York St John University, Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Chester signed a significant Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 26 April 2010, signalling future collaborative links between the institutions.
The MOU sets out to unite the three institutions on the basis of common foundations, resonance between institutional values and missions, and similarities of locations. It is anticipated that the MOU will encourage mutually beneficial relationships through the sharing of expertise and knowledge in the dimensions of widening participation, flexible learning and employer engagement, with further developed collaboration between the Universities and business. The agreement will also provide opportunities for the sharing of resources in order to benefit institutional reputations and to facilitate the national and international delivery of new qualifications and programmes.
The three-way partnership forms the basis of a long term strategic relationship between the institutions, who all share common values as church foundation universities. Based in walled cities and steeped in history, each institution brings a rich dimension to the new relationship whilst maintaining their own identity. The relationship has been fostered by several members of York St John University, including Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart Billingham and Jessica Grant, Director of Higher York.
Commenting on the new partnership Professor Billingham said: "York St John is delighted to join forces with these other very high quality, values-led, universities to widen opportunities for engagement with higher education by individuals, communities, and businesses of many types, in a range of economically and socially significant areas and new ways."
Professor Wright, Vice Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “I am delighted that the three Universities have agreed to work in partnership on a range of new projects that will be mutually beneficial for all. There are strong similarities between the Universities arising from our Church of England Foundations which will provide an enduring basis for the future work of the partnership. We look forward to continuing to work with York St John and Chester.”
Professor Wheeler, Vice Chancellor of the University of Chester and also Chair of the Cathedrals Group (Council of Church Colleges and Universities,) added: “Chester has historically enjoyed a close working relationship with York St John and Canterbury Christ Church. The MOU serves to demonstrate that by harnessing the ‘power of three’ we can use our similarities to complement our individual distinctiveness and pursue such tangible benefits as: creating a recognised career structure for the voluntary and community sectors and development opportunities for those entering the Ministry; fostering work-based learning; establishing more global projects; providing jointly accredited qualifications and investigating the scope for more Strategically Important and Vulnerable subjects (SIVs,) such as certain languages and science, technology, engineering and maths, to be offered at our institutions.”
The signing ceremony took place at York St John University in the presence of Executives from each of the partner institutions. Following the formal signing, documentation was exchanged and plans were put in place for future co-operation between the three institutions.