Measuring the social impact of Higher Education community and civic engagement

Posted on: 30 May 2018

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor today launched a new guide for the higher education sector to help institutions to measure the impact of their engagement with Government, civil society, community organisations and the public. This new guide will assist HEIs to map, measure, and report on an expanding variety of engagement activities across research, teaching and learning, student and staff volunteering and public engagement.

Informed by a Campus Engage working group, the ‘Framework’ will provide guidance to HEIs in setting baseline figures and key performance indicators for engagement activity when reporting to the Higher Education Authority on the new System Performance Framework. The guide is part of a concerted effort by universities to respond to societal challenges, in partnership with civil society and community organisations.

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, with Kate Morris, Campus Engage National Co-ordinator and Jim Miley, DG, Irish Universities Association at the launch of ‘Measuring Higher Education Civic and Community Engagement – A Support Framework’

Launching the guide Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “Through the System Performance Framework we have asked institutions to create rich opportunities for national and international engagement to enhance a strong bridge to enterprise and the wider community. We see this new Guide as a positive response to that request and it offers practical support to institutions to measure their impact on society.”

The guide aims to complement the existing HEI activity and to support new activities, laying down benchmarks for civic and community engagement in line with best international practice.

Kate Morris, National Co-ordinator of the Campus Engage network said “Our universities and IoTs are increasingly connecting with a broad range of communities and external partners, jointly addressing societal challenges. These collaborations enhance research and student learning and directly address issues of public interest. This work needs to be defined, captured, and celebrated and we hope this new guide helps do that.”

The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 endorses the civic mission of higher education and states that ‘engaging with wider society’ is ‘one of the three interconnected core roles of higher education’. In acknowledgement of this, the Presidents of the Irish universities and IoTs signed a ten-point Campus Engage Charter for Civic and Community Engagement in 2014, thereby committing their institutions to the enhancement and co-ordination of engaged research, teaching and learning, public engagement and student volunteering.