13th May 2016

West Midlands Combined Universities (WMCU) – FAQs

Q: What is the purpose of this partnership?

  • WMCU is a formal and legal partnership between Birmingham City University, Coventry University and the University of Wolverhampton – three leading West Midlands universities who are joining forces to meet the demands of devolution across the region.
  • Our vision is for the three universities to share assets and expertise to build on the impressive established strengths we already have individually to collectively make an economic impact of a scale and reach previously unseen across the region.

Q: Who are the beneficiaries?

  • Ultimately, the beneficiaries will be the residents and businesses of the West Midlands through improving skills, job opportunities and productivity, which in turn raises earnings and opportunities.
    The partnership is being established to increase our collective impact in addressing some of the biggest challenges the region faces – if we get this right, which we will, the impact will be transformative.

Q: What exactly are you going to do?

    With a combined turnover of £600m, a collective staff base of 8,500 and 70,000 students between us we intend to:

  • fill predicted nursing shortages in the region by offering flexible, region-wide courses tailored to WMCA skills needs, and with greater access to facilities;
  • close the skills gap in the automotive sector by working with local businesses to provide higher apprenticeships alongside existing degree programmes;
  • retrain current industry sectors with new skills and in new technologies, as well as inspire young people to follow careers in these areas;
  • encourage cross-pollination of knowledge and ideas through applied research collaborations to bring forward innovations in priority sectors;
  • as the partnership develops, we could also create brand new joint offerings, such as doctoral hubs or regional training programmes

Q: Why now?

  • Regional devolution is a reality, the Northern Powerhouse is getting into its stride with local universities there bringing their expertise to the table- here in the West Midlands the Combined Authority is coming into operation shortly.
  • We believe this region can make a step change to transform the economic prosperity for its residents and businesses and that the three universities , all of whom have established track records in making a difference through education, skill enhancement and applied research can contribute significantly.

Q: Is a new University being created?

  • No. Each university will retain its distinctiveness and control over its core functions of awarding degrees and undertaking research.
  • This is simply the natural extension of joint work we already do – by entering into a legal agreement we put it on a more formal footing and signal to the market our ambitions and belief in the region’s future success.
  • Our individual commitment remains to our own students, staff and communities – our collective commitment is to the region.

Q: Why these three universities? Why not others?

  • Our three universities already have a strong track record of working together in the region. We have similar outlooks, focuses and visions.
  • Representing the three core cities between us we cover the whole region.

Q: How will you work with other university groupings in the region?

  • We will each continue to be members of other university groupings and work through these as appropriate.

Q: Are there opportunities for staff and students to get involved?

  • Absolutely. This is a wonderful opportunity for them. For students, it will allow much easier access to each other institution’s facilities, opening up access and better aligning with their learning styles and home lives. For staff, the partnership will make it easier to collaborate, share ideas and access each other institution’s assets – avoiding duplication and leveraging scale.

Q: What are the next steps in the development of WMCU?

  • Our three Vice-Chancellors will be meeting regularly to take this partnership forward, focusing initially on specific projects aimed at closing crucial skills gaps and building on the proven track record of all three universities for enterprise and innovation. We anticipate there will be significant opportunities for staff and students to engage directly in the work of WMCU in the months and years ahead.