Civic University Agreements

A key recommendation of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission was that universities should embark on creating Civic University Agreements (CUAs). CUAs are civic strategies, rooted in a robust and shared analysis of local needs and opportunities, an co-created with local partners.

On this page you will find information about universities across the UK who have published CUAs, alongside support and guidance on creating a CUA.

About Civic University Agreements

The Civic University Commission spent a year taking evidence and visiting cities across the UK. Every university the Commission visited and received evidence from were able to give a long list of projects that were worthy and undoubtedly contributed to a civic role. In every institution, there are people who are passionate about civic engagement and the development of the locality.

What was much rarer was to see evidence of civic strategy – backed by rigorous analysis of local needs and opportunities, ambitious objectives and a clearly articulated plan that made place based civic engagement a core part of the university’s mission. This finding led the Commission to recommend the creation of Civic University Agreements (CUA).

The four principles

The Civic University Commission’s final report identified four principles that should underpin any Civic University Agreement. These were also set out in the statement signed by the leaders of the universities which have pledged to develop Civic University Agreements.

Published Civic University Agreements

Getting started with a CUA

In 2019 a short consultation with universities working on civic agreements was undertaken by the University of Newcastle and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement. The consultation included interviews and responses to an online survey completed by 30 institutions. Respondents to the consultation articulated three rationales for preparing CUAs:

  • The turbulent political and policy environment mean CUAs are important as a tool to strategically prioritise a civic role.
  • Building on what, at present, might be ‘informal agreements’ between institutions and stakeholders.
  • A mechanism for self-assessment and peer evaluation to hold the institution to account in terms of reaching different outcomes (but not driven by metrics).

From this consultation, we now have a better understanding of the common issues and questions universities are grappling with. Five issues emerged as being particularly worthy of attention as you embark on developing a civic strategy or civic agreement:

  • Local public voices should be at the heart of your Agreement
  • Be clear about the role of the university in the partnership
  • Be clear about the geography
  • Identify required resource, leadership and institutional capacity
  • Recognise and manage the risks

A step-by-step guide

Read our step-by-step guide to creating a Civic University Agreement in the resources section.

Developing your approach

Undertaking consultation and gathering evidence to inform your agreement and building effective partnerships.

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Striking your agreement

Deciding the most effective way to focus your agreement

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Delivering your agreement

Setting appropriate targets and goals; putting in place evaluation and monitoring; implementing effective governance and securing resources and building a team to deliver the work.

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