Our impact locally and globally

Sheffield is a civic university for the 21st century.

Our approach inspires innovative collaboration across subject areas and with individuals, businesses and organisations to solve the more pressing problems we face, both close to home and around the world.

Our contribution to the region's economy, public services and culture challenges traditional ideas about what a university can be.

A civic university


Illustration of Firth Court and globe to represent the University's impact locally and globally

A 21st-century civic university

The University of Sheffield was founded over a hundred years ago through the aspirations and financial support of the people of Sheffield. Members of the community gave penny donations to establish a university that would benefit the local economy, public health and their children’s futures. The founding of our University fostered a deeply ingrained connection to the local region and a sense of pride in our civic values.

Today, our University represents a global community whose citizenship stretches into more than 150 countries. We collaborate with individuals, businesses and organisations to make a difference locally and globally.


Sheffield's heritage

When the University asked the people of Sheffield for donations in 1904, Sheffield responded.

Over £50,000 was raised by penny donations from local steel and factory workers and residents – equivalent to over £15 million in today’s money. Thanks to Sheffielders' generosity, the University was able to establish a world-class institution.

In turn, we pledged to help the local economy, a goal we have achieved by partnering with Sheffield businesses and sharing skills and information.

We also promised to help bring the UK in line with other nations – an ongoing result of our pioneering research and a target met by producing highly skilled graduates from across the globe.

Newspaper clipping

We are a civic institution proud of our urban character, driving growth and vibrancy for the city, the region and the globe.

Our identity: Our strategic plan


Our Department for Lifelong Learning runs outreach programmes that encourage prospective students to get into higher education. The programmes are aimed at people from Sheffield and the surrounding region who are aged 21 and over. Once here, the department offers financial advice, sessions on study skills and specialist support.

In this video Lucy, who applied to the University through the Department of Lifelong Learning, talks about her experiences as a mature student and the help that the department has given her.

More from our mature students


Outreach and widening participation

Our outreach programme works with 150 local schools. Find out about some of our initiatives.

Engaged Learning Sheffield

Our Engaged Learning initiative gives students opportunities to work on issues of public concern in local, national and international contexts.

The University in the community

We're committed to being an integral part of the community. For example, we take part in consultation events and residents' groups, and help local communities engage with us and our students. We work with Sheffield City Council to run campaigns such as Donate, Don't Waste – each year, hundreds of tonnes of items are donated to the British Heart Foundation instead of going to landfill.


Our School of Law runs and supports a range of pro bono initiatives. FreeLaw is a student-led service that provides free legal advice to the public. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Yorkshire Legal Awards. Find out more about the School of Law's pro bono work.

Ellen Battye

Doctors of the future transform lives with pioneering accountability project

Our medical students are improving people’s health and wellbeing as part of an initiative unique to Sheffield. Students also learn more about being an accountable health professional.

Socially responsible students and graduates

Our students and graduates have a big impact in the local community. Through volunteering, curriculum modules, fundraising and social enterprise, our students are making a big difference to the life and economy of our city.


We work with industry and the professions on research projects that change lives. These are just some of them.

Our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing sets a new standard for collaborations between academia and industry. It supports new business, boosts research and development, and drives economic growth.

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures takes a whole-picture approach to the problem of Earth’s dwindling resources, looking at everything from new ways to grow plants to changes in the way businesses operate.

The Sheffield Institute of International Development (SIID) is dedicated to social justice, environmental protection, and prosperity for all. Their work helps policy-makers and citizens make informed decisions.

Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) is one of the world's leading centres for research into MND, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. From basic neuroscience research to new therapies and clinical trials, SITraN’s effectiveness is rooted in its coordinated approach. By bringing together experts from multiple disciplines, SITraN can work on every aspect of a problem at once. Partnering with patients and carers makes it even stronger: a  multidisciplinary centre in constant dialogue with the people it wants to help.

Sheffield Neuroscience brings together doctors, scientists and engineers to fight neurological conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Their work gives hope to millions of people.

Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) brings together leading international researchers in the social sciences, policy makers, journalists and opinion formers to reassess and develop substantive proposals to respond to the political and economic challenges posed by the global financial crisis and its legacy.

