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University shines in new project to engage with neighbours.*

03 Nov 2008

£9.2m national initiative to give public a more interactive role in HE.

Six 'Beacons for Public Engagement' - in Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, London, Cardiff and Edinburgh - have been set up with the aim of assisting staff and students to engage with the public.

And now Manchester Beacon Project Manager Suzanne Spicer joins project director Erinma Ochu and Deputy President and Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell in launching a four-year programme to build stronger links between the University and its neighbouring areas.

In her first seven weeks Suzanne has already met with more than 70 University staff.

She says she has already found a significant amount of evidence of projects that already bring together University staff and members of local communities.

But she hopes that ultimately the project will improve the extent and the quality of those experiences - fostering two-way communication between both parties.

Ms Spicer, who was formerly learning manager at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), said: "There are six beacons across the country and the aim of them is to achieve cultural change within the universities and to get them to recognise, reward and undertake more two-way engagement with the public.

"There is a lot of public engagement going on. And my impression is that people really value it. People who are doing it value its importance.

"Part of my role is to help make those benefits tangible to all."

Manchester Metropolitan University, Salford University, Manchester:

Knowledge Capital and MOSI are also partners in the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement.

The project is designed to make universities integral to the wider community and to motivate, assist and reward staff and students who reach out, listen to and engage with our local communities.

Suzanne is now looking for a cohort of Beacon Champions to shape and benefit from the programme.

To find out more or to let Suzanne know more about how you are already engaging with the public, contact her on: