University College London (UCL)

Why we've signed the Manifesto

"As a Beacon for Public Engagement, UCL has led the way to change the culture of higher education institutions to ensure that public engagement is a rewarded and recognised activity. UCL's Public Engagement Unit has been successful in creating a structure and model for public engagement, and in addressing many barriers traditionally faced by higher education institutions undertaking public engagement. Our 20-year institutional strategy, UCL 2034, sets out our ambitions to be an accessible and publicly engaged university which is firmly located within our local community. UCL 2034 emphasises our responsibility to contribute effectively to society and our local community our commitment to being permeable to, and interactive with, the public in order to encouraging dialogue that will inform our activities."

Professor Michael Arthur is the President & Provost of UCL

Our approach to public engagement

UCL is an open, publicly engaged university. We value collaboration, partnership and dialogue to maximise our collective impact in society, now and in the future. 

Public engagement is essential to achieving UCL’s core mission of transforming how the world is understood, how knowledge is created and shared, and how complex problems are solved. Public engagement is a key pathway to enhance the university’s impact in society, and a route to inform and influence public discourse. Building upon UCL’s history, experience and knowledge, the challenge is to embed and sustain a culture in which staff, students, departments, and the institution as a whole proactively listen to and engage with communities. UCL’s distinctive public engagement will be characterised by three things: 

  • A focus on collaborative models of engagement;
  • Involvement of diverse public groups, particularly those whose voices are heard less often; 
  • A spirit of experimentation from which learning can emerge.

In this way, UCL will play a leading role in creating a culture of sharing within the higher education sector and beyond.

Our public engagement hallmark

The Evaluation Exchange Cohort 2017/18

At UCL, we already have outstanding researchers who have blazed a trail in forging their own relationships and developing standalone public engagement projects — but we are now think how much more we could achieve, and how much faster, if we had institutional platforms in place to connect staff and students with our local communities in Camden and Olympic Borough communities.

We have recently piloted a programme called the Evaluation Exchange have the potential to transform the way we connect UCL researchers and voluntary sector organisations across London.

Our public engagement talking point

2018 marks the tenth anniversary of UCL’s Public Engagement Unit — a date to celebrate together, to pause and reflect on what we have collectively achieved in the last decade and to start a conversation about where we want to get to by 2028. Throughout 2018, UCL Culture will be celebrating UCL’s public engagement past and present and hosting an ongoing conversation with both the UCL community and our external partners about its future. So please get involved in this year’s conversation, become part of our network, tweet us, and email us with your questions, ideas and thoughts and help us be even more ambitious about the decade to come.


Laura Cream, Director of Engagement