Communities across the United Kingdom have different social challenges and those working in Higher Education have the opportunity to share knowledge by working in partnership with them. According to a HEFCE report in 2010 it is one of the services universities offer society. The report notes five key areas Higher Education can deliver public benefit.
In no particular order:
1) Developing people to make a contribution to society
2) Innovating, informing and inspiring: opening up university knowledge, expertise and resources
3) Engaging communities and working in partnership: helping community problem solving
4) Informing public policy and the professions: helping communities engage with public policy, support civil society and deliver responsive public services
5) Stimulating local economic and social development
6) Building international connections: being anchors in the local that reach out to the global.
Area number 3 is of particular interest to my research around social exclusion. As I have written before, I like the idea of communities coming up with plans to write their own futures and residents feeling comfortable working with others for support. Could a university support a community through its expertise and impartiality?