University's commitment to public engagement endorsed at national level

University's commitment to public engagement endorsed at national level

The University of Aberdeen's achievements in public engagement feature in a new government endorsed publication launched this week entitled Inspiration to Engage.

The publication celebrates three years since the launch of UK Concordat and Manifesto to embed public engagement in the UK higher education sector. 

The University was among the first to sign up to the manifesto which is endorsed by all the major UK funding and research councils and now supported by 50 Universities.

Providing the foreword for the publication, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “I welcomed the establishment of the Concordat back in 2010 and endorsed it by BIS becoming a Supporter. Public engagement is fundamental to research. It increases the impact research has on our society and economy.”

The University’s reputation for research-led public engagement was significantly enhanced in 2012 when it secured one of eight RCUK Catalyst Awards for Public Engagement with Research. 

Championed by the institution’s Public Engagement with Research and Researcher Development Units, the Catalyst project has stimulated a number of initiatives including new training programmes, public facing events and incentives including enabling funds and the Principle’s Prize for Public Engagement.

Dr Kenneth Skeldon, Head of Public Engagement with Research said: “Our approach to research-led public engagement at Aberdeen has set new standards across the sector. We are influencing initiatives at UK level such as the new national public engagement competition and ongoing consultations on how engagement will feature in the research landscape moving forward.”

The Inspiration to Engage publication highlights the University’s senior-level commitment to public engagement and cites the success of the new University Festival and its research-led Discover Strand. It also contains a case study featuring postgraduate researcher Sonia Watson and her journey to the UK FameLab London final earlier this year.

Dr Lucy Leiper of the University’s Researcher Development Unit added: “Catalyst has shaped our professional development provision for research staff and students so as to make it stand out across the sector. We are delighted that our approach has been highlighted in this landmark publication from RCUK and the major funders.”  

Inspiration to Engage reaffirms the importance attached to public engagement by the UK funding sector by setting out four clear guiding principles expected of higher education institutions. 

The publication can be downloaded from the University’s Public Engagement with Research website at www.abdn.ac.uk/engage  or requested in printed form directly from RCUK at www.rcuk.ac.uk.

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