Civic University Agreement

Our Civic University Agreement reaffirms our ongoing commitment to playing our part in the prosperity and wellbeing of the city of Derby and the county of Derbyshire.


History and heritage

The city of Derby, and wider county of Derbyshire, are steeped in history and civic heritage:

The University of Derby has itself long been civic – educating, innovating, creating, making and inspiring. It has roots tracing back to 1851 and the Diocesan Training Institution for School Mistresses.

However, we have never explicitly set out our civic intentions or articulated the positive overall impact the University, its staff and students make. It is through this agreement that we will make a public commitment to do this.

Pride and purpose

We are proud to be the only university in the city and county, and take seriously the role we have to play in ensuring the continued success and long-term prosperity of our ‘home’ and the communities, organisations, businesses and people within it.

The significant challenges brought on by Covid-19 reinforced the importance of partnership, collaboration and a clear, shared strategic vision of joining forces to not only successfully navigate through these unprecedented times, but to realise our own and collective long-term ambitions, post-pandemic.

Taking action

Through this Civic University Agreement, its signatories will work to drive forward the local recovery and regeneration of our city and county to secure a sustainable and prosperous future.

Together, we will help to channel aspirations, support our local communities, share knowledge, enhance the area’s overall offer and vibrancy, and ensure both the city and county are in the strongest possible position to capitalise on future opportunities.

This agreement, developed following extensive consultation, will have actions plans in place to deliver maximum impact and benefit, which will be reviewed and updated annually.

a three-to-five-storey red brick mill building sitting beside a sedate river
The Silk Mill in Derby, site of the world's first factory

Securing our future

Strategic growth and development

Together, we are going to drive forward strategic growth and development ambitions to secure a prosperous long-term economic future for our city and county.

We will achieve this by working in partnership to support the delivery of aspirational, long-term plans within the city and county - with Derby firmly positioned as a first-choice university. This will support local economic recovery and regeneration, the retention of graduate talent and strengthen Derby's position as a university city and a desirable destination for students.

Attracting investment

We will attract local and regional investment by successfully demonstrating how we can deliver on the government’s levelling-up agenda.

We will do this by positively profiling and positioning the city and county on a national level, combining knowledge, expertise and influence to develop a series of ‘shovel-ready’ projects aimed at transforming productivity and educational outcomes.

Research and innovation

We will put Derby at the centre of the government’s emerging strategy for place-based research and innovation.

We will use our applied research and expertise in areas such as low carbon, data science and social policy to make a positive economic and social impact in our region, through collaboration, knowledge exchange and support with innovation.

Skills requirements

We will address the regional skills gap by producing a pipeline of outstanding graduates required to fulfil future local skills requirements and providing support for businesses to upskill the existing workforce.

We will strengthen partnerships and understanding between educators, businesses and the third and public sector in order to align Derby’s academic offer with the area’s skills needs and the government’s Plans for Jobs agenda. We will ensure opportunities are available that enable students to develop their social and cultural capital, and ambition, delivering enhanced graduate outcomes. We will support our student and graduate innovators and entrepreneurs by providing incubation and enterprise support.

A safer place

We will make the city of Derby a safer place to live, study and work.

We will work in partnership with the City Council and police service to provide a new multi-agency base in the city centre to coordinate and manage crime-reduction activity and seek out joint project and research opportunities, as well as meaningful work experience for our students in the criminal justice sector.

modern glass-fronted university buildings, including a nine-storey block
The University of Derby

Driving ambition and positive change

Improving education outcomes

Together, we are going to improve the attainment and education outcomes of our young people, supporting them to realise their aspirations, and ensuring those wanting to learn and develop can do so, with clear progression pathways into jobs of the future.

We will achieve this by collectively committing to the ongoing development and delivery of engaging educational initiatives that build on the progress and impact achieved through the work of the Derby Opportunity Area, the University’s leadership of DANCOP (Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Collaborative Outreach Programme) and its Widening Access team.

Our future teachers

We will play a key role in ensuring that high-quality education is delivered and maintained throughout our communities by attracting exceptional students to the city and county, and training, retaining, and supporting the next generation of teachers.

We will do this by maintaining our outstanding reputation for delivering high-quality education courses and CPD (continuing professional development), and working with education partners to create opportunities that support the ambitions of our future teachers and leaders.

Social impact

We will make a positive impact on society, creating opportunities for, and supporting the ambitions of our local communities and the third (voluntary) sector.

We will do this by developing a University-led volunteering programme that mobilises a team of student and staff volunteers and responds specifically to local community need, delivering mutual benefit.

Representing our diverse communities

We will celebrate diversity and recognise the challenges individuals face and the significance and impact of inclusion within our communities, businesses, and organisations.

We will embed equity, diversity, and inclusion into staff recruitment practices to ensure the workforce is representative of our student populations and local communities, as well as challenging barriers to inclusion and influencing positive change. We will take a bold anti-discriminatory, anti-racism stance when developing University policy.

