Newcastle’s two universities are launching a new partnership that aims to support the economic and social recovery of the region in the post-Covid world.

Newcastle and Northumbria universities have signed the Collaborative Newcastle Universities Agreement, saying that it will bring together expertise from both institutions and allow them to work together on projects to benefit the region.

Together the two universities have more than 10,000 staff and 50,000 students, and they have been working more closely than before during the pandemic.

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Their partnership will see the creation of a new learning centre designed to support more young people in Newcastle to fulfil their potential and get a place at university.

Prof Chris Day, vice-chancellor and president of Newcastle University said: “We know that by working together we can be greater than the sum of our parts, providing greater benefits to communities not just to support economic and social recovery, but to build a sustainable and more inclusive future.

“The pandemic has shown us what we can achieve when organisations pull together, drawing on our collective strength and expertise to take us through the crisis and build back stronger and fairer.

“As universities – and major employers – we play a key part in this, both through our world-class research, our students and through the contribution we make to our local communities and the regional economy.”

Prof Andrew Wathey, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Northumbria University, said: “Given the challenges of the last 18 months, it has never been more important that we work collectively to take on the opportunities and challenges of a post-pandemic future.

Prof Andrew Wathey is stepping down as vice-chancellor of Northumbria University
Prof Andrew Wathey is stepping down as vice-chancellor of Northumbria University

"This agreement combines the strengths of Newcastle’s two research-rich universities, together with the other key institutions in the city, working together to address the needs of Newcastle and the North East.”

Last week the Nothern Accelerator – a scheme involving both universities, and also Durham, Sunderland and Teesside, to help turn academic research into commercial companies – won £3.6m in Government funding to extend its work.

The new formal agreement between the two universities is a part of Collaborative Newcastle, a new partnership bringing together the NHS, local government, higher education, voluntary and community sector to work in collaborative new ways to improve health, wealth and wellbeing for everyone in the city.

The partnership aims to work in areas such as improving public health, helping the city become net zero and helping young people.

Newcastle City Council chief executive Pat Ritchie said: “I am pleased to welcome the Universities Agreement which further strengthens the work of the innovative Collaborative Newcastle partnership.

“Both universities play critical roles in our city, they are world leading organisations that support and inspire residents from across Newcastle. They attract students from across the world to be part of our diverse communities, are a major employer and provide research and insight into many of our major projects. The combined strength of these institutions will help build on the established Collaborative Newcastle partnership and broaden the scope of the work.”

And Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals, said: “I’m delighted to see the launch of the Collaborative Newcastle Universities agreement today, the universities’ commitment to Collaborative Newcastle highlights our collective determination to tackle the health inequalities in our region.

“Throughout the pandemic we have worked closely with our partners across the city to manage the impact of covid-19 and these partnerships will be instrumental in the coming months as we look to the future beyond the pandemic.”