UCLan recognised for local regeneration and work with public sector

27 September 2023

The University scored ‘highly’ and ‘very highly’ in six areas of the latest Knowledge Exchange Framework

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has once again been nationally recognised for its very high levels of engagement with local regeneration and with public and third sector organisations.

Results of the third Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), published today (27 September), show the institution ranked in the top 20% of English Higher Education Institutions in the areas of local growth and regeneration; working with the public and third sector; and continuous professional development (CPD) and graduate start-ups.

As well as being ahead of other HEIs in our ‘cluster’, similar HEIs in size and scope, UCLan also scored highly in the areas of intellectual property and commercialisation; public and community engagement; and research partnerships.

Professor StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: “I’m delighted this year’s KEF results reflect the fantastic work we do with such a wide range of partners.

“Our results demonstrate our importance as an anchor institution within Lancashire and Cumbria, as we are at the heart of many education, research and training initiatives that are increasing qualifications and skills and boosting inclusion and productivity across the North West.

"I’m delighted this year’s KEF results reflect the fantastic work we do with such a wide range of partners"

Professor StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise

“I’m particularly pleased that we’ve improved our public and community engagement score as we do many fantastic activities with such a wide number of schools and community groups, including running the award-winning Lancashire Science Festival.”

UCLan plays an integral role within the region’s growth and regeneration ecosystem. It supports or participates in many different organisations, including the Allied Health Science Network, various NHS Trusts, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Burnley Bondholders, a number of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and local authorities, as well as sector bodies such as the North West Aerospace Alliance. It also represents Lancashire at regional and national levels including discussions with Government departments.

Working with employers, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to develop and deliver regeneration and re-skilling programmes is a huge part of the University’s offering. Helping local employees gain new skills and qualifications through continuous professional development courses, professional training and higher and degree apprenticeship programmes are cornerstones of business development.

UCLan now has nearly 1,900 degree apprentices on 30 programmes across a wide range of sectors, with five more courses starting this month. Those degree apprentices, from 750 businesses, are gaining higher level skills and qualifications through a variety of programmes.

In recent years, the University’s regeneration in Preston has seen investment up to £200 million to transform the centre of the campus, including the creation of the state-of-the-art University Square and Student Centre. These sit alongside the Engineering and Innovation Centre which houses a selection of our research and knowledge exchange teams working on projects with businesses in areas such as drone technology, robotics, medtech, diagnostic technology and digital innovation.

"The KEF continues to be a powerful tool to describe the breadth of scope of knowledge exchange"

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England

NASA, Google, BAE Systems, NHS, People’s Health Trust, British Cycling, Silent Night and Recycling Lives Ltd are also long-term research partners of the University.

The KEF, which scores the rich contributions that English higher education providers make, both economically and socially, on both local and national levels, has been undertaken by Research England and involved 127 institutions. It compares institutions on a like-for-like basis, with similar institutions being grouped together with their peers in ‘KEF clusters’ based on factors like their size, specialisation and the intensity of their research activities.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England, said: “Across the breadth of higher education, institutions make rich and diverse contributions to the economy and society through their knowledge exchange activities.

“Research England is delighted to announce today the publication of the latest version of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF3). The KEF continues to be a powerful tool to describe the breadth of scope of knowledge exchange. It also provides important evidence of different university strengths through peer group comparisons.

“KEF is now in its third year and the method has been rigorously tested and begins to give us a picture of changes in performance over time. Research England’s knowledge exchange experts have presented some findings from KEF3 on comparative trends in the important government priority area of business engagement, as a taster of how it may be used as an analytical tool on sector performance dynamics. I look forward to discussion on how we can use the KEF further as we gather data over multiple years.”