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Knowledge Exchange

Information about the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) at York St John University.

The aim of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) is to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public funding for knowledge exchange (KE) and to further a culture of continuous improvement in universities.

It will allow universities to better understand and improve their own performance, as well as provide businesses and other users with more information to help them access the world-class knowledge and expertise embedded in English Higher Education Providers.

Knowledge Exchange at York St John

York St John University has been educating and engaging with our local, regional and wider community since 1841. Located in the city centre, we are a genuinely 'community university', with a pivotal role in York's social, economic and cultural prosperity, and its international relationships and reputation. Our approach to knowledge exchange is underpinned by 3 key attributes:

  • Our enduring mission to promote fairness, social justice and social mobility through education
  • Strong, mutually-respectful relationships across partner services, businesses and organisations
  • Staff and students who play a proactive, practical role in civic life

Through these qualities and as an 'anchor institution' in York and Yorkshire, we offer students and stakeholders the knowledge and skills to adapt to a fast-changing world.

Strategy and governance

The University's 2026 Strategy outlines our mission, vision, values, and priorities. Public and community engagement is implicit in our mission and is operationalised through the Knowledge Exchange Plan 2023. In parallel, the Institute for Social Justice, launched in 2020), seeks to work with people, partners and communities in a manner that sees participation, implementation and change as vital parts of its mission. Driven by our commitment to fairness, we focus our expertise, talents, and creativity to advance knowledge, promote understanding and create educational opportunities for the benefit of all.

As an anchor institution in York, the Strategy reaffirms our aspiration to be a partner of choice within the region. Drawing on our 2019 successful submission for the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement's (NCPPE) Engage Watermark (Silver Award), 4 key drivers for action were identified:

  • Social mobility: Widening access to opportunities. Empowering marginalised communities. Improving life chances.
  • Creative and cultural capital: Building cultural capital within our communities. Using the arts and humanities to improve outcomes. Supporting local creative innovations.
  • York St John University as an anchor institution: Active in city and regional place-shaping. Ensuring education and research informs local socioeconomic development and decision-making.
  • Mental health and wellbeing: Positively impacting on population mental health. Tackling stigma. Building capacity to address mental health priorities.

For information on the University's governance, including our Executive Board and Board of Governors, visit our Leadership and Governance pages.

Leadership and governance


Our Knowledge Exchange Framework

The 3 narratives are as follows:

Institutional context

A brief statement (not more than 1 A4 page) setting out the geographic, economic and social context within which the higher education institution is operating, including an institutional contact point for KEF enquiries.

Public and Community Engagement

A statement of not more than 4 A4 pages:

  1. Identifying the public and community groups served by the institution and how their needs have been identified.
  2. A description of the targeted activities that are undertaken to meet these needs.
  3. Evidence that needs have been met and tangible outcomes achieved.

Local Growth and Regeneration

A statement of not more than 4 A4 pages:

  1. Identifying the geographical area(s) that the institution considers to be its local area.
  2. Explanation of how needs of the local area(s) that relate to economic growth and regeneration are identified.
  3. Description of the targeted activities undertaken by the institution to meet those needs and any outcomes achieved.

Letters of endorsement

"The City of York Council works collaboratively with YSJ reflecting their anchor organisation role in the city and contribution to civic and community engagement. We have many partnerships which seek to build a more connected, caring and compassionate city with students playing an active role. For example, YSJ is an active member of the People Helping People Volunteering and Social Action Partnership, which has been recognised internationally for its innovation.

The University also plays a significant role in working with the council to promote good mental health and wellbeing through its outstanding Converge programme and engagement within our Northern Quarter place based approach to mental health.

YSJ offers a key resource through its Community Mental Health Clinic enhancing community engagement arrangements.

YSJ also adopts a very modern approach to community engagement in the city, building on its geographical location in the heart of the city and acting as a significant asset supporting students to engage as active citizens and to address local skills needs."

