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MMU launches largest ever public engagement initiative

Published: 27th May 2008

MANCHESTER Metropolitan University is gearing up to work more closely with the public.

Celebrating the launch today of the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement, Professor Maureen Neal, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and Third Stream, spoke of a future where the public understood more about what universities had to offer.

And she invited staff to add ‘engagement with the public’ to their successful roles as teachers and researchers.

The Manchester Beacon, a £1.2 million partnership with the University of Manchester, Salford University, the Museum of Science and Industry and Manchester:Knowledge Capital, aims to spark a substantial change in university culture, encouraging staff to reach out, listen to and engage with the people of Manchester and Salford.

Big opportunity

Professor Neal said: "What makes this initiative so exciting for MMU is that it is both recognition for the excellent public engagement work that we already do in areas such as sustainability, health and the arts and also a big opportunity for us to shape this important agenda on behalf of the HE sector.

"Public engagement is critical in a city like Manchester where, despite the economic boom, our inner cities are challenged with areas of major social and economic deprivation and poor educational achievement."

And she added: "People don’t understand that some of the work going on at university can solve their problems."

Dr Erinma Ochu, project director, said, the Beacon would set up a network of ‘champions’ – academics who were very good at engaging with the public - and fund new projects.

The Beacon is funded by HEFCE, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust.

Have Your Say

As part of the initial work of the Beacons, Oakleigh Consulting is undertaking a baseline survey of existing attitudes of staff towards public engagement. The short e-survey is
available by going to

For further details or to volunteer a current or potential 'public engagement project', contact Sam Gray, Public Engagement Manager and MMU Beacon Developer, in the RED Office, on 0161 247 3429