This year Communications Management is sponsoring the Times Higher Education (THE) Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community. This is a measure of our commitment to supporting the terrific work that universities undertake in improving and supporting their local communities.

“Universities as anchors” of their towns, cities and regions is a very strong message coming from the funding body for English universities (HEFCE) – and this is so important at a time when the economy is picking up again and we need focal points to drive and re-energise local enterprise, innovation and talent for the workplace. Universities (and other higher education providers) – with their range of expertise, facilities and interests – are ideally placed to play this role.

Having worked in the sector for 25 years I have seen an outstanding range of projects that universities have devised and delivered to benefit their local environments. Particular shining examples include: the “civic engagement” of Liverpool John Moores University (which is supporting a range of cultural organisation in their city and allowing their students to benefit from the richness of these cultural opportunities as part of their student experience), Coventry University’s pivotal role in modernising its city and driving local aspirations through its ever-increasing presence, the continuing expansion of the University of Lincoln (which to me has always been a complete model of modernising a traditional city) and the University of Salford’s revival of its area through MediaCity.

All universities are, by their nature, embedded in the local community – and we’ve been working with several universities who are investing significant amounts by creating brand new campuses to strengthen their engagement. Included in these is Northampton. The University of Northampton is now close to starting work on its new Waterside campus in the Enterprise Zone of Northampton (a significant development that has ’social impact’ at its heart). This campus will replace the two current (Park and Avenue) sites and brand new development and a terrific local focus.

Since the THE Awards began – the local community award has been presented to seven institutions – including the universities of Manchester (twice), Kent, Derby, Brighton, and Southampton Solent, as well as Birkbeck and the British School of Osteopathy.

We look forward to celebrating the latest to join the award winners at the awards dinner in London later this year.

Official Sponsors - Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community