January 30, 2023 | University Partners

Solent University Wins Silver Engage Watermark

Solent University has been awarded the Silver Engage Watermark in recognition of our 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.

Solent University has been awarded a Silver Watermark, following a rigorous assessment process, involving staff from across in 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.

Solent University’s Provost, Professor Syamantak Bhattacharya says:

“Receiving the Watermark is particularly important for a university like ours, that is committed to engaging with and supporting its communities. It not only recognises the broad range of public engagement activities undertaken by our staff and students, but also the success of our key community partnerships, including ABP Southampton Marathon and Southampton Football Club.

“The Watermark also highlights Solent University’s continued commitment to further growth in this area and - along with our network of public engagement professionals - we will continue to share best practice, learnings and opportunities to develop our approach.”

Winning a Silver Engage Watermark is a significant achievement. It demonstrates that the institution has made substantial progress in addressing its level of support for public engagement. The institution is using evidence and intelligence to focus its efforts and future plans, and has an action plan in place, and appropriate resources allocated, to build on the momentum and address any areas of weakness. Clear success measures have been identified and there is a high level of institutional commitment to further improvements.

Sophie Duncan, Co-Director of the NCCPE says:

“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 be able to award Solent University a Silver Engage Watermark. This award reflects the University’s commitment to engagement with the public, which was apparent in all corners of the institution, including the Vice-Chancellor’s inspirational leadership, the expert professional support on offer to staff and students, and the warmth expressed by partners towards the university. Solent knows why engagement with the public matters and has put significant resource and imagination into developing increasingly effective support and leadership. We hope that the university will use this success to inspire others to follow their lead.”