The Centre and the six beacons are funded by the UK Higher Education Funding Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust.
In February 2007, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) invited applications from higher education institutions to set up six collaborative centres and one co-ordinating centre under this four year pilot project. A total of up to £9.2 million was made available by the funders over four years for this pilot initiative.
Entitled the Beacons for Public Engagement, it was an initiative which brought the funding bodies together for the first time to establish a co-ordinated approach to recognising, rewarding and building capacity for public engagement.
Reasons for the initiative
To address the need for culture change within HEIs so that public engagement was supported across all subject areas and throughout the full range of activity by HEIs.
Who are the public?
Public engagement has been defined by the funders as
‘specialists in higher education listening to, developing their understanding of, and interacting with the public - non-specialists who do not currently have a formal relationship with an HEI through teaching, research or knowledge transfer.’
Who are the funders?
The Higher Education Funding Council for England
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is responsible for distributing public funds to universities and colleges, to support high quality education, research and related activities. HEFCE also has a leading role in developing and implementing policy for higher education, based on research and consultation.
Research Councils UK
Research Councils UK is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. The seven UK Research Councils are:
- Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
The Research Councils UK Science in Society Unit provides a gateway to the public engagement activities of the Research Councils, manages cross-council programmes and complements the individual work within each Council.
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) is an Assembly Government sponsored body responsible for administering funds made available by the Welsh Assembly Government in support of education in and research undertaken by HEIs and higher education courses at further education institutions.
The Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research in the UK and internationally spending around £650 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas.
The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council
The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) is a non-departmental public body responsible to - but operating at arm's length from - the Scottish Government.
V is an independent charity aiming to inspire a new generation of volunteers (aged 16-25) in England. It funds voluntary organisations to help create a culture where volunteering comes naturally – and where the benefits of volunteering are understood and celebrated.