At Sheffield Robotics, scientists, engineers and designers are pioneering new products that will transform every aspect of our lives: robots that can think and learn like humans.

The Humanities Research Institute (HRI) specialises in digital humanities: databases, websites and other projects that support academic research and public engagement with the arts and humanities.

Our sustainability research

Shaping the economy and boosting skills


AMRC apprentice

Sheffield universities team up to launch degree-level apprenticeships

Our pioneering degree-level apprenticeship programme will help plug a vital engineering skills gap in industry and provide an alternative route into higher education for young people.

Spotlight on apprenticeships


Our AMRC Training Centre provides advanced apprenticeship and higher-level skills training to power the manufacturing workforce of the future.

We're currently training over 500 young people in an advanced environment where planes, trains and supercars are designed and built.


Advanced manufacturing as a driver for growth

The University is at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, driving innovation and growth in the region and nationally through our advanced manufacturing expertise. We’re working to highlight to leaders and influencers the University’s role as a catalyst for economic growth and increased productivity.

Our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing sets a new standard for collaborations between academia and industry. It supports new business, boosts research and development, and drives economic growth.

Supporting business

Our partnerships with small and large businesses alike are driving innovation, productivity and growth across the city region.

Regional partnerships

Our collaborations with small and medium sized enterprises lead to growth and innovation.

Factory 2050

Partnership with McLaren to bring £100m boost to UK economy

We're working with global brands such as McLaren Automotive to create jobs in the Sheffield City Region and boost the economy. Our AMRC Training Centre will train apprentices to work in a new purpose-built McLaren Composites Technology Centre.

Boeing's Next-Generation 737

Comment: Why Boeing chose Sheffield

"The world's largest aerospace and communications company announced its first ever manufacturing facility in Europe. And where will this facility be? In a joint venture with its capability in Oregon in the USA, Boeing has chosen to develop Boeing Sheffield." Sir Keith Burnett discusses.


Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership

Sheffield City Region Vision

Sheffield Culture Consortium

UTC Sheffield

UTC Doncaster

How we engage with regional partners


Professor Koen Lamberts, University of Sheffield President and Vice-Chancellor, is a board member of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). LEPs are the government's model to promote economic development and provide the strategic leadership required to set out local economic priorities.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation is the interim chair of the Sheffield City Region's Science and Innovation Board which was established in 2014 to further drive economic growth in the region.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sheffield, chairs Renew Sheffield and is a member of the Sheffield Culture Consortium (past chair in 2016).


Composite loom, AMRC

Translational research and innovation facilities

Our translational research centres, led by industrial partners, boost levels of innovation and skills across different sectors.


How our partnerships with organisations and communities make an impact locally and globally.

A global university


We value international students and are passionate about making sure their contribution to our economy and culture is recognised.

That's why the University and Students' Union, led by our Vice-Chancellor and the Students' Union President, launched our #WeAreInternational campaign in 2013. So far, over 100 universities, education institutions and international organisations have backed it.

We're proud of what we've achieved so far with our #WeAreInternational campaign and are honoured that this was acknowledged by our ranking in the top 50 most international universities by the Times Higher Education.

The story so far

#WeAreInternational website



If the UK really does want to be open to the world, it could learn something from our universities. We are a place of hope and excellence because we are international.

University of Sheffield President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett


Supporting refugees and asylum seekers

We have a long-standing tradition and commitment of welcoming refugees as both students and academics to Sheffield, which became the UK’s first City of Sanctuary in 2012.

Six talented students found sanctuary in Sheffield this year thanks to the University’s Refugee Scholarship Scheme. They came from countries including Syria, Sri Lanka and Iran. The English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) is helping the students with the transition to British academic life.

In partnership with the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA) we are helping refugee academics who are in danger or exile to continue their careers in safety. Staff, students and the public raised over £50,000 for refugee academics and students through a sponsored Sheffield walk and a week-long coast to coast hike.

Tim Herrick, a Senior University Teacher in our School of Education, talks about his work with people from asylum seeker backgrounds in our inspirational academics video series: watch video.

How we marked Refugee Week 2016

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