This NCCPE report provides an example of a strategic assessement of the role of engagement in the overall work of a research institution (i.e. universities) as it evolves within a fast changing external environment.
The UK Higher Education (HE) sector has changed dramatically over the last decade. More than ever, universities have to think and plan for the future in the face of uncertainty over longer term public funding; expanding markets and increased competition for students and research income; rapidly changing approaches to knowledge and innovation;
and the opportunity and threat of new technology to place-based learning and research.
It has thus been an exciting time to embark on a consultation about the future of higher education and the role of public engagement (PE) in shaping that future, as universities shift their horizons to rethink their social purpose, core activities, and modus operandi in the face of a rapidly changing global, national and local economic context.
Over the last decade, public engagement has been gaining momentum. Universities no longer want to be seen as or behave as ‘ivory towers’. Universities of the twenty-first century are outward looking institutions, which actively seek interaction, debate and collaboration, to help shape and contribute to a thriving economy, society and democracy.
A key question for the consultation was therefore to understand, if these trends continue, where might this take an Engaged University of the future? And what do the public and organisations keen to partner with universities want from an Engaged University?