Engaging with our communities

Engaging with our communities

A message to staff from senior Vice-Principal Karl Leydecker, on progress in relation to the University's engagement with partners and stakeholders across Aberdeen and the north-east. Issued November 24th 2020.

Dear Staff and Postgraduate Researchers

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on our progress and ambitions in relation to the University’s engagement with partners and stakeholders across Aberdeen and the north-east of Scotland.

A key priority of our Aberdeen 2040 strategy is to work for the good of our region in line with our foundational purpose - with efforts to promote regional economic development closely linked to our five interdisciplinary research challenge areas.

I recently convened the latest meeting of our Regional Engagement Group, which co-ordinates the development, implementation and review of activities which underpin our commitment in this area.

In the months ahead we will focus on the following key areas of work:

  • Ongoing activity with local partners through the Aberdeen City Region Deal (ACRD), and Regional Economy Strategy (RES) with a focus on supporting energy, life sciences, and food and drink
  • Establishing communication mechanisms to build our stakeholder network and extend our potential reach through digital delivery
  • Ongoing stakeholder mapping exercise to identify key stakeholders in communities of interest, geography and practice, to enhance current engagement activities
  • Developing internal networks to facilitate cross-Directorate and School working to support delivery against our broader objectives


Much of this work is taking place under the auspices of our Research and Innovation (R&I) and Public Affairs, Stakeholder Engagement and Events (PASE) teams, with both playing a vital role in activity that enhances our regional engagement.

To provide some examples, R&I has been instrumental in our partnership with the OGTC in establishing the National Decommissioning Centre, as well as our involvement in the planned BioHub located at Foresterhill, which aims to become the focus for life sciences in the north-east of Scotland and builds on the success of our many University spin-outs.

Meanwhile, PASE has recently launched Civic News - a bi-monthly external stakeholder e-zine which aims to raise the profile of University activities and their impact in the community, the region and globally.  You can sign up to receive Civic News here.  To submit ideas for stories you would like to see included, please contact civicnews@abdn.ac.uk  

In addition, PASE has also secured meetings with MPs, MSPs and local councillors on issues such as the UK wide cap on student recruitment numbers, and our community commitments around Covid. The team has also initiated regular political monitoring updates for staff, and is exploring ways to make these more widely available.  PASE has also hosted many successful digital events including Podfest, WayWORD and Black History Month.

The Public Engagement with Research Unit (PERU) team has worked together with PASE and academic participants to deliver engagement at local, regional, national and international levels, through funding secured by PERU for The Festival of Social Science and the European Commission-funded Explorathon (European Researchers’ Night Scotland) project.

PERU is also working with Station House Media Unit (SHMU) in Aberdeen to facilitate science communication by bringing researchers and SHMU’s local youth media team together. At SMHU, volunteers and partner organisations from local regeneration areas are offered full training and support in order to produce and present their own radio programmes.

While much progress has already been made in this area as part of our ongoing activities, the Regional Engagement Group provides a focus and impetus to ensure we maximise opportunities to play a part in our region’s success.

We want to ensure that our work on regional engagement is visible and broad-based, and that colleagues across the University can get involved.  We plan to hold one or more open forums to provide opportunities for engagement and discussion in the new year, starting with a forum linked to the Civic University Agreement.  

Meanwhile if you have a particular interest in getting involved in this topic, or thoughts on our work, please contact either myself or Chris Croly, clerk to the Regional Engagement Group.

Look out for further updates on our progress in regional engagement, and I look forward to engaging with as many of you as possible on this topic over the course of this academic year.

Best wishes


Karl Leydecker
Senior Vice-Principal