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.
  • We will work with all partners, across all sectors where working as a partnerhsip of 3 Universitites brings significant added value to the intended outcome.
  • We will help partners to better understand the impact that Universities can make on developing a regional economy and society.

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.
  • We will also offer our assets to regional partners including the West Midlands Combined Authority to support the delivery of key strategies – like devolution deals and other negotiations with Government.
  • 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 are you going to do?

    • With a combined turnover of almost £1bn, a collective staff and student base of close to 100,000 between us we intend to:
  • fill predicted health and social care worker shortages in the region by offering flexible, region-wide courses and with greater access to facilities;
  • close the skills gap in the advanced manufacturing 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;
  • invest upwards of £1bn in our intitutions to increase technology led education

Q: Why now?

  • Regional devolution has happened, and looks set to continue through Government initiatives like Levelling Up. Institutions like ours can bring enormous value to the private and public sector in the region if harnessed correctly. WMCU will help to do this.
  • 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.
  • We are all true Anchor Institutions, fulfilling a number of civic roles in our respective cities.
  • Our student base is predominantly drawn from our local communities, some of which requires special support which we feel that only Universitites like ours will offer. We share this important mission.
  • Representing the three core cities between us we cover the whole region.

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

  • WMCU is distinctive in that it focusses on actions and ‘doing things’, it isnt a University Policy or networking group.
  • The remit of the partnership means it can have a broad set of partners but work on very specific themes which we can collectively bring the most value to.

Q: What sort of projects will WMCU work on

  • WMCU will work on a range of projects from multi-million pound partnership bids into national funding programmes through to impact evaluation research into very specific issues (like COVID 19).
  • We will work closely with industry to develop new course content and support the acceleration of innovative methods of delivering training for partners.