New Essay Collection Honors Lord Kerslake's Civic Vision

The UPP Foundation has today (Wednesday 10 July) launched a new collection of essays from leading thinkers across different sectors outlining the economic and social benefits universities have on their local communities. The collection is published in memory of Lord Bob Kerskale, Chair of the UPP Foundation's Civic University Commission (2018-19), who sadly died last year.

The collection touches on a number of issues of vital importance to towns, cities features over 40 essayists from across the political spectrum and across different sectors - including education, business, healthcare, local government, think tanks, charities and the arts - who all advocate for universities to have a stronger voice in place-making. Each essay includes policy ideas for the new Government to enable the local civic role to thrive.

Included in this is a contribution from Dr Julian Skyrme and Professor Richard Jones, along with Bev Craig (Leader of Manchester City Council) with an essay on the role of The University of Manchester is supporting prosperity across Greater Manchester. The essay demonstrates the important role universities play in innovation and productivity growth across their regions.

There is also a contribution from Professor Andy Westwood on Developing skills and innovation and the importance of universities' civic roles.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Executive Director of Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement at The University of Manchester said: "Lord Bob Kerslake was one of the most distinguished public servants of his generation and made a critical contribution to the higher education sector with his Civic University Commission. As the original civic university, The University of Manchester has been delighted to contribute to this collection of new essays by civic leaders, which has been written with a new government firmly in mind".

The collection touches on a number of issues of vital importance to towns, cities and regions, including local economic growth, raising educational attainment and opportunity for disadvantaged groups, the local supply of the NHS workforce, improving the local environment, and access to culture and te arts. Following the launch at the National Theatre, the full collection is available from

Several prominent public figures have also signed an open letter to the new Prime Minister calling for actions including support for the creative sector, investment in the NHS workforce and a review of how the the post-16 educational sector can overcome the current funding crisis effecting it - all of which would continue Bob's legacy.

Among many other leadership roles, Lord Kerslake was Chair of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission supporting over 70 universities in developing Civic University Agreements and the creation of the Civic University Network. The groundbreaking work championed by Lord Kerslake has transformed the relationship between universities and their local communities across the UK.

This stands as one among many other achievements across a lifetime of public service. As a former head of the civil service, a prominent figure in local government, housing and higher education and a regular media political commentator, Lord Kerslake and his vision for society touched thousands of lives. His impact is reflected in the breadth of the essays brought together in the collection, with reflections on everything from the future of English devolution to the role of universities in tackling homelessness.

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said: "It has been an honour to orchestrate this collection to celebrate the legacy of our late great friend Bob Kerslake. It was the privilege of my career to work closely with Bob, his passion, insight, and hard work were crucial to the success of our Civic University Commission, and I know that everyone involved in the collection has benefitted from Bob's wisdom over the years. We hope that this collection provies the inspiration to the new Government to build on Bob's work to ensure the civic role is truly recognised.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Former Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University said: "Bob was one of the most gifted and committed public servants of our time. It's fitting that we launch this collection this evening, just a few days into the new government. Bob was respected across the political spectrum, but there is no doubt that had he lived he would have been a powerful resource for a progressive government embarking on national renewal. It falls to those of us who remain to rise to the standards he set, to play our part in shaping and doing policy for the common good".

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