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Title: Putting Universities in their Place: An evidence-based approach to understanding the contribution of higher education to local and regional development
Authors: Kempton, Louise
Rego, Maria da Conceição
Alves, Lucir Reinaldo
Serra, Maurício Aguiar
Vallance, Paul
Tewdwr-Jones, Mark
Keywords: Universities
Regional development
Issue Date: 2021
Citation: Kempton, L., Rego, M.C., Alves, L. R., Vallance, P. Serra, M.A., Tewdwr-Jones, M. (2021). Putting Universities in their Place: An evidence-based approach to understanding the contribution of higher education to local and regional development, Regional Studies Policy Impact Books, Volume 3, Issue 1. Regional Studies Association. ISSN: 2578-711X. ISBN13: 978-1-032-05566 (print); ISBN13: 978-1-003-19815-4 (e-book).
Abstract: Executive summary The past 50 years have seen a massive expansion in higher education, especially in middle income countries. There has also been significant growth in student mobility, though this tends to favour higher income countries who enjoy positive net flows at the expense of lower income ones. University missions evolve over time and in response to external demands. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in regional development. There are mutual benefits – for example universities get access to new funding streams and regional partners get access to knowledge, innovation and technology. But effective regional partnerships require trust and can often be a time-consuming process. Relationships need to go beyond superficial displays of cooperation through, for example, the signing of high level agreements such as memoranda of understanding. The primary value of higher education to a region is through enhancing human capital. This can stimulate productivity, entrepreneurship and innovation. However, this presents a challenge for peripheral or lagging regions: graduates are generally highly mobile, with a tendency to migrate to the most high performing places; the presence of HEIs in a region alone is therefore not sufficient to ensure it will benefit from this uplift in human capital relative to other regions. Involving universities in regional strategies to develop, support and grow new sectors can mitigate his effect, by creating employment and business opportunities for graduates. However, matching HE provision to local needs is a high risk approach that may have the opposite effect for which it is intended, as HEIs and places can become ‘locked in’ to a spiral of mutual decline. Some regions may develop strategies based on university research, driving new path creation, while others focus on their role in path adaptation. The former is a high risk-high reward strategy that, evidence shows, only succeeds in exceptional cases. A focus of universities’ contribution on the supply side (generating graduates and new knowledge through research) is not sufficient, especially in the periphery. There is also a need to develop the demand side (absorptive capacity) and translational dimensions of knowledge transfer. This study demonstrates the most significant contribution of universities to regional economies is through supporting the development of regional resilience and adaptive capacity through teaching and research. This requires universities to have engagement and impact strategies that go beyond the direct economic effect of their presence on the local economy. This presents particular challenges for policy makers in peripheral regions, as they need to do more than their counterparts in core regions, to develop the demand side and attract and retain skilled people. There are various models of university-region relations for development that have had a big impact on shaping policy. However, they have inherent weaknesses, especially in terms of their application in less developed or peripheral regions. In addition, they do not take sufficient account of the diversity of institutional, policy and regional settings.
ISBN: 978-1-032-05566
ISSN: 2578-711X
Type: book
Appears in Collections:CEFAGE - Publicações - Livros

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