About the Engage Watermark

The Engage Watermark is an award granted by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) to higher education institutions to recognise their strategic support for public engagement and their commitment to improve the support offered. Just as a watermark runs through the fabric of a document, an Engage Watermark indicates that engagement runs through the fabric of an institution.

Institutions applying for the Engage Watermark will receive a synthesis of key data relating to their institution, enabling them to recognise core strengths as well as highlight areas for development. This intelligence gathering provides a rich source of data to strengthen the institution’s support for impactful public engagement.

Completing the Watermark process will allow institutions to:

  • Assess their support for high quality public engagement with research against the NCCPE’s EDGE tool
  • Assess understanding and awareness of public engagement across their institution
  • Assess their institution’s strategic intent and how effectively it is focussed on enhancing the quality of its support
  • Benchmark their activity against other institutions and monitor progress

Benefits to institutions

  • Undertaking a focussed ‘stock take’ of existing evidence of the impact of their support for engagement
  • Complementing the above with targeted additional intelligence gathering to build a robust picture
  • Having that evidence synthesised and reviewed by an external organisation and benchmarked against other HEIs
  • Receiving a set of recommendations and prompts to inform a refreshed action plan, with clear outcomes/success measures
  • A final assessment of that action plan and the underpinning evidence base
  • The opportunity to demonstrate to staff, students, partners and funders the institution’s commitment to public engagement
  • Compelling evidence to submit to underpin funding applications, REF submissions, and other quality assurance processes

Engage Watermark Faculty Award

We also offer the Watermark assessment to Faculties/Schools/Research Centres.

Why a watermark?

Since 2008 there has been strategic investment in encouraging universities to embed engagement into their work. A recent report, that sought to take stock of progress to date, suggested that much had been achieved, but there were opportunities and challenges ahead. One such opportunity was the need to recognise and reward excellence in institutional support for public engagement. The Engage Watermark is one key way to do this.

Applications for the Watermark are now closed and will reopen in Autumn 2023. Details will be published on this page

If you have any questions about your application, then please get in touch with the scheme’s administrator Lizzie How at lizzie.how@uwe.ac.uk or on 0117 328 2102.