Queen Mary University of London’s status as a civic university, committed to supporting its local, national and international community, has been cemented today with founding partnership of a new national network.
Sheffield Hallam University, in partnership with the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), the Institute for Community Studies, Queen Mary University of London, and others, has today (27 March) been announced as the winner of the competition launched by the UPP Foundation to host the Civic University Network. The UPP Foundation supports projects focused on fostering collaboration between universities and their local communities.
The Network has been created to provide an opportunity for universities to share and develop best practice around civic activity and engagement. It also aims to develop a peer-review model of quality assessment to ensure that all affiliated institutions share a similar understanding of what constitutes high quality civic engagement. Its first priority is to help higher education institutions respond to the social and economic challenges posed by the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.
Queen Mary’s commitment to inclusivity, its local community and public engagement has always been a leading priority for the University, and the University was the first institution ever to be awarded the Gold Engage Watermark by the NCCPE, in recognition of its support for public engagement.
Examples of Queen Mary’s engagement activities include: the student-run Legal Advice Centre, a centre providing free legal advice to those in need in the community; the People’s Palace cultural outreach programmes; and the special performance of Jan Karski: Remember This, in recognition of International Holocaust Memorial Day. Just last year the University launched a ‘first in the UK’ degree apprenticeship programme in social change to encourage new talent into the not-for-profit ‘third’ sector.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Queen Mary continues to play a vital and engaging role. Last week, the University relieved all of its clinical academic staff of their commitments to be fully available to support the NHS and donated much needed diagnostic equipment to the hospital. In addition to this, final year medical students from Queen Mary’s Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry were trained to immediately support the NHS in the fight against coronavirus.
Queen Mary’s Vice-Principal, Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Dr Philippa Lloyd, said:
“There has never been a more important time for universities to fulfil their civic mission. The application of university research and engagement with our communities are essential to tackling the immediate threats of the coronavirus pandemic and helping to alleviate the socio-economic upheaval that will follow.
“That’s why Queen Mary is proud to play its part in shaping the Civic University Network, which provides a valuable forum for institutions that share our civic commitment to collaborate and exchange knowledge on how to maximise our civic impact. Importantly, the network is also a valuable route to engage with expertise from beyond our sector, making sure that we take inspiration from our communities as much as contribute to them.”
With the developing coronavirus public health emergency, the network will aim to be at the leading edge of the sector’s long-term response to the economic and social challenges presented by outbreak. Queen Mary will now have a seat at the table with other leading civic universities, collaborating on the engagement programmes and activities that will be invaluable to communities across the country and the world, in the recovery phase to follow.
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