• Established in 2001
• Non-governmental membership
• More than 800 individual university
• 34 National Rectors’ Conferences Members
• 47 countries
• Independent voice of the university sector
• Forum for exchange, peer learning for
Brief Profile of EUA
Public engagement of universities - why this topic?
• Mainly publicly funded universities need to be accountable to society, show their added value;
• Increased focus on impact of research on society;
• Post-factual politics and emerging distrust in science;
• Digitalisation opens up opportunities to make research accessible to non-expert audiences;
• Fast changing labour markets and an increased need for high skilled people;
• Continued massification, increasing diversity of society;
• Raises questions about the role of universities in society
• Universities need to open up, engage, interact with society at different levels & in various ways
What is public engagement?
"Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits
of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by
definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of
generating mutual benefit." (National Coordination Center for Public Engagement
“A mutually beneficial knowledge-based collaboration between the higher
education institution with the wider community, through community-campus
partnerships ...” (Campus Engage, Irish Universities Association)
“Engagement as a two-way process opposite to communication or outreach.”
“Societal engagement is focused on involving civil society groups and less structured
stakeholders such as neighbourhood groups or ordinary citizens”
“Public engagement is about involving citizens in the decision-making process or in
the research process itself.”
(Engage 2020 project)
Who is the public?
Where to engage them?
Source: EUA Focus group applications
Public engagement & research
Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach:
• Involving society in science and innovation ‘very upstream' in the
processes of R&I to align its outcomes with the values of society.
• A wide umbrella connecting different aspects of the relationship
between R&I and society: public engagement, open access, gender
equality, science education, ethics, and governance.
• A cross-cutting issue in Horizon 2020, the EU Programme for
Research and Innovation 2014-2020.
Trends 2018. Question 28: At your institution, does inclusiveness and social engagement have any impact on learning and teaching? Please
select one option per line. (n=288)
Public engagement & learning and teaching
Public engagement & university governance
Source : EUA University Autonomy Scorecard 2017
• In most systems across Europe
universities include external members in
their governing bodies.
• These are typically: public bodies (local,
regional or national), chambers of
commerce, the business sector in
general, other research & higher
One way of ensuring interaction with
society and respond to public
Public engagement & professionalisation
- Exchange of good practices on public engagement;
- Professional development & training courses for staff working on
- Development of common principles and tools
• Explore the topic and understand how universities frame it;
• Facilitate a European discussion and identify common issues;
• Provide a space for peer learning and exchange for members;
• Find out about concrete institutional strategies and practices that go beyond
single projects and take a more comprehensive approach;
• Develop ideas on if and how EUA could further explore the topic to serve its
Aims of the focus group
Questions for discussion:
Drivers: why do you think it is important for your institution to engage with society and the
public? Is this something new for your institution or do you do it for a long time? Are there
any incentives or political requirements for universities to do this (e.g. funding)?
Target groups: how do you define the “public”? Who are your main target groups?
Strategy: how does your institution deal with public engagement in a strategic way? Is there
an institutional vision for public engagement, and/or are there specific priorities and goals?
Main activities: what are you concretely doing? Please briefly illustrate a concrete
Burning question: what would you like to know from the other participants?
Join us at the EUA Annual Conference on
“Engaged and responsible Universities shaping Europe”
5-6 April 2018, hosted by the University of Zurich, Switzerland
Registrations are open until 19 March.
Early bird fee until 28 February!
More info on the website
Campus Engage Project, IE: http://www.campusengage.ie/
Engage 2020 Project: http://engage2020.eu/
European University Association (EUA), 2017, University Autonomy in Europe III – The Scorecard, by
Bennetot Pruvot, E. & Estermann, T. (Brussels, EUA).
European University Association (EUA), 2018, Trends 2018, forthcoming (Brussels, EUA).
National Coordinating Center for Public Engagement, UK: https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/
OECD (2017), OECD Employment Outlook 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris.
RRI Tools: http://rri-tools.eu
March for Science: https://www.marchforscience.com/