The major challenge for the Beacons project was to help shift public engagement from being an 'add on' and fringe activity, to one that is embedded into the way universities and research institutes approach their work. We've learnt a huge amount from the beacons and from other universities, in the UK and internationally, who have been working on this challenge for a number of years. We've identified the following three areas as absolutely critical to successful strategic implementation of engagement.
- 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
The engaged university of the future
The NCCPE commissioned a consultation to consider the future of the engaged university. During 2013 over 200 people got involved, including community based organisations, cultural organisations, charities and higher education staff and students. You can read more about Engaged Futures here, or download the reports below.