Case study by the University of Chester

In one of the few partnerships of its kind, the University of Chester and Shropshire Council established University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) in one of the Higher Education ‘cold spots’ identified by the Government in 2014, with the ultimate aim of it becoming an independent university.

Since its launch, UCS has established itself as a standout institution, embracing enterprising approaches to support students and the region to realise their potential. From the beginning, innovation has been set firmly in its foundations and the institution is focused on high-quality teaching and research, fostering entrepreneurship and making a positive impact that reaches as far as possible.

Students can choose from a range of programmes, from BA Business Management and the Master of Business Administration to BA Events and Festivals Management to Master of Rural Health. These courses and the wider opportunities on offer at UCS have been designed to offer a range of practice-based experiences, alongside academic rigour, and in turn support students to become extremely employable graduates.

The curriculum has been developed and is delivered in collaboration with businesses, and instead of following a traditional structure, learning and research is aligned to local, regional and national needs.

Mandy Thorn MBE, Chair of the Shropshire Business Board, said: “The commitment of UCS towards engaging with the diverse local business communities, and towards addressing identified skills gaps within those communities, has been central to its formative years. Furthermore, through its exciting ongoing plans, the institution is primed to play a key role in future business creation, growth and prosperity in Shropshire and in the wider Marches region.”

It is the shared vision of the University of Chester and Shropshire Council to create a Higher Education Institution that acts as a significant and sustainable force for regional and societal transformation. As part of this, UCS is focusing on establishing two new specialist centres that will position UCS as a test bed for transformational research.

Paul Kirkbright, Deputy Provost at UCS said: “Through these areas of excellence we will address local demographic, business and skills challenges, with the long-term goal of improving Shropshire’s skills, productivity and levels of innovation. Successful solutions and models will then be shared and rolled out across the country. This will help to deliver the ambitions and the targets of the Government’s Industrial Strategy: to realise inclusive, sustainable economic growth across the UK.”

Alongside the development of the Centres, UCS has launched a Community Innovation Fund with the Furrows Group, a family-owned Shropshire business, to support initiatives that offer long-term benefits to the community through grants and the input of UCS students and staff.

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Published: 5 September, 2018


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.