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Our University wins Platinum Engage Watermark for public engagement excellence

06 Dec 2023

Our University has been awarded a Platinum Watermark for the effectiveness of the ways in which it works to engage society with its activities in research, teaching and culture

Community Festival 2023

Winning a Platinum Engage Watermark is the highest public engagement honour that can be awarded to an institution and recognises ‘exceptional strategic leadership of public engagement; high standards of professional support; and excellence in partnership working’.

Awarded by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) the Engage Watermark is a charter mark for universities that assesses their support for public engagement across all aspects of their work. The Watermark was announced at the NCCPE Engage Conference on Thursday, 6 December.

The award followed a rigorous assessment involving colleagues from across campus, and partner organisations working with them. It recognises the strategic support for public engagement at our University, as well as plans to develop this work in the future.

At Manchester this includes a whole host of public facing events such the annual Community Festival welcoming our local friends and neighbours on to campus to discover the variety of work we do; bluedot a science and music festival at the world-famous UNESCO world heritage site Jodrell Bank, and Great Science Share for Schools an international campaign spotlighting children’s scientific questions.

Our staff and students also actively involve the public in our research and teaching: including Voices of Our National Health Service a participative research programme on the history of the NHS; through service learning bringing together community involvement, academic study and practical experience; and by involving local citizens in decision-making through a Civic Panel to shape priorities as part of our Greater Manchester Civic University Agreement.

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nancy Rothwell said: “As a passionate advocate for public engagement, I’m proud that we have embedded a culture of high-quality practice through our core goal of social responsibility. We are delighted to be recognised nationally with a prestigious Platinum Watermark for our sustained excellence and leadership in public engagement.”

Cllr Bev Craig said: “As the leader of Manchester City Council and lead for Greater Manchester Combined Authority for Economy and Inclusive Growth, I am proud that we have The University of Manchester as a civic partner. This award is great recognition for the University’s collaborative work with local communities, councils, business and civic partners to address to address real priorities and realise mutual benefit through the GM Civic University Agreement.”

Sophie Duncan, Co-director of the NCCPE said: “At the NCCPE, as well as challenging the sector and campaigning for change, we champion excellent practice. We’re delighted to be able to award The University of Manchester a Platinum Engage Watermark for their sustained and deep-rooted commitment to public engagement, which has been informed by consultation with staff, students and partners”.

Key features of Manchester’s approach to public engagement drew special praise from the assessors included our efforts to open up the campus and cultural institutions to become more welcoming and accessible for community use, the involvement of partners and communities in shaping the research and teaching at the University, and the very significant commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

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