Placing greater onus on the meaning and value of the local has been one positive dimension of a pandemic largely devoid of any redeeming features. Where out globalised artworld has previously encouraged a diffusion of engagements across assorted places, Covid has forced a rethink on the priorities of where we choose to engage and with whom. While the focus on local community is important, a related imperative to build connections with allied organisations across the arts and academia is similarly key. The nascent agenda of universities competing with one another, rather than operating as a supporting network looks increasingly untenable. This paper will examine the potential of pan-university engagement in research and teaching as a new fundamental dimension of future tertiary education. Using an in-development public art research collaboration between Deakin University, RMIT, Victoria University and the City of Hobsons Bay as a case study, this paper will seek to outline what future research collaborations across government and academic registers might look like and in particular how students can develop new learning strategies through industry-focused professional practice opportunities.