UPP Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust launch the Civic University Network competition

December 10, 2019

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UPP Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust are jointly launching the Civic University Network competition. The competition – open to universities, charities and sector bodies – will determine which institution will be granted £75,000 seed funding to host the new Civic University Network. The UPP Foundation is the registered charity founded by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), the UK’s leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure.

The Civic University Network aims to build on the highly successful UPP Foundation Civic University Commission, which received cross-party support from Universities Minister Chris Skidmore and Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner at the report launch earlier this year. Following the conclusion of the year-long Commission, 57 universities have pledged to develop Civic University Agreements (CUA) – the key recommendation from the Commission. The Network will provide an invaluable opportunity to further showcase best practice of universities’ civic activity.

The Agreements will help to form strategies that are rooted in a robust and shared analysis of local needs and opportunities, co-signed by local partners such as the local authority, NHS, and FE colleges. The Network will work to support the growing CUA movement by sharing learning between participating universities as they develop and implement their CUAs, allowing associated institutions to build on the best practice examples of their peers.

The Civic University Network will support participating universities through the sharing of best practice between affiliated institutions. In particular, the Network will support CUA signatories by hosting events, publishing reports and toolkits to guide the development and implementation of CUAs.

The Network will also aim to develop a peer-review model of quality assessment to ensure that all affiliated institutions share a similar understanding of what constitutes high quality civic engagement. The aim will be to develop an agreed self-evaluation and peer review model, based on a similar scheme in local government, aimed at supporting universities to expand and increase the impact of their civic role.

Beyond this, the Network will work to champion the civic university agenda while also connecting affiliated universities with other key sector and policy stakeholders. Its remit will also include planning, and seeking funding for, its own sustainability so that it can operate beyond the lifetime of the seed funding.

The civic university is one of the UPP Foundation’s key themes. It funds projects that help foster partnership and collaboration between universities and their local communities. The UPP Foundation has committed £50,000 and Carnegie UK Trust £25,000 of seed funding for the Network over the course of the next year. Both organisations will be supporting the CUA Network to look for longer term funding to continue the network for a longer period. Once it is established, the Network will be able to bid for funding from other relevant organisations. CUKT and UPP Foundation will also support the development of the Network through their respective events programmes.

Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the UPP Foundation is supporting the creation of the Civic University Network through an initial £50,000 seed funding. By working alongside Carnegie UK Trust, the Network will enable CUA-affiliated institutions to share best practice and enhance their civic role, building on the work of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission. We are looking forward to receiving innovative proposals to host the Network, which include creative solutions to ensure that the Network becomes financially sustainable and independent in the long-term.”

Pippa Coutts, Policy Manager at Carnegie UK Trust said: “The Trust, committed to evidence-informed policy and practice, encourages universities to work more closely with the third sector, communities and local authorities. We are delighted to support the Civic University Commission to continue through the Network, as it provides a nudge and support to universities to understand and work with the places where they are based.”

Key information

Eligible organisations who can apply to be the host/hub for the Network are:

A Civic University Agreement signatory university

A higher education or relevant sector body

A relevant UK registered charity

We welcome proposals from individual organisations and collaborations/coalitions. All proposals will need to detail the lead organisation, how the funding will be allocated and who is involved.


Proposals should be no longer than 10 sides of A4 and submitted via email to [email protected] by 5pm on 22 January.

Proposals will be shortlisted by the judging panel, and shortlisted organisations will be invited to an interview on 11 February in London.  The award of the grant will then be made by the judging panel (if a decision can’t be made unanimously it will be based on a simple majority).

The panel

The panel for deciding the winning proposal is:

Richard Brabner, Director, UPP Foundation

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln

Professor John Goddard OBE, Newcastle University

Pippa Coutts, Policy Manager, Carnegie UK Trust

Smita Jamdar, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau


Full details about eligibility and what we are looking for is included in our competition briefing, which can be downloaded here