William Eichler 26 April 2016

Universities and charities should cooperate more for public benefit, says new study

Public policy outcomes could be improved if academics and the third sector worked more closely together, argues new report.

The Carnegie UK Trust has produced a report that challenges the notion of universities as ivory towers and identifies opportunities for academics and charities to work together for the public's benefit.

Written by Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE, the report draws on findings derived from stakeholders across the UK and roundtable events in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Newcastle.

The publication includes a number of recommendations designed to improve interaction between universities and the third sector, including the employment of specialist knowledge exchange workers to aid communication between the worlds of social science, policy and practice.

It also suggests investing in new ways of finding spaces for academics and practitioners to exchange knowledge.

Professor Shucksmith explains: ‘The notion that universities have a monopoly on knowledge production that must be transferred out to users is outdated. Both practitioners and academic institutions are knowledge creators.

‘Universities and the third sector have a shared interest in achieving impact and have different types of knowledge and expertise that they can bring to the table. There are many mutual benefits which should encourage cooperation.’

Universities, argues Professor Shucksmith, must be more open to the public and less narrowly focused.

‘Academic institutions produce highly valued evidence but this is not always readily accessible. Measures of academic success are often too narrowly focused encouraging institutions to turn inwards and away from society,’ he said.

‘A number of universities are however already engaging in activity that involve deeper interaction and partnership working with communities and the third sector and we hope this report will act as a stepping stone for more collaborative working moving forward.’

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