A Cabinet Office minister has praised the way the University of Northampton’s new campus will have a positive social impact on the local community – and believes it can be a blueprint for similar major construction projects across the UK.
Waterside Campus, which opens in September 2018, will provide state-of-the-art academic facilities for 15,000 students, residential facilities for 1,200 students and leisure facilities open to the community.
Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society, visited the University’s Northampton Innovation Centre on Thursday 14 January, where he found out more about the institution’s record in social innovation and delivering social impact – including the measures it is taking to ensure Waterside has a positive social impact on the town.
These include agreeing social impact plans with suppliers; appointing contractors who commit to employ a percentage of people from the local area, including apprentices; setting up student work placements with supply chain providers; increasing the skills of their workers; and using small and medium-sized suppliers from within a 30-mile radius of Northampton.
Mr Wilson said: “I have been talking to the University about the social investment it is carrying out in the building of its new £330m campus.
“This social investment is embedded in the contracts being signed by the University.
“It means there is an investment in people and in local businesses, and the local workforce will benefit from such contracts.
“This approach is something which the Government is trying to encourage a number of organisations to take up.
“What the University of Northampton is doing is making a massive difference in terms of skills, and I believe is the first university in the country to do this.
“What I will be doing is keeping an eye on what the University of Northampton has done, and is doing, and making it a case study so it can be repeated elsewhere in the country.”
Professor Simon Denny. Director of Research, Impact and Enterprise, added: “The Minister was genuinely interested in what we are doing at the University, and was clearly impressed with the seriousness and ambition with which we set out to ‘ do good stuff’. I am delighted he wanted more details of what we are doing.”
During his visit, Mr Wilson also met PhD graduate, Dr Abide Zenenga, who has set up a school for children with special needs in Birmingham. Dr Zenenga explained to the minister how the University’s Enterprise Club, which offers business advice to staff and students, supported Abide with funding for the venture.
Did you know? We’re dedicated to making the world a better place, and we encourage our staff and students to make changes to the world
In 2014-15, the University of Northampton achieved a number of positive social impact milestones, including:
- delivering over £800,000-worth of extra-curricular student volunteering to the local community
- helping more students benefit from a university education, whatever their personal circumstances, with 42 per cent of full-time undergraduate entrants from disadvantaged groups (the national mean is 33 per cent)
- re-using, recycling and composting 70 per cent of waste, with food waste used to generate electricity
- securing more than £150,000 of research income to deliver social impact
- the introduction of a social levy initiative to encourage ‘buying to do good’
- the launch of the Innovation Centre for entrepreneurs and social ventures seeking to deliver social impact, value and change
- the University’s Community Interest Company, Northamptonshire Enterprise Social Enterprise (NESE), supporting 3,172 unique clients with 15,300 interventions.
To find out more about our passion for social enterprise, visit our webpage.