Engage Watermark

an public engagement event at The Exchange

What is the Engage Watermark scheme?

The Engage Watermark is an award granted by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) to higher education institutions to recognise their strategic support for public engagement and their commitment to improve the support offered.

Engage Watermark 2022 Gold Award

The University of Birmingham has been awarded a gold (one of the highest awards given), at this year’s Engage Watermark Awards by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). The Award recognises the university’s public engagement work and the impact it has on a local and regional scale.This most recent award sees the University improve from its previous Watermark level in 2018, where it won silver.

The NCCPE said that the University of Birmingham had demonstrated a desire to work purposefully, and in partnership with the communities and organisations of Birmingham, to contribute to the regeneration and flourishing of the region.

“We are delighted to award the University of Birmingham a Gold watermark. Our review highlighted a strong commitment to engagement across the institution, exemplary practices, an effective support infrastructure, and ambitious plans for the future.

The opening of The Exchange – the University’s city centre community engagement hub – has afforded the University, its partners and communities new opportunities, and strengthened their commitment to work in partnership, for the benefit of the city and region. Assessors were encouraged to see how they had developed and delivered on their plans and ambitions since they were awarded the Silver Watermark back in 2018.”

Sophie Duncan, Co-Director of the NCCPE

The judges also commended the approach the university takes towards public engagement from giving staff and students opportunities to work with the public, to the support structure that is in place to ensure the university makes meaningful and impactful contributions to Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region.

The University takes part in a huge number of public engagement activities every year, which aim to foster and maintain civic partnerships across the board, including with local, regional and national government, businesses and research partners, and the local diverse communities in Birmingham and further afield.  

Judges were particularly impressed by the opening of the Exchange in Birmingham’s city centre, which has allowed the university to further engage the public in some of its key research areas, through exhibitions and workshops.   

“I am very proud that the University of Birmingham has achieved the Gold Engage Watermark. It is a real credit to the excellent progress the University has made on our public engagement activity since we achieved silver in 2018.

“At the University of Birmingham, we pride ourselves on the impact that we have on the city and the Midlands region, not only as one of Birmingham’s biggest employers but through our research and our relationships with civic partners, communities and businesses. Opening The Exchange in Birmingham city centre is a testament to the dedication that we have to our city and its communities, and we’re delighted to have that recognised by the NCCPE today.”

Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham

00;00;11;06 – 00;00;32;02
Professor Alice Roberts
There is enormous enthusiasm for public engagement, for engaging the wider public with what we do as a university and with breaking away from the idea that universities are just about their own staff and students, and instead really engaging with the idea that we should be about enriching the community more broadly.

00;00;32;18 – 00;00;52;26
Professor Ewan Fernie
Everything to everybody said the library’s visionary founder, George Dawson. And yet his legacy to us, this great Shakespeare library, has gone to sleep. Not enough people know about it. Not enough people know that it belongs to them. Whoever they are, wherever they come from, whatever their educational background might be.

00;00;53;23 – 00;01;01;27
Professor Alice Roberts
And also about engagement as a as a two way thing about a dialog between universities and the public. That’s so important.

00;01;01;27 – 00;01;27;20
Tony Kelly
We do need to be part and parcel of the solution and be there around the table when decisions are being made. So I grabbed the invitation with both hands. It’s a very interesting impact to be able to have and share with people, and I think it’s been a two way process where the scientists have also learned from us, and vice versa, a meeting of the minds.