Impact of Higher Education Institutions on Regional Economies: A Joint Research Initiative



Excellence in Engagement: Policies and practices for university‐ community engagement

Excellence in Engagement: Policies and practices for university-community engagement

22nd June 2009

Centre for Knowledge, Technology, Innovation and Enterprise

Newcastle University

Universities are key institutions in the knowledge economy and will be a vital part of societal responses to the grand challenges of the 21st century such as climate change, resource scarcity and demographic ageing. This raises the question of how can universities’ knowledge and expertise can be mobilised and made relevant for those communities who have not benefited from a university education.

This issue is particularly salient for socially excluded communities who face particular barriers in accessing higher education and interacting with universities. Can universities help these communities, re-engage them with the knowledge economy, to reinvent this social compact to benefit all social strata?
In this symposium, we address the practicalities of encouraging engagement with these excluded groups. This symposium creates a space where academics, HE managers and policy-makers can debate and discuss the following questions:
  • In an age of the ‘overburdened university’, how can a university adopt an engagement mission?
  • How can engagement be made complementary to the other key university activities, including teaching and research?
  • How can excluded communities hold universities accountable to their interests and needs?
  • What policies, indicators and performance measures support effective engagement activities?

“Excellence in engagement” is a one-day symposium where these questions can be discussed to produce common understandings, alongside highlighting tensions and contradictions in the practicalities of an engagement mission for higher education.

The format will include a mix of invited speakers and a panel discussion, alongside significant time for audience involvement.

Confirmed speakers for the event include:

  • Professor Paul Younger (Pro Vice Chancellor, Newcastle University)
  • Professor James Powell (Pro Vice Chancellor, Salford University)
  • Professor Phil Gummett (Chief Executive, HEFCW)
  • Professor Allan Cochrane (Open University)
  • Professor Angie Hart (Brighton University, Director, Community‐University Partnerships Programme)
  • Dr Laura Saija (Catania University, Italy)
  • Ruth Williams (Centre for Higher Education Research & Information, Open University)
  • Ursula Kelly (Programme Director, HEIs Impact Programme, Strathclyde University)
  • Kim Aumann (Amaze Brighton)
  • Professor David Charles (Director, KITE, Newcastle University)


The speakers include a mix of invited expert speakers from university management, research and HE policy, as well as expert discussants and facilitators; although the focus of the day is on engagement in the UK, speakers have been selected for their ability to place university engagement in a wider international context.
Findings from the day will be used to produce a policy guide for university engagement with excluded community which will be made available through the project website.
The symposium is FREE to attend, although places have been capped at 60 so early registration is encouraged.
To register contact Jill Green, Conference Organiser: