Conference set to reveal benefits of knowledge exchange

Shaping the Future of Student Engagement in Knowledge Exchange will convene the 20 universities funded by the OfS and Research England to explore the issue

Participants in an initiative to explore the impact of student involvement in knowledge exchange are set to share their findings at a special conference the University of Plymouth next week (12 May).

Shaping the Future of Student Engagement in Knowledge Exchange will convene the 20 universities that received a share of £10m funding from the Office for Students (OfS) and Research England to explore the issue.

“The Student Engagement in Knowledge Exchange programme, which we’ve co-funded with Research England, is an important mechanism for us to contribute to improving employment outcomes for students and supporting local economic growth,” said Dr Brooke Storer-Church, head of skills at the OfS.

“Therefore, we would like to express our thanks to Plymouth for hosting this conference, which will enable best practice to be shared across the projects involved in such an important programme of work.”

Recognition of the importance of knowledge exchange to both academia and the wider business world has been gaining traction for some time.

Last year, Research England published the first Knowledge Exchange Framework, quantifying how universities benefit the British economy and society from a range of different perspectives, including research partnerships, enterprise, local growth, and community engagement.

The Student Engagement in Knowledge Exchange programme is an important mechanism for us to contribute to improving employment outcomes – Dr Brooke Storer-Church, OfS

Senior figures in the sector and education experts will address conference delegates, representing the institutions given a share of the OfS/Research England funding in 2020.

Projects undertaken since then include York St John University’s bringing together students with the NHS, a scheme to use sports and arts to improve mental health in the community around Edge Hill University, and Queen Mary University of London’s creation of a student-driven organisation to provide pro bono, social impact-driven consultancy to external partners.

“Knowledge exchange in a student learning context has always been regarded as a societal good, a win-win for all parties,” said Dr Bonnie Latimer, associate dean for education and student experience in Plymouth’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business. “These OfS-backed projects have enabled our institutions to look deeper at that dynamic.

“This conference will enable us to reflect, share best practice and experience, and build new networks around how student knowledge exchange can be meaningful for both students and public partners.

“In the process, it will enable us to improve how we use the Higher Education Innovation Fund, and to improve value for money for public funds.”

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