25 Years Anniversary

White Rose University Consortium Celebrates 25 Years


White Rose University Consortium

The White Rose University Consortium is a strategic partnership between the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, and was established towards the end of 1997, making 2022 the 25th anniversary. To celebrate this, and highlight future opportunities, there are internal communications at the Universities.

Staff Members at the Universities

You might be reading this with little knowledge of what White Rose does for the Universities, or how it could help you. A key aim with this message is to raise awareness of White Rose with staff members at Leeds, Sheffield and York, and as a ‘call to action’ to get involved and benefit from the partnership.

Origin and Evolution of White Rose

When White Rose was established, an initial focus was working together around innovation, as this was where the rationale for collaboration was strongest. The first multi-million pound win of external funding was to invest in spin-out companies from the Universities, including a company now listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Building on this initial success, White Rose has continued to evolve, and now has successful collaborations in topics that were not thought about back in 1997. Past and present initiatives include, pump-priming bottom-up research collaborations, strategically important doctoral training initiatives, collaboration between the libraries, plus many others. White Rose has helped secure in excess of £210m of external investment to support these. If you wish to find out more about White Rose initiatives, then please see our projects page here.

Future Plans and Opportunities

As part of a forward-thinking strategy, the White Rose Board (Vice-Chancellors) has agreed to three new strategic themes, to add to what already happens. We anticipate a pipeline of new White Rose initiatives, including opening up new opportunities where previously there has been little or no collaboration. The three strategic themes are below. The plan is for further internal communications on each of these strategic themes.

  • Strategic Theme: Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: One point to highlight here is that a new White Rose Equity in Leadership pilot project was launched in autumn 2022 and will use a collaborative approach to enhance the career development of staff members from underrepresented groups to support their progress into more senior roles.
  • Strategic Theme: PhD Collaboration: A highlight here is that White Rose doctoral training initiatives have already secured in excess of £100m of external investment. There is significant new activity in the pipeline to build on this. Current White Rose DTPs include ones funded by AHRC, ESRC and BBSRC.
  • Strategic Theme: Culture and Careers: One key aspect here is the White Rose Collaboration Fund, which invests in bottom-up research collaborations, with the aspiration to build larger and longer-term initiatives – importantly, this has been shown to boost research careers and promotes an inclusive and a productive research culture. There will be more on this opportunity in a future communication.

Vice-Chancellor Support

The three Vice-Chancellors form the White Rose Executive Board and ensure the focus on the right priorities, and investment in White Rose activity.


The current Chair of the Board, Professor Charlie Jeffery, University of York Vice-Chancellor, commented:

White Rose is a key strategic partnership and has delivered a breadth of successful collaborations over the past 25 years to support the Universities’ missions. This includes securing external investment of over £210m for collaborative initiatives. Over recent years, a real highlight has been sustained success in PhD level collaboration, with significant external investment won. Looking to the future, collaboration is more important than ever, and White Rose will continue to play a major role in delivering the Universities’ ambitions. An exciting development is adding three strategic themes for White Rose, including building powerful collaborations in completely new areas.”


Professor Simone Buitendijk, University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor, added:

“As the three Russell Group Universities of Yorkshire, there are real opportunities for the White Rose Universities to collaborate for the benefit of all. Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is of particular importance to our communities and I am delighted to see this become a strategic priority for the White Rose Consortium. We have already made huge progress in 2022, with the launch of the Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education in spring, as well as the White Rose Equity in Leadership initiative in autumn, and I am looking forward to building upon this further.”


Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said:

“The University of Sheffield is committed to building on the successful White Rose partnership with the Universities of Leeds and York. As the sector continually evolves, White Rose refocuses to pursue the most powerful collaboration opportunities, delivering a breadth of initiatives across the partners. The ambition is to now build the next major White Rose initiatives and deliver sustained success in new areas. I look forward to seeing this progress.”


Get Involved

We are always looking for the next exciting collaboration ideas to work on. If you have a White Rose collaboration idea (especially if it fits the new strategic themes), then please get in touch with us. We have years of experience exploring and developing collaborations and securing external investment.

Craig Walker, Director, White Rose University Consortium, November 2022

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