Comment: Why the University and city must work together to create a vibrant Sheffield

Professor Shearer West, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, discusses why it is vital that the University works collaboratively with partners across the city to bring cultural vibrancy, improved skills and a prosperous economy to the Sheffield City Region.

Why the University and city must work together to create a vibrant Sheffield

by Professor Shearer West, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, 31.08.16, posted on The Sheffield Star

When the University of Sheffield was founded in 1905, it was for the people of the city and because of the people of the city. When factory workers from across Sheffield generously gave their penny donations, it was with a clear vision of establishing a university which would benefit their economy, improve their health and enhance the lives of their children.

More than 100 years on, our mission has not changed. We are as committed as ever to using our world-leading expertise and ground-breaking teaching and research to make Sheffield a better place to live, work and visit for everyone.

This is something that no individual or organisation can achieve on its own. We know that working together with partners to create a vibrant Sheffield will make it even more attractive to the students and graduates who are vital to the city’s economy – but will also bring important benefits to the businesses and people who live and work alongside us.

Bringing vibrancy to our city centre

This is why we support Sheffield’s Business Improvement District (BID), a five-year project backed by more than 500 local businesses to bring vibrancy to our city centre. Why staff and students from our Department of Landscape have been working with Sheffield City Council on its Grey to Green scheme, transforming 1.2km of roads from West Bar to Castlegate to make them more attractive to workers, developers, pedestrians and cyclists. Why we run and support a city-wide programme of public engagement events to showcase our pioneering research and expertise, including Krebs Fest, Off The Shelf and Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Festival of the Mind

Right now, we are preparing to host our Festival of the Mind (15-25 September 2016) – the world’s only festival of academic-city collaboration which showcases pioneering partnerships between our researchers and the best of Sheffield’s cultural and creative talent.

This practical approach inspires collaboration with individuals, businesses and organisations beyond the University to solve society’s biggest challenges, both close to home and around the world.

Our students also have a powerful role to play. From mentoring through to activities reflecting students' own experience and skills, in a single year over 1,300 students and staff from 55 departments supported over 200 local charities and community groups and raised £178,000 for good causes.

Our outreach programmes help children at Sheffield’s schools understand the life-changing opportunities that University can provide. We also work in partnership with businesses and industry to drive innovation, productivity and growth at our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

So as we prepare to welcome back our international community of 26,000 students and 8,000 staff from more than 140 countries, we will continue to honour our founding principles – working with partners across the city to bring cultural vibrancy, improved skills and a prosperous economy to the Sheffield City Region