided by universities.

However, it says both businesses and universities need to rethink their approaches to achieve greater mutual benefits.

Director-general Richard Lambert said: "Both sides can benefit from collaboration - businesses from new thinking and high quality employees, and universities from practical insights that enrich their teaching and research.

"By failing to harness the knowledge and expertise of universities, businesses could be missing out on the chance to get high quality tailor-made training that will help their companies prosper in the longer term."

A number of initiatives in the North East are already bringing together businesses and universities.

Collaborative scheme Knowledge House works on behalf of the region's five universities and the Open University in the North to connect businesses with the skills and specialist resources higher education can offer.

And the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) is laying the groundwork for a new business-university link-up scheme.

NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham said: "It's crucial for the future of the North East economy that businesses link in with the universities.

"We have been working closely with Teesside University to look at ways of linking businesses into the expertise they have to offer. …

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