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UPP Foundation Response to Advancing University Engagement Report

22nd July 2020 by Richard Brabner

King’s College London, University of Melbourne and the University of Chicago have today (22 July 2020) published a report Advancing University Engagement: University engagement and global league table

In response, Richard Brabner, Director of UPP Foundation (which established the Civic University Commission), said:

“Rankings are problematic for a range of reasons but while we might want to wish them away the reality is that they’re here to stay. Therefore it would be much better if existing and new rankings included the value universities bring to society so that they provide a more comprehensive picture of our sector. The report provides an important contribution to this debate and includes a sensible range of indicators. I particularly welcome the report’s focus on embedding civic engagement within the curriculum. This is vital to fostering a student’s long-term commitment to service, as well as developing the skills and attributes to thrive in the outside world.

“I would however caution any perception that a global ranking can define whether a university is civic or not. A truly civic university focuses on the needs of its community and region. It is important these local factors drive the activities of a civic university, not the benchmarks or indicators in a ranking. That’s why last year the UPP Foundation’s Civic University Commission recommended that universities develop and implement Civic University Agreements – strategies and activities which put the needs of its place at the heart of its civic engagement. Over 60 universities in the UK have pledged to publish an Agreement – demonstrating the significant commitment our sector has made to supporting the towns, cities and regions they are from.”


Notes to editors:

  1. The UPP Foundation is a registered charity that offers grants to universities, charities and other higher education bodies to tackle the biggest issues in the higher education sector. The UPP Foundation was created in 2016 by University Partnerships Programme (UPP), the UK’s leading provider of on-campus residential and academic accommodation infrastructure.
  2. In 2018-19 the UPP Foundation ran the Civic University Commission, which looked at the economic, social and cultural role universities play in their local communities. The key recommendation from the Commission was the establishment of Civic University Agreements. CUAs are strategic plans rooted in a robust analysis of local need. Co-signed by local partners, the Agreements are a public declaration of university’s civic priorities and how they will deliver them in partnership with other local organisations. Over 60 universities have pledged to develop and implement a Civic University Agreement. The UPP Foundation has also published guidance for developing a Civic University Agreement.
  3. This year, the UPP Foundation, Department for Education, Carnegie Trust UK and Arts Council England established the Civic University Network. Hosted at Sheffield Hallam University, this body supports best practice across the higher education sector

Richard Brabner

Richard Brabner is the Director of UPP Foundation

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