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The engaged university: turning words into action

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The decade ahead offers significant opportunities and challenges for universities’ engagement with society. Universities’ role within civil society is being scrutinised both from within the sector and by civil society; place-based strategy, inequality and impact are all rising up the agenda.

In advance of the forthcoming spending review, University College London and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement approached me to help gather intelligence about how universities are framing the strategic value of Public and Community Engagement (P&CE).

I conducted over forty confidential interviews with senior university leaders and public engagement managers, both nationally and internationally. I also undertook corresponding desk research into institutional strategies and exemplar projects. A crucial part of my brief was to create an inclusive conversation around the project using stakeholder events.

The final report sets out the evolving strategic case for public engagement. It covers:

  • The case for public engagement
  • Current excellence in how universities are commissioning public engagement and embedding it into their institutional infrastructure
  • How universities are articulating its value
  • Effective resource strategies.

This work provides individual PE professionals with evidence and insight to leverage internal support. It identifies innovative practices which can be scaled and applied across different contexts.

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