Wellbeing best practice

We will commit to sharing best practice related to staff development and wellbeing activity so that collectively we enhance the city and county’s workforce.

We will do this by exploring the opportunities for initiating secondments and streamlining the process for the sharing of best practice between organisations, bringing mutual benefits to business, as well as supporting the development of our people.

students in a workshop engaging with staff
students work on puzzles as a DANCOP person hands out sweets

Making a positive environmental impact

Green businesses

Together, we are going to help businesses to incorporate green practices into their operations, supporting the city’s ambition to become the UK’s centre of excellence for future fuel technologies and the region’s move towards a net-zero-carbon economy.

We will achieve this by developing effective strategies and raising awareness of the green initiatives available to local businesses and organisations, as well as providing opportunities, through knowledge exchange, innovation activity and research projects, to collaborate with Derby’s researchers.

Sustainable transport

We will create a more sustainable University transport infrastructure that benefits the wider community, improves mobility and air quality, and reduces congestion.

We will launch the University’s Sustainable Travel Plan, which aligns with and supports the city’s Local Travel Plan 2011-2026 and promotes a modal shift towards more sustainable travel options. This will be underpinned by a communications and engagement plan designed to change the behaviour of staff, students, and the local community.

Sustainable tourism

We will enable the region to retain the economic and social advantages of tourism while reducing or mitigating any negative impacts on the natural, cultural, or social environment.

We will do this by adopting a Sustainable Development Tourism approach that combines our unique heritage and cultural assets with the innovative thinking of leading stakeholders and a dynamic SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) community. This will include the development of sustainable travel projects that better link the county’s tourism assets and reduce carbon emissions, fully embedding sustainability into our visitor offer.

Protecting wildlife

We will protect the wildlife on University sites and increase biodiversity throughout the city and county.

We will do this by implementing new biodiversity action plans across all University sites and through partnership working to ensure a collaborative approach and shared commitment to environmental sustainability.

autumnal trees beside an ornamental lake full of water fowl and gulls
Markeaton Park in Derby

Supporting health and wellbeing

Using our expertise

Together, we are going to leverage our research and practitioner expertise in all aspects of health, social, psychological, and economic wellbeing for the benefit of local stakeholder groups and communities.

We will achieve this by working in partnership with key stakeholders across the health and social care economy to ensure we are collectively networked and connected to local priorities and needs, and in a position to respond.

Creating a skilled workforce

We will work closely with health and social care providers and the community to create a highly skilled workforce that is fit for today and prepared for the future.

We will do this by ensuring that all health, psychology and social care courses at Derby are developed and delivered by expert academic and practitioner staff, in collaboration with employers and care providers, to deliver an agile, competent, and professional workforce.

Using our influence

We are going to be a key influencer of policy, regulation, and practice at regional and national level to assure ‘future fit’ health, psychology and social care professionals, high-quality education and a safe, compassionate health and care workforce.

We will do this by advocating for and influencing the sector through active board membership of professional regulatory bodies and NHS Trusts, including the Council of Deans of Health, Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Health and Care Professions Council and the British Psychological Society.

Community need

We will support, respond and promote the health and social care needs of our local communities.

We will do this by collaborating with statutory and third-sector stakeholders in health, psychology, and social care to enable and support applied, impactful research and knowledge-exchange activities that enhance wellbeing. We will create opportunities for students to benefit from a broad range of experiences which will give a better understanding of the communities they will care for.

The power of sport

We will use the power of sport to engage, unite and drive positive change within the local community.

We will maximise legacy opportunities associated with major sporting events and provide support to partners who enhance levels of physical activity and sporting success through the county, working with them to use sport and physical activity to widen participation and access within the community.

a city street of older red brick buildings and mature trees in paved areas
The Wardwick in Derby city centre

Investing in culture as a driver for change

Recovering from Covid-19

Together, we are going to support the sustainability of the city and county’s arts and cultural organisations following the impact of Covid-19 on the sector and advocate for the value it adds.

We will do this by working in partnership on funding developments and knowledge-exchange initiatives, ensuring all activity is relevant to the community through co-creation and education, underpinned by research, and aligned to the area’s key agendas.

Driving engagement

We will champion the ambition of the arts as a driver for excellence within education and positive change within communities, supporting people from all backgrounds and areas to engage with education and learn new skills.

We will use the platforms already established, for example This is Derby and S.H.E.D, to work with staff and students to develop projects, including a new young people-led cultural organisation, that enhance public engagement and the student experience.

Community benefit

We will drive community benefit through the arts and culture, as well as increasing the presence of student practice within the city and county.

We will do this by creating opportunities for students to volunteer within the cultural sector via commissions and placements, public engagement workshops and events, generated via the Strategic Culture Group, S.H.E.D and the Civic Lab.

Creative and cultural ecology

We will help to grow and develop the creative and cultural ecology of the city and county.

We will do this by sharing knowledge and expertise with cultural organisations and supporting early career practitioners and graduates to establish businesses and commercialise ideas.

a diverse of people including children engaging with the S.H.E.D project
Our S.H.E.D project

Our signatories