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The results of the Knowledge Exchange Framework were recently published, recognising the University of Oxford as a UK leader in Knowledge Exchange. The university performed well across many dimensions, and of course what I'm interested in... public and community engagement.

The Knowledge Exchange Framework pulled together a set of metrics and narrative statements under different knowledge exchange perspectives (e.g., public and community engagement, working with partners ranging from big businesses to small local firms, and commercialisation of  research) with the aim of "increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public funding for knowledge exchange (KE) and furthering a culture of continuous improvement in universities." 

The idea is that the exercise should help Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) improve their practices and performance, and to provide external users of research to better understand how they can access knowledge and expertise within HEIs.

To cut a long story short: we did very well. 

The KEF results were published on a dashboard, showing each institution's performance against each of the different perspectives, relative to the 'cluster' of similar HEIs, and also relative to Universities across the nation.

You can explore the University of Oxford's result, as well as those of the other participating HEIs, plus the narrative statements for public and community engagement are all available to read.

Click here to see the KEF April 2021 results.

So what does this mean?

As this is the first time we (the University and the country) have undertaken this particular exercise, it means we (Oxford and the country) can start to build a picture of the rich landscape for KE within HEIs, helping many perhaps continue to make the case that Universities contribute to the social and economic prosperity of the country.

It means we have a firm grounding to look back come the next KEF (we don't know when that will be exactly...). But, also knowing where things were just 5 or 6 years ago, I think we can safely say that we have come along way, so it's fantastic for this to be recognised and an opportunity to celebrate.

It should also help us identify areas for improvement, and track progress.

It's not clear if or how this will be used to inform funding decisions, but it might. 

Annaleise Wood (Research Services) provided the following summary on Oxford's results for the public and community engagement perspective:

  • The University of Oxford is in the top 10% for Public & Community Engagement of all UK Higher Education institutions.
  • The University of Oxford achieved the maximum possible score of 10/10 for Public & Community Engagement, which puts Oxford in the top 50% amongst Russell Group Universities (see tables below).
  • On average, members of cluster V (see footnote) are in the top 20% for Public & Community Engagement.

Key headlines from Oxford’s Public & Community Engagement Narrative Statement:

-          The University of Oxford makes a rich social contribution at a local, regional, national and global scale through public and community engagement.

-          University strategies (e.g. The University’s Public Engagement with Research Strategic Plan) provide high levels of direction and are underpinned by engagement strategies at the Divisional and Departmental level.

-          At the heart of our approach is partnership working between the University’s Academic Divisions, Research Services, Gardens, Libraries and Museums and external organisations to support staff and students to value, lead and participate in public and community engagement.

-          Our key ways of working include provision of engagement opportunities, funding, reward and recognition, training and fostering networks and partnerships. As a result, there is a flourishing ongoing programme of high-quality and impactful public and community engagement.

-          Evaluation is an established part of Oxford’s engagement programme in which we gather data, evidence, outcomes and impacts at the strategic and activity level.



Cluster V summary: Very large, very high research intensive and broad-discipline universities undertaking significant amounts of excellent research. Research funded by range of sources including UKRI, other government bodies and charities; 10.2% from industry. Significant activity in clinical medicine and STEM. Student body includes significant numbers of taught and research postgraduates.