Anchor institutions in Wigan have today (17 October) signed a civic agreement with Edge Hill University, recognising the pivotal roles they play in supporting economic development and enhancing the lives of those within the borough.

Leaders from the University, Wigan Council, Wigan and Leigh College and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have formally launched the exciting new Edge Hill Civic Agreement.

It places Edge Hill as the flagship university of the borough for Wigan.

Dr John Cater, Edge Hill University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Every year, Edge Hill receives around 1,000 applications from Wigan residents, and there has been a long-standing relationship between the University and the schools and colleges in the borough for a long time.
“Having us recognised as the university of the borough is a great step forward for us and for the people of Wigan, enabling us to raise educational aspirations and improving their employment life chances.”

The landmark deal cements the already strong partnership working between the four organisations and builds on the Wigan Education and Skills Partnership (WESP), which was established to respond to the levelling up agenda to boost education, skills and opportunities in the borough.

Specific career pathways have been identified within the agreement which will improve life chances for Wigan residents and address the needs of the borough. They focus on four key areas: education, health and social care, digital industries and business engagement.

Council leader David Molyneux MBE said: “Since 2021, the Wigan Education and Skills Partnership has focused on providing clear and supportive pathways to employment in sectors vital to our future prosperity; increasing aspiration and opportunity and helping Wigan Borough residents to develop the skills they need within our current and future local labour market.
“At our September Cabinet meeting, my Cabinet colleagues and I approved the development of a Civic University Agreement with Edge Hill University, in partnership with Wigan and Leigh College and the hospital trust. This agreement further solidifies our partnership and places Edge Hill University as the anchor university for Wigan borough; complimenting Wigan and Leigh College’s higher-level curriculum offer and creating a wraparound educational, skills development and employment offer that the borough can be proud of. We are incredibly committed to this partnership and excited about the opportunities it will provide to Wigan borough residents and to the wider Greater Manchester economy and skills portfolio.”

The partnership has already achievement great successes, including the opening of the Centre for Advanced Technical Studies in 2022, which offers dedicated space and facilities to develop future health professionals, civil engineers and digital and cyber specialists and provides facilities for skills programmes being developed by the WESP.

Anna Dawe, Principal of Wigan & Leigh College, said:

“We are delighted that the work of the Wigan Education and Skills Partnership is now formalised through the Civic University Agreement. Educational opportunity is better served when higher education and further education work together and this agreement enables us to do this with a high quality local university and wider partners. This agreement complements the HE offered through our own University Centre and will broaden the HE curriculum delivered within the borough.”

The agreement also aligns with the ambitions described in the refreshed WWL Trust Strategy.

Mark Jones, Chair of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to endorse this Civic University Agreement. As a fellow anchor institution, and the biggest employer in the Wigan borough, we value the impact made by Edge Hill University locally.

“Through our partnership with Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh College and this agreement, we not only give potential employees the skills and values they need to work in modern healthcare but create pathways to allow residents to realise their potential and ensure well-paid and fulfilling employment for local residents.”

Find out more about the Civic University Agreement

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