James Ransom

May 27, 2021

New research on university partnerships for Universities UK

This was an interesting, data-driven project for Universities UK looking at the potential impact of university partnerships over the next five years. The training of key workers, the value of local regeneration projects, and business and community engagement are explored. All data is broken down by UK nation and English region.

Here’s the campaign page, the full report (PDF), and the press release. I also wrote pieces for Wonkhe and Yorkshire Universities for the launch.

The work has been picked up from Sunderland to Sussex, Durham to Dundee. There’s also coverage in the Telegraph (paywall).

I won’t summarise all the findings here; the above links do a good job conveying the key findings. But I will add two additional points.

First, too many studies like this lack methodological transparency. Whilst there are limitations to the projections detailed in this analysis, these are not hidden away. In addition, there’s a repository here with links to all data sources (all of which are open access), a detailed methodology with further contextual information, and some other potentially useful files for anyone looking to recreate the results, including a list of the universities within each region – information not included in all of the source data files. There’s also a CSV file of all the data tables in the report for anyone to use for future analysis.

Second, as Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner observe in their book Superforecasting:

Often forecasts are made and then… nothing. Accuracy is seldom determined after the fact and is almost never done with sufficient regularity and rigour that conclusions can be drawn.

I’ve borrowed the use of this quote from my friend Dr. Michael Weatherburn, who specialises in this field and has done interesting work assessing the accuracy of predictions years or decades after they were first made. With this in mind, I commit to reviewing the accuracy of the forecasts in this research in May 2026, and publishing the results here. So please check back here in half a decade!