Universities Week focuses on benefits higher education brings to communities
Release Date 13 June 2011
Universities Week at the University of Reading: http://www.reading.ac.uk/thevalueofuniversities/
The value higher education brings to communities is a key focus for this year's Universities Week during which the University of Reading will celebrate its links with business and the volunteering work of its students.
Universities Week, from 13-19 June, aims to highlight how universities benefit everyone, whether or not they have gone to university themselves. Universities play a vital role in the national and local economy and the work that they carry out benefits everyone through the creation of new knowledge and research, partnerships with business and the sharing of facilities and knowledge with our local communities.
Professor Gordon Marshall, Vice Chancellor of the University, said: "We are extremely proud of the value that the University of Reading adds to our region's culture and economy. Not only do our staff and students generate world-leading research in areas such as climate science, nutrition, heart disease and sustainable buildings, but we also assist hundreds of businesses in the area to deliver solutions, and train over 3,000 new members of the workforce every year."
This week the University's new Reading Enterprise Centre will be opened by the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Mark Prisk MP, on Tuesday, 14 June. Based on the Whiteknights campus, the purpose-built centre provides businesses with the space to develop and grow and direct access to the University's research and enterprise expertise and talent pool of staff, students and graduates.
A new survey, Big Ideas for Business*, published this week by the Institute of Directors and Universities UK, reveals that 70% of small and medium-sized businesses in the South have worked with a university or higher education institute (HEI). Research was a key area with 8% participating in collaborative research, 7% contracting a HEI to conduct research and 4% using specialist equipment and facilities.
The University's leading research around food and farming will be showcased at the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading on Saturday 18 June. Staff and students will be on hand to discuss why blueberries boost memory, what we are doing to secure the world's supply of fruit and how the University's Museum of English Rural Life is protecting our farming heritage.
Every year, many of our students volunteer in a wide range of schools, organisations and charities. On Wednesday, 15 June, the University of Reading will mark the significant achievements and impact of both our students and local volunteers who have made a personal contribution within our institution and wider community over the past year.
The event will bring together three important areas of the University, the Reading Experience and Development (RED) Award, the Student Tutoring Scheme and the Museum of English and Rural Life. Each of these areas provides support and opportunities for students and residents to get involved in projects and activities outside of their normal work or studies, of huge benefit to the community.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, which is co-ordinating the Week, said: "In the media maelstrom which currently surrounds higher education funding, it's easy to lose sight of the huge social, economic and cultural impact of universities. The idea behind this campaign is to tell some of the amazing and inspiring stories of why universities matter to the UK, and how they benefit everyone in the country."
For more information please contact Rona Cheeseman, press officer at the University of Reading, on 0118 378 7388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
*The report, Big Ideas for Business, conducted research among 945 small and medium-sized businesses (employing up to 249 people) nationally and 234 in the South. The survey also showed that 26% of SMEs in the South employed a recent graduate or postgraduate, 14% offered work experience opportunities or sandwich placements, 11% offered formal internships and 9% engaged in business projects as part of a university course. Overall, 55% of SMEs in the South viewed the impact of their links with higher education as positive or very positive.
The University of Reading is one of the UK's top research-intensive universities. The University is ranked in the top 20 UK higher education institutions in securing research council grants worth nearly £10 million from EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, AHRC and BBSRC. In the latest Research Assessment Exercise (2008), over 87% of the University's research was deemed to be of international standing. Areas of particular research strength recognised include meteorology and climate change, typography and graphic design, archaeology, philosophy, food biosciences, construction management, real estate and planning, as well as law.