Championing university-community partnerships: University of Derby wins Bronze Engage Watermark

16 December 2022

The University of Derby has been awarded the Bronze Engage Watermark in recognition of its outstanding commitment to supporting public engagement.

As we face increasing political, economic and environmental uncertainty, there has been a growing demand on UK universities to ensure their work involves and supports their communities and responds to the most pressing societal challenges.  

No longer ivory towers, many higher education institutions are reassessing how they create and share knowledge, and choosing to work very differently. They have strived to work collaboratively with diverse communities to ensure their spaces, research, teaching and resources are inclusive, accessible, and valuable to all. 

How universities engage with communities is recognised by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) Engage Watermark - a charter mark awarded to universities for excellence in their support and practice of public engagement across all aspects of their work.

The University of Derby has been awarded a Bronze Watermark, following a rigorous assessment process, involving staff from across the institution, and partner organisations working with them. The award was announced live at the NCCPE Engage Conference 2022 on 15 December and presented by special guest host David Sweeney, former Executive Chair of Research England.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said:

“We are delighted to receive this Bronze Engage Watermark in recognition of the University’s ongoing commitment to high quality public engagement.

“At the heart of university life is the imperative to create new knowledge and understanding and develop valuable and effective partnership working. Our approach to this engenders formal engagement, not just with the University community but directly with the many communities that are within our region and beyond.

“We look forward to working with the NCCPE as we continue to build on our commitment to public engagement at Derby, one that delivers long lasting positive impact for our staff, students and the wider communities.”

Winning a Bronze Engage Watermark is a significant achievement, demonstrating a high level of institutional commitment and a robust plan for further improvements.  

Sophie Duncan, Co-Director of the NCCPE, said:

“Since the early days of the NCCPE we have been championing a culture in higher education where engagement with the public and communities can thrive. Never has this work been more important to address. The Engage Watermark offers a benchmarking opportunity for institutions to evidence their commitment and achievements – and we applaud institutions who embark on this process with us and use the results to further their ambitions to make a valued contribution to their communities.”

Paul Manners, Co-Director of the NCCPE, said:

“We are delighted to award the University of Derby a Bronze Watermark. This award is a really significant achievement and recognises the many strengths that we discovered during the review. There is inspirational leadership, excellent professional support and a strong commitment to civic partnership. The university’s action plan is ambitious and focused and will build on these strong foundations. We want to applaud the university for being prepared to undertake robust scrutiny of its work, and to use this to set an exciting agenda for the future."

Find out more about the NCCPE.

Find out more about the Engage Watermark.

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