How to increase universities' civic contribution

A new paper co-authored by Professor Ellen Hazelkorn looks at ways to increase universities’ civic contribution.

The paper explores the challenges and opportunities for enhancing the civic mission of Welsh universities and the Welsh post-compulsory education system more broadly.

The authors define universities’ civic mission as their commitment to bettering the local and regional communities of which they are part. They argue that while civic engagement is not a new concept for higher education it is still a poorly understood one.

In addition, civic engagement is difficult to measure because of the absence of agreed definitions, and clarity around the most appropriate and meaningful indicators which can capture the contribution of universities to the public good.

The authors argue that while supporting a healthy balance between institutional autonomy and public accountability, there is a role for government steering public institutions, including universities, in order to meet the needs of Welsh society.

They also argue that international experience provides examples of how to encourage civic engagement – including national strategic frameworks, performance-based or targeted funding, institutional compacts and other incentive arrangements.

The authors conclude by making a number of policy recommendations specific to the Welsh context.

Maximising universities’ civic contribution is published by Wales Centre for Public Policy