Providing our expertise to the Civic University Commission

The role of the civic university

Senior leaders from the University have been invited to the House of Lords to provide expert input into a national initiative looking at the role of universities in today’s society.

Led by Professor Judith Petts, CBE, Vice-Chancellor, the delegation met with Lord Kerslake, Chair of the Civic University Commission, and panel of commissioners to provide insight on Plymouth’s work across a range of sectors. Areas discussed included how universities contribute to addressing some of the most pressing and urgent issues around the nation’s health. 

In the South West, the University is the leading provider of health education, and the team briefed Lord Kerslake and the panel on how it works closely with partner Trusts and other organisations to deliver both outstanding teaching and research. 

The University of Plymouth has been proudly rooted in its local community since its foundation as a School of Navigation more than 150 years ago. Today, it conducts globally significant research that is equally impactful on a local level.

Professor Judith Petts, CBE


Economic and social impact

The invitation to the Civic University Commission follows the University’s economic and social impact event on 6 July 2018, where analysis of the University of Plymouth's socio-economic impact and the value of universities in civic society was discussed.

Analysis of our socio-economic impact upon the city, region and UK

University of Plymouth key drivers

Visitors on a tour of the campus in the Marine Building Wave Tank
Economic innovation and advancement
A group of dental students are visiting Ford Primary School to demonstrate oral hygiene to the pupils.
Catalysts for social change
Peninsula Arts Gallery
Champions of cultural development
  • - The largest provider of healthcare-related programmes of study in the southwest of England
  • - One of only four UK Brain Tumour Research Centres of Excellence
  • - Our research output in clinical medicine is ranked top in the UKI, with 80% of the research classed as ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’
  • - Our dental school is the first in the UK to gain Surgical Education Centre accreditation from the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS)

Plastics pollution

The University’s long-standing research into plastics pollution in the oceans, which has influenced policy and legislation, formed another key part of the talks. Our expertise has guided industry, informed educational and artistic initiatives that raise awareness, and has provided evidence for government agencies and international organisations such as the United Nations.

Video: washing clothes releases synthetic micro fibres

More than 700,000 microscopic fibres could be released into waste water during each use of a domestic washing machine, with many of them likely to pass through sewage treatment and into the environment.

The University's nationally and internationally recognised successes are inspired by its locality and local challenges – socially, economically, culturally and environmentally.

Cultural regeneration

Our institution’s pivotal role in the region’s cultural regeneration, including the landmark history centre project, The Box, which has attracted significant Arts Council England support and funding, was also discussed.

With a target completion date of spring 2020, in time for Mayflower 400, focus for The Box is already moving towards the medium term, and a goal of becoming a fully sustainable not-for-profit company within two years of launch, in a venue capable of attracting 250,000 visitors each year.

Local and global impact

The University was joined at the briefing by the University of Exeter, and in summing up, Professor Judith Petts, CBE, said

“It was a very positive and engaging meeting with Lord Kerslake and the panel of commissioners, and we were delighted to have this opportunity to provide an overview into some of the many ways in which the University has significant impact both locally and globally.”

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