University seeks links with city businesses

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Bosses at Lancaster University want to work with the local community and businesses in a bid to bring about a stronger community spirit and keep skilled graduates in the city.

Speaking at a public consultation on Tuesday evening, university Vice-Chancellor Prof Mark E. Smith said the university would ideally like to have a physical presence in the city centre, in a bid to strengthen its ties with the community and involve the public in its activities.

They also hope to work more closely in future with other local education establishments such as the University of Cumbria and Lancaster & Morecambe College.

“We need to look at our priorities and how we can help each other,” Prof Smith said.

The meeting, held at The Storey Gallery, invited the views of local people, and Prof Smith was joined by his new deputy, Andrew Atherton, in responding to questions raised about the university’s future strategy.

“We see ourselves as very much a global university and one which has been hugely successful,” Prof Smith said.

“This is a reflection of the hard work of the staff who have been there over the years.

“The fact that it regularly appears in the top 10 universities is an indicator of its success. It is consistently in the top 200 in the world, of about 14,000 universities worldwide.

“The question we are currently asking ourselves is where do we go next and what do we do to cement ourselves as a university?

“We occupy a space that other universities covert and if we don’t up our game and refresh our strategy to meet that challenge we will slip down the rankings.”

Mr Atherton, who moved to Lancaster from Lincoln University in January, said there is a shared vision to become a university that is globally significant; a world leader in higher education that provides the highest quality teaching and research and engages locally and internationally.

“The primary goal is to establish Lancaster as a global leader in highereducation and a ‘go to’ university for research and teaching,” Mr Atherton said.

“Our objective is to establish Lancaster in the top 100 worldwide and secure and maintain its position in the top 10 of UK universities,” he added.

*Plans for Lancaster University’s former sports centre to make way for a building for the engineering department have been approved by city councillors. The new building will comprise workshops, offices, teaching and research labs and communal areas.