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Global HE unites to solve urban challenges

Universities from around the world have come together this week to highlight the need to work collaboratively to help solve challenges in their urban environments.

The participants of the WC2 symposium met at Cass Business School in London. Photo: The PIE News

In 1990, 37% of people worldwide lived in a city, and the figure has now risen to over half the world’s population

The WC2 network’s inaugural symposium, which took place in London, saw the eleven member universities meet to share and consider the challenges faced by urban areas.

“Universities need to say that they’re open for that kind of business”

More people than ever are living in and around an urban metropolis. In 1990, 37% of people worldwide lived in a city, and the figure has now risen to over half the world’s population.

The seminars were based on five areas of focus: transport, health, business and entrepreneurship, global cultures and sustainability.

Stanton Newman, chair of the WC2 network, underlined how important it is for universities around the world to not only collaborate with each other, but to work with other bodies in their cities.

“People don’t know the city government expectation of universities, and universities don’t really know what their mission is and how they can interact, so there’s a whole level of engagement between the two,” he told The PIE News.

“That’s why in particular it’s all around what government thinks, what the examples of developments have been and indeed what universities think and where universities are.”

The network was created in 2010 with the aim to bring the universities together for research.

Newman said that UK universities need to learn from their international partners when it comes to this collaboration.

“Universities need to say that they’re open for that kind of business and I’m not sure they are saying that,” he said.

“But the city government needs to see the university not just as an agent of employment, which is often the mantra you hear today coming across.”

“Are you exploiting what the university has in the best ways you can for the city?” he added.

Newman said that in the future, the network will hope to facilitate joint degrees for students to take across different institutions.

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