The Engage Watermark follows a rigorous four stage assessment process, with the exact detail of the process dependent on the level of award being applied for.
Stage 1: Application form
Institutions choose the level of award they would like to apply for. They then submit an application form to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), providing evidence of their current support for public engagement. Given institutions tend to approach this in different ways, guidelines are provided about the types of evidence required for each aspect of the assessment process.
Stage 2: EDGE tool assessment
The NCCPE will develop a bespoke EDGE tool survey for the institution. The applicant will complete an initial EDGE tool assessment. Following this, the survey will be sent to staff, students, and partners of the institution. The survey will provide broad perspectives on current support for public engagement offered by the institution.
Stage 3: Site visit
Following assessment of the information shared, and any subsequent follow up, there will be a site visit. Two assessors will visit the university and meet with key members of staff. Depending on the level of award, this may include the Vice Chancellor; PVC for Research; public engagement lead; heads of department; researchers; students; and external partners. These interviews provide an opportunity to augment the data sent in by the institution, and tell a more nuanced story about the engagement support offered by the university and their commitment to taking this work forward.
Stage 4: Action planning
After this period of data capture, the NCCPE will produce a synthesis report including what is currently working well and providing a set of ‘highlight’ issues, discussion prompts and recommendations. This will include insight into how the institution compares with other higher education institutions; how far its strategic ambitions are impacting on practice; and a set of prompts to inform future planning. These will be reviewed in a meeting between the NCCPE team and the lead applicant and other senior leaders.
Following this meeting the institution will produce an action plan detailing how they will respond to the findings and recommendations; their plan for the next three years; and how this will be resourced and monitored.
The information provided and the action plan will be formally assessed by the NCCPE to inform the level of award. The Award will be made at the NCCPE’s annual Engage Conference. Award winners will also be supported to arrange their own events to celebrate their success, supported by the NCCPE. The assessment process is tailored to the level of award applied for. Institutions who do not evidence sufficient support for that award level will be considered for a different level of award.