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The Catalyst Fund economic impact study also examined the impact of HEFCE’s Strategic Development Fund (SDF), from which the Catalyst Fund was developed. This blog from University of Salford showcases a project which benefitted from SDF investment.

A new location for new facilities

The move of the BBC to MediaCityUK (MCUK) signalled a new beginning for regional broadcasting, for the City of Salford, and also for the Manchester Docks, which had lain derelict for over 20 years. When the Duke of Edinburgh opened the University of Salford’s MCUK campus in 2011, he positioned us at the heart of one of the most exciting regeneration projects in the UK and in close proximity to the Lowry, the Imperial War Museum and a new locus of creative and media industries to rival London.

With generous investment from HEFCE’s Strategic Development Fund, the University of Salford was able to provide outstanding facilities for staff and students at the heart of an international cluster of media broadcast and production companies.

Cutting edge teaching at MCUK

Six years later, we have delivered on our promise to provide a combination of research and innovation partnerships with a steady roll-out of top trained production talent to join the creative industries workforce.

In September 2015, the Studio for International Media and Technology was launched at MCUK as an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Schools of Arts and Media and Computing Science and Engineering to bring together content production and digital technology. The move has hugely accelerated cross-disciplinary collaborations between students working on industry briefs and enabled them to achieve higher standards of work which is regularly judged and showcased at professional level. The Studio was the prototype for the Digital and Creative Industry Collaboration Zone, the first of four thematic zones which form the base of the university’s strategy for industry collaboration and real world learning.

The impact of our MCUK location on our individual programmes of study has been profound with established programmes such as the BA in Television and Radio attracting hundreds more applications each year. The cohort has trebled in size within two years, from 60 to 200 students. Our BA in Journalism is also based at our MCUK facilities, and is the largest in the country to be accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (circa 400 students). The launch in 2016 of a new BA in Film Production took on 120 students in its first year alone and is set to become a national powerhouse for cutting edge creative production.

Building new partnerships – in the UK and overseas

A shortlist of research partnerships reads like a Who’s Who and What’s What for the future of digital media, and helps keep the UK at the cutting-edge of the industry.  For example, the European FascinatE project worth €9.35 million focused on an end-to-end future broadcast system in collaboration with the BBC, Technicolor, Fraunhofer HHI, Alcatel Lucent, Arri, Interactive Institute, Joanneum Research, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, TNO, and Softeco Sismat.

The university’s role includes leading a focus on UK future media policy. Our Nations and Regions Media conferences have attracted some of the most prominent industry and government policy makers in broadcasting. For example, Karen Bradley, UK Secretary of State for Culture, made the policy announcement on the future of Channel 4 at our event in March 2017. Other recent keynotes have included: Ed Vaizey, UK Culture Minister; Sharon White, Chief Executive of Ofcom; and Harriet Harman, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Culture Secretary.

MediaCityUK is a magnet for international partnerships that reach across HE, industry and government overseas. Being located alongside global brands has attracted international partners from Malaysia, North America, China and Russia. In the Malaysian market, for example, the Media City offer brought 60 academics in 2013-14 to be trained in animation and TV production via sponsorship by the then Malaysian Multi-Media Development Corporation. This led to a visit by the Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multi-Media and the board of Telecom Malaysia, resulting in a consultancy at the Malaysian government’s national broadcaster in 2016.

Significant international educational partnerships include our joint programme in digital media with the Luxun Academy of Fine Art in Dalian, one of the highest ranking art academies in China. Students and staff from China, USA and Russia have attended our summer schools and semesters at the University of Salford. We have also received government sponsorship such as the China Scholarship Council, which is funding doctoral film students from the world-renowned Beijing Film Academy.

A front seat view of industry issues

Our presence at MediaCityUK gives us a front seat view of all industry issues, and exposes us to the realities of cultural and political change. We have worked hard to tackle the issue of diversity and have used our sponsorship of the Asian Media Awards to work in the community with schools hosting discussions on working in the media and also inviting schools and colleges to MCUK for similar events.

The media industry is now tougher and more competitive than at any time in its history; nothing but the best will do for our students and our academic and research practices. We are privileged that our MediaCityUK base gives us that edge.

Find out more information about the University of Salford’s School of Arts & Media

Read more about the Catalyst Fund

Browse other blog posts on projects using HEFCE funding

Photograph provided by the University of Salford