The University of Manchester

Why we've signed the Manifesto

"I believe universities exist for the public good. I am passionately committed to public engagement partly because I feel we are obliged to do this in our role as a publicly funded institution but more importantly because we want to share our passion, research and knowledge. Equally we gain enormously from these interactions with the public as it helps us do better and more meaningful research and be better teachers. 

Engagement includes every aspect of a university’s work; our teaching, our research, our wider contribution to society and the national economy and our research which aims to solve the world’s most pressing problems. We can only do this effectively if we are talking with and learning from the public."

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor

Our approach to public engagement

At Manchester ‘public engagement’ means the many ways we connect, share and involve the public with our work locally, nationally and internationally.

Our public engagement encompasses all disciplines and is mutually beneficial to staff, students and the public and enables the sharing of knowledge and expertise to solve problems; inspires researchers and students of the future; stimulates new areas of research and has an impact on society. It covers a wide breadth of activities and contributions including patient involvement; applied student work; outreach; community projects; citizen science the work of our cultural attractions; engaging with widening participation schools; and policy engagement.

Our staff and students are supported to engage under the leadership of our Academic Lead for Public Engagement who works with a champions network and other public engagement practitioners. Support includes a number of network platforms to bring colleagues and external partners together to foster discussion and the sharing of good practice; focus groups to plan activities around a theme; a programme of training open to students, staff and public contributors; dedicated web sites, blogs and social media accounts; a number of supported events organised each year linked to key regional, national or international events; and small funding grants.

Our public engagement hallmark

The Great Science Share for Schools engages young people with science and engineering

The Great Science Share for Schools is a fast growing national campaign designed to engage young people with science and engineering. Developed by Dr Lynne Bianchi at the University of Manchester, the campaign has three key aims:

  • to inspire young people to communicate their science with new audiences
  • to improve the teaching and learning of science through collaboration 
  • to raise the profile and value of school science for long term gain in learner outcomes.

Launched as part of the European City of Science in 2016, it now runs as an annual programme of events working in partnership with STEM business and education organisations such as BASF, Primary Science Teaching Trust, the ASE and the Wellcome Trust as well as the BBC 2018 Terrific Scientific. There is a flagship event, 31 satellite events and 263 registered school-led events reaching across the UK, the Channel Islands and Korea involving over 40,000 young people. Key to all activity is placing young people at the centre of the learning experience, supporting them to share their scientific questions and investigations with new audiences. A Teachmeet in 2018 launched a new website, resources and branding to support teachers to take part.

Our public engagement talking point

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE): International perspectives and practice

The University of Manchester supports and enable members of the public to contribute to its research and teaching, through its extensive programme of Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement. Led through its Public Engagement strategy, governance and standards for involvement in our medical and health programme and supported by Public Contributor guides  and inductions, we strive to embed involvement and engagement in all aspects of Higher Education.

We intend to further enhance Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement in our extensive research and teaching programme at international level in Low and Middle Income Countries. We are starting with engaging with our exemplar projects, sharing good practice and providing a forum upon which academics and communities can work together to ensure meaningful and sustainable patient and public involvement and engagement at a global level.

Our public engagement people

Suzanne Spicer first joined the University in 2008 as the Beacon for Public Engagement Project Manager, a project which aimed to embed public engagement across the institution, before becoming the University Social Responsibility Manager in 2012. Suzanne has been key to implementing a culture change programme at the University to recognise and support public engagement. She catalyses change by empowering staff and students to undertake public engagement; encourages and influences policy and procedure change; coordinates and supports change via networking and small flagship projects. She has worked tirelessly to embed better incorporation of evaluation in our engagement activities and this is an important aspect of our public engagement training portfolio for which she has developed various workshops and surgery sessions. As well as her work in Social Responsibility, she has been a key player in the development and subsequent implementation of the University’s public engagement strategy. Importantly, she has worked hard to connect and foster collaborative partnerships between staff and students across the University and helped create new connections with community groups and stakeholders. Her excellence has been recognised externally leading her to be a go-to person for many people outside the University wishing to develop their public engagement potential. 


Dee-Ann Johnson, Public Engagement Manager