A high-profile delegation from Birmingham City University (BCU) recently visited Chicago to address the global potential for cities to act as key drivers in learning, investment and economic growth.
Led by BCU Vice Chancellor, Professor Cliff Allan, the group met with over 70 representatives from Chicago’s public and private sectors under the banner of ‘Forum48,’ an international think-tank event designed to help cities become ‘smarter’ and more cost-efficient.
Speaking at the inaugural Forum48 conference, Prof Allan said:
“Birmingham City University is currently undergoing a transformational process, consolidating eight of its sites into three central locations, and putting knowledge-generation firmly at the heart of our city.
“If Birmingham is to remain competitive in today’s global economy it is vital we operate a ‘learning without walls’ strategy, engaging directly in social and economic growth, and delivering skilled graduates who will help companies succeed.”
BCU’s Professor Jo Andrews, who originated the Forum48 concept, believes the international partnership approach advocated by the group is a necessary answer to how cities like Birmingham face the economic challenges of the 21st century.
“Forum48 is bringing together experts from around the world to debate and share the latest best practice in education, leadership, economics and city management.
“The Chicago conference is the first step in a process which has already generated a unique partnership between all of Birmingham’s universities, Birmingham City Council and private sector leaders.
“We are beginning with debates focused on what universities can offer their cities,and one of our first actions will be to develop a unique arts and cultural exchange between schools in Chicago and Birmingham.”
Mike Murray, a Forum48 delegate and Birmingham City Council’s Lead Officer for International Links, added:
“The issues under review by Forum48 are of great importance to how we best manage our resources and uncover what cities can offer their populations as places to learn, work and live in. Developing an education quarter – as Birmingham City University is – makes a city hugely attractive for students, employers and other institutions alike.”
Further Forum48 conferences will take place over 2014 and beyond in locations throughout Europe, Africa and the Far East.
– Forum48 supporters include: Birmingham City Council – Aston University – Birmingham City University – University College Birmingham – University of Birmingham – Newman University – Business Birmingham – the Urban Land Institute – Centre for Cities
– Commercial partners include: Willmott Dixon – KPMG – EC Harris – Colliers International – Associated Architects and Squire Sanders