Boost to the region from universities.
OUR new coalition government is suggesting that it will govern in the national interest (ITNI) in order to focus energy during difficult economic times.
Whether this ideal can be reaS lised remains to be seen. The road ahead undoubtedly requires tough decisions to address the national deficit.
When push comes to shove, will our politicians be able to maintain the ITNI principle, and what does this mean for our regional interest? The week began with news of cuts, including some to universities.
The news directly affects this region, in which universities are a major resource, pulling in investment, talent and innovation.
The role of universities in nurturing entrepreneurial students and start-up companies which can make a difference to the regional economy is well-stated and understood by businesses.
But the longer-term benefits of universities, although less often aired, are equally important, and it is these that business and education are increasingly working together to protect and cultivate.
As more employers and employees become aware of universities' open doors, flexible training and the relevance of higher education to their future confidence, partnerships and take-up from regional companies to universities is growing.
The multiplier effect of higher education on the regional economy is an obvious boost for the North East.
Many thousands of students, research staff and lecturers working and living in the region create significant numbers of jobs, revenue and sales for local businesses.
Other financial rewards include the new technologies, start-up companies and research that can have important, indirect effects on industry. A research study into The University and the Creative Economy argues that higher education institutions play an important role in the three Ts of regional economic development - technology, talent and tolerance.
Although innovative technology and talent retention and attraction to a region are rightly recognised, the third T - tolerance - is not so widely acknowledged.
We are fortunate in having five strong universities in the North East.
The role they play in shaping our region and working in its interest during the months and years ahead cannot be understated.
Viv Kinnaird is dean of the faculty of business and law, the University of Sunderland.