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Beacons for Public Engagement

The Beacons for Public Engagement are a group of higher education institutions (HEIs) who are leading the way towards greater engagement with the public across the higher education (HE) sector.

The beacons were established through a 9 million funding initiative designed to run for four years and jointly developed by the UK higher education funding councils and Research Councils UK, in association with the Wellcome Trust.

In this context 'public engagement' means bringing together HE specialists and non-specialists to develop new channels of communication and mutual understanding. The 'public' includes individuals and groups who do not currently have a formal relationship with an HEI through teaching, research or the existing programmes of community or business engagement.

The beacons and the National Co-ordinating Centre

There are six beacons in total steered by a National Co-ordinating Centre. All aim to develop a co-ordinated approach to recognising, rewarding and building capacity for public engagement, some focusing on specific themes and target audiences. The six beacons are located in Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, London, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

More about the beacons

The beacons were agreed after a bidding process in two stages. Eighty-six eligible bids were received in the first stage of the process. Of these, 12 proposals for beacons and two proposals for a National Co-ordinating Centre were invited to proceed to stage two.

Monitoring and evaluation

The progress of this initiative will be monitored through a combination of annual self-assessment and external evaluation. The evaluation will examine the initiative as a whole (looking at the work of the six beacons and the National Co-ordinating Centre) and assess it against its aims. A report will be published during the third year of the programme and will inform future thinking about funding public engagement.

Further information

For further information contact Jenni Chambers, tel 0117 931 7041, e-mail j.chambers@hefce.ac.uk.

Last updated 2 December 2009