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Harper Adams University work recognised in report on the impact of smaller and specialist universities

Posted 27 September

"Specialist Universities are essential to realise solutions to the challenges facing a dynamic world. They are targeted and work in concert with industry often at a very practical level."

A new report from GuildHE demonstrates that small and specialist universities – including Harper Adams - are well-positioned to stimulate the growth of key priority economies such as agriculture in a landscape which includes the Government’s levelling up agenda and the plan to increase investment in research and development to 2.4 per cent of the GDP by 2027.

Small and specialist universities are innovative, agile industry experts supporting the economic development within their communities and specific sectors in the economy Frequently located in smaller towns, on the edge of cities, or in rural or coastal locations, many also carry out high-impact, practical research and knowledge exchange.

Today GuildHE - which represents 58 universities and colleges in the UK - launches the Building the Jigsaw Report, an in-depth study of the key role of smaller and specialist universities in their local, national and international economies.

The report uses a combined experimental heat mapping and case studies approach to highlight the local, national and international economic impact of smaller and specialist UK higher education institutions. It brings new evidence to the sector by capturing knowledge exchange activities not always apparent in traditional statistics and often in unexpected locations throughout the UK.

Eleven UK higher institutions, including Harper Adams University, contributed to the report which highlights five case studies. The studies reveal a surprising number of initiatives and collaborations being undertaken by smaller and specialist institutions that are driving impact, prosperity, and actively addressing local, regional, national and even international, economic, social and cultural challenges.

The Harper Adams case study focuses on the Hands Free Farm project – which has researched and tested robotic farming proving that it is possible to plant, grow and harvest crops autonomously; and shared its findings with stakeholders throughout the world.

Harper Adams Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Lee, said: "Specialist Universities are essential to realise solutions to the challenges facing a dynamic world. They are targeted and work in concert with industry often at a very practical level. This is exemplified in the work at Harper Adams working to research and deliver, through education, solutions to the greatest anthropogenic challenge facing the planet vis-à-vis feeding a growing population within planetary boundaries.”

Anthony McClaran, GuildHE Chair and Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University Twickenham said: “Many small and specialist universities are innovative, agile industry experts that carry out high impact, practical research and knowledge exchange. This important report brings new evidence to the sector and a new approach to capturing the local, national and international economic impact of their work.”

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