Public Engagement

The benefits of public engagement

Public engagement brings a host of benefits - to universities, to their staff and students, and to the wider public; there's a growing body of evidence demonstrating the tangible impact that engagement can create.

1) Impacts on universities

Our University has already recognised the importance of the engaged research agenda through signing the Manifesto for Public Engagement. In doing so, it recognises that public engagement can:

  • Enrich an institution's research, teaching and learning - the public may challenge and broaden academic thinking. Projects defined and researched in partnership can result in greater impact and relevance. See the evidence.
  • Demonstrate accountability in a climate of increasing scrutiny - society and politicians are increasingly prepared to challenge investment in public services and public engagement can help ensure well-informed debate and dialogue about future investment. See the evidence.
  • Strengthen and enrich an institution's brand and identity and increase public appreciation and support for higher education and for research. See the evidence.

2) Impacts on students and staff

Embracing public engagement can transform the educational experience of students and stimulate and develop staff by:

  • Motivating and developing staff and students - many believe they've a duty to explain their work and its social and ethical implications whilst the act of engaging can develop transferable skills (e.g. leadership, communication, listening, partnership working and project management). See the evidence.
  • Enriching the student experience - ensuring students can access a range of formal and less formal opportunities to engage with the public develops their employability and life skills and demonstrates the social commitment of higher education. See the evidence.
  • Helping to sensitise staff and students to social and ethical issues - engaging with the public helps staff and students to better understand wider social concerns and the implications for their research. See the evidence

3) Impacts on civil society

Public engagement helps universities maximise the benefits of their work to society, helping them to keep abreast of public concerns and expectations and supporting real-world problem-solving. It can:

  • Help maximise knowledge flows and learning between universities and society. See the evidence.
  • Contribute to social justice and corporate responsibility, helping people to make a difference. See the evidence
  • Help to build trust and mutual understanding at a time when deference to authority and professional expertise is decreasing. See the evidence.
  • Generate unforeseen outcomes, and stimulate creativity and innovation - see our researcher case studies.

For further information on the benefits of public engagement for researchers, see the Research Councils UK's What's in it for me? guide.