Striking your agreement

A guide to deciding on the most effective ways to focus your civic university agreement.

About this section

In this section, you will find resources to help you focus your civic university agreement effectively.

  • Which partners will you prioritise to work with on your CUA?
  • What are realistic and credible goals for these agreements? How many areas of activity should they encompass?
  • At what geographical scale? Over what timescale?
  • What makes an effective agreement that enables but doesn’t constrain, and which allows flexibility to cope with rapid change?

Top tips

  • Agreements need to have ‘flex’ built in, given that local circumstances can change rapidly and national priorities can change. However a long term commitment is also critical if the potential of the process is to be realised.
  • A ‘theory of change’ approach to identify the context, assumptions, goals and intended outcomes from agreements can be helpful.
  • While CUAs should cover place-based development in the round, universities may want to consider focussing on specific themes.
  • Agreements should be underpinned by a set of high-level principles – but delivery plans (perhaps for different thematic areas) are important too to ensure things get done.
  • Wider national outcome frameworks might be shared across the local network to help guide activity to help it align with wider policy priorities (e.g. bridging the productivity gap between places).
  • Be clear about the period to which the CUA applies – e.g. 5 or 10 years.

Civic Recipes

This briefing reviews how different HEI have focused their civic strategy. It provides a ‘menu’ of possible approaches, and links to lots of examples of civic activity across the UK

Video Case Studies

These case studies tell the story of how HEIs and HEI partnerships have struck civic agreements. They outline the processes followed, and we provide links to range of useful resources that underpin the agreements.

Greater Manchester and Tower Hamlets: Work in Progress

Hear from two cross-university teams and find out about their work. The five universities in Greater Manchester have worked with partners across the region to launch a Civic Agreement. The team in East London are at a much earlier stage – laying the foundations for a more formal partnership.

You can view the Greater Manchester Civic Agreement here and access the slides and links shared during the presentations here.

The Sheffield Hallam Story: Our Civic University Agreement

Richard Calvert, SHU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, explains how the University went about developing their Civic Agreement, which was launched in July 2021. He explains why SHU chose the approach they did and shares lessons learned.

You can view SHU’s published Civic University Agreement on the university website and access the slides from the presentation here.

University of Bath: Leading the development & delivery of a civic agreement

This presentation was recorded in September 2021 and tells the story of the University of Bath’s development of a Civic University Agreement in the city and region.

You can access a timeline of their progress; a briefing pack about the activity, with links to useful resources; and a written case study produced earlier in 2021.

Universities for Nottingham

Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham launched their ‘Universities for Nottingham;’ civic agreement in the summer of 2020. The team from NTU and a key partner, the NHS, outline how they went about it.

This briefing note provides links to useful resources developed to support the process, and to the published agreement. You can access an update on their progress (in November 2021) in the next section, delivering your agreement.

Solent University: developing a Civic Charter

Mike Toy, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Solent, explains why the University chose to develop a Civic Charter – and how this has laid the foundations for a Civic University Agreement.

A resource pack is in development and will be uploaded here soon.

Wrexham Glyndwr: A co-created civic mission

Nina Ruddle, Head of Public Policy Engagement at Wrexham Glyndwr, explains how the university has set about co-developing its civic strategy with key regional partners.

This briefing note provides links to useful resources developed by the project, including their Civic Mission Framework.

Further Resources

King’s College London – A civic university at the heart of London

King’s committed to a Civic strategy several years ago, and now has a comprehensive set of agreements and interventions in place to deliver on this commitment. Here, Jim Collins, their Director of London Strategy and planning, explains how they have framed and focused their activity.

Leading the development of a civic agreement

Helen Featherstone, Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath, explains the university’s approach to developing their civic agreement and describes how her role has evolved to take on leadership of this work.

Other sections in this guide

Developing your approach

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

Striking your agreement

Deciding the most effective way to focus your agreement

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.