What does an engaged university look like?

An engaged university embeds public engagement into its work.

An engaged university does not treat public engagement as an 'add on' or fringe activity.  It embeds public engagement into the way it approaches its work. Typically, engaged universities will have activities in place which incorporate public engagement into their research, knowledge exchange, teaching, and social responsibility:

To achieve this embedding, universities need to attend to the following challenges:

Sense of purpose

An engaged university has embedded a commitment to public engagement in its institutional mission and strategy, and champions that commitment at all levels:

  • It creates a shared understanding of the purpose, value, meaning and role of public engagement to staff and students and embeds this in its strategy and mission
  • It supports leaders and champions across the organisation who embrace public engagement
  • It communicates consistent, clear messages to validate, support and celebrate it, and ensures open and two-way communication with members of the public and community organisations


  • It recognises and rewards staff involvement within recruitment, promotion, workload plans and performance reviews, and celebrates success with awards or prizes
  • It supports and coordinates the delivery of public engagement to maximise efficiency, target support, improve quality, foster innovation, join up thinking and monitor involvement and impact
  • It provides opportunities for learning and reflection and support for continuing professional development and training


An engaged university is actively involving staff, students and representatives of the public and using their energy, expertise and feedback to shape the engagement strategy and its delivery:

  • It ensures that all staff – in academic and support roles – have opportunities to get involved in informal and formal ways
  • It proactively includes and involves students in shaping the mission and in the delivery of the strategy, and maximises opportunities for their involvement
  • It invests in people, processes and infrastructure to support and nurture the involvement of the public and of organisations external to the HEI

So how ‘engaged’ is your institution? You can use our EDGE tool to assess your current support for public engagement.