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How to benchmark university community engagement

Charles, David and Benneworth, Paul and Conway, Cheryl and Humphry, Lynne (2010) How to benchmark university community engagement. In: Community engagement and service. NIACE, Leicester, pp. 69-86. ISBN 9781862014572

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There is an increasing recognition that there is a need to rebalance the contributions that universities make to society. The so-called third mission for universities, also described as external engagement, has evolved considerably in the past quarter century, although the roots of engagement go back to the origins of most universities. In 1982, an OECD CERI report explored all dimensions of community engagement, with business, government, the third sector and society (OECD, 1982). However, the third mission has increasingly become equated with commercialisation, patents and licensing, a trend enforced by the easy measurement associated with these variables. This chapter explores the ways in which measurement and benchmarking tools can be used to assess the wider contributions that universities make including engagement with ‘harder-to-reach’ groups such as smaller, potentially non-innovative firms, voluntary organisations, smaller charities and disadvantaged communities.