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The value of universities to UK society

student value
Nicola Archer Director 29/07/2022

In partnership with Universities UK, Savanta conducted research amongst MPs and the general public to share at this year’s Political Affairs Conference.

Undoubtedly, universities have faced a challenging time over the last couple of years. Both universities and we as individuals have had to adapt quickly. While it feels like things are largely returning to a familiar life again, some things will remain permanently changed.
It is therefore an important moment to look at the value universities bring to society, and perceptions of how universities help to develop and shape their local communities.

Developing skills to support the economy is considered the top priority for UK universities.

When asked about what the general public perceives as the top priorities for universities, the most emphasis is placed on providing graduates with the skills the economy needs. Developing skills to support the economy is considered the top priority for UK universities.

This is considered a priority across all age groups, but this increases with age. While building skills for the economy is also important to younger people, they narrowly prioritise providing value for money to students and graduates. While older people are more likely to place priority on the skills and economic value that universities bring to the UK, younger people are more likely to emphasise enabling social mobility, working in collaboration with local partners to support the levelling up agenda, and supporting local arts and cultural programmes.

The most significant change since asking this question last year is the much greater prioritisation that universities enable social mobility or boost life chances. This is especially important to those in Scotland and Wales.

Download the full report here.

For more information please contact Nicola Archer, Director, Social Research at [email protected].

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