Joe Micheli
Head of Commissioning (Early Intervention, Prevention & Community Development), City of York Council

"The Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) is intended to measure effective collaboration and knowledge exchange (KE) between universities and industry, business and other organisations. Universities are critical to driving local and regional growth in Yorkshire, and more so against the background of COVID-19 and the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

York St John University is an active and valued member of Yorkshire Universities (YU), in particular through its membership of the YU Board (at a Vice-Chancellor level) and the YU Industrial Strategy Group (ISG). The University played an instrumental role in shaping YU’s 2019-22 Strategy, which is based around three strategic priorities of ‘Ideas’, ‘Talent’ and ‘Communities’. The ISG, which brings together a diverse range of member institutions, is critical to the successful implementation of this placed-based Strategy

York St John is an important anchor institution in the City of York and wider region. YU convenes its members to share ideas on the role of ‘civic universities’ in supporting local communities by tackling economic and social inequalities. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities, particular economic and health disparities, and the University has played a major part in York St John’s engagement in both York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Leeds City Region LEP is welcomed by YU and our strategic partners, including both LEPs, private business, local authorities and other parts of the public sector, including health and social care.

As a member of ISG, York St John has helped to shape and develop local industrial strategies in York and North Yorkshire and Leeds City Region, wider strategic frameworks and more recently economic recovery plans in both parts of the region.the City of ork and wider region in supporting people, business and communities to chart a path towards recovery and rebuilding.

York St John’s engagement in both York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Leeds City Region LEP is welcomed by YU and our strategic partners, including both LEPs, private business, local authorities and other parts of the public sector, including health and social care. As a member of ISG, York St John has helped to shape and develop local industrial strategies in York and North Yorkshire and Leeds City Region, wider strategic frameworks and more recently economic recovery plans in both parts of the region.

Narrowing local and regional economic inequalities will depend, in part, on improving local and regional skills and aligning these to other economic interventions, including university research, and broader innovation and knowledge. York St John is leading the way in relation to joint working with the further education sector, as the first Yorkshire Institute of Technology illustrates. Other YU members are seeking to learn from the work of York St John and its partners here. Similarly, the innovative Degree Apprenticeship (DA) programmes that are offered by York St John highlights how knowledge is informing learning, which in turn is driving improved business and organisation productivity and performance. The flexible progression routes offered by DAs reflects the direction of travel for higher technical education, as set out the Prime Minister in his recent speech.

Finally, YU provides a vehicle for York St John to identify and share good practice in KE activity between regional higher education institutions. Underpinned by its members, YU strengthens connections between universities and business and local communities in order to identify solutions to local and regional economic challenges, which are of value to national government and other policy-makers in the region. York St John plays an important role within and across these areas, and its contribution towards YU is very much valued."

Dr Peter O'Brien
Executive Director, Yorkshire Universities

"On behalf of York Cares, I am delighted to endorse York St John University’s commitment to community engagement. Community engagement is at the heart of York Cares, we currently have over 30 employer members with whom we work in partnership to make an effective and strategic investment in the community. Our employers work in collaboration with City of York Council and York CVS to address city challenges by developing projects in response to evidenced community need, helping those who need it most.

York St John University has been a member of York Cares since 2009 and joined the Board in 2012, affording the university the opportunity to shape the strategic direction of the charity and lead the development of distinct initiatives.

York Cares priorities include engaging disadvantaged children in learning; inspiring young people to work harder and aim higher; supporting voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to become more sustainable; providing supported work experience for care experienced young people; contributing to the well-being of older people and improving the physical environment of the city.

York St John University has actively supported all of these initiatives. In particular, the university has played an instrumental role in the development of our Inspiring Minds programme for primary schools and has additionally sought opportunities to support the evaluation of the programme through research partnerships to better understand how it might contribute to social mobility.

York Cares values the immense contribution that York St John University makes not only to the charity but to the city as a whole, helping to make York a better place."

Holly Hennell
Manager, York Cares

"York College and York St John University work together on joint aims, in particular in the provision of education and skills for the City of York. Whilst both institutions have a wider reach, there is specific and focused collaboration in respect of the City of York.

York College is the lead member of a flagship Institute of Technology and York St John University is an anchor partner, providing specialist research expertise across the partnership, which includes members from across Yorkshire. This research supports the development of curriculum and qualifications, meeting employers’ skills needs and the economic priorities of the region.

York College and York St John University, along with one other university and FE college are core members of the City of York Skills Board, through which a ten year strategy for skills is in development. This strategy aims to address the immediate skills issues the City’s residents will require intervention in, arising from the pandemic, as well as those longer term investments required to support a sustainable economy.

At an institution to institution level, as the College’s main validating partner for degree level provision there are clear progression pathways for York College students to progress from level five study to level six, within the University."

Lee Probert
Chief Executive and Principal, York College

In the news

Read more about our work in the following news stories:

In response to the serious allegations of misconduct at the Confederation of British Industry, York St John University has suspended its membership with the CBI.

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