Lancaster success for knowledge exchange

Campus in the City
Campus in the City is just one of Lancaster’s many initiatives engaging with the public

The first ever new Knowledge Exchange Framework, which measures how well universities perform in areas from business support to local regeneration, has placed Lancaster in the top twenty or thirty percent in five out of seven assessment areas, when compared to 135 English Higher Institutions.

Led by Research England, the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) allows universities to demonstrate, measure and report on the impact of research, education and engagement activities in partnership with others. This may include collaboration with local authorities, the health sector, businesses, third sector, further education colleges, local communities and more. 

In the areas assessed, Lancaster performed very strongly in five out of seven ‘KEF perspectives’ and in the top 50% for the sixth perspective. 

Lancaster was ranked in the top 20 % for its work on Working with Business, Working with the Public & Third Sector, and Local growth & Regeneration. Meanwhile Public & Community Engagement and Research Partnerships, were placed in the top 30 % and Intellectual Property & Commercialisation was ranked in the top 50 % .

The KEF, which will now be assessed on an annual basis, is the third of the Government frameworks for assessing higher education institutions, sitting alongside the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Professor Andy Schofield, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, said of the KEF performance: “I’m delighted that the inaugural results of the Knowledge Exchange Framework recognise the excellent engagement work we do here at Lancaster. Education, research and engagement are the three pillars of our Institutional Strategy, and the introduction of the Knowledge Exchange Framework is a great means by which we can now evidence our strengths around engagement and how we translate research into environmental, economic and social impact.

“We already do a tremendous amount of Knowledge Exchange activity at Lancaster, but we can always do more and certainly share our successes more widely. Our performance in the KEF is even more impressive when you consider it alongside our performance in the REF (Research Excellence Framework) for research and TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) for education and teaching - further cementing our consistent ranking in the top 10 UK universities and top 130 globally.”

Knowledge Exchange in action

Lancaster University’s Knowledge Exchange activities have an impact far and wide and none is more timely than our Health Innovation Campus (HIC) working in partnership with Lancaster Medical Practice and Queen Square Medical Practice to provide a state-of-the art environment for the local roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. More than 24,000 vaccinations have taken place at the HIC so far – a figure to be proud of and a direct example of how we are working with our local communities.

In partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, University of Cumbria, University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Manchester Metropolitan University, Lancaster University is leading on the ECO-I North West programme to support a ‘green’ recovery as the region emerges into the post-lockdown era. The aim is to provide investments that will help businesses switch to new, low carbon technologies which it’s hoped will save an estimated 3,850 tonnes of carbon emissions in total. Another excellent example of the environmental, social and social impact that can be made when businesses, the community and other universities come together.

Lancaster University has also led on a research programme in partnership with BT, aiming to revolutionise the UK digital infrastructure by creating super-resilient, data-driven networks with new technologies and methods. This infrastructure will be key for imminent developments such as 5G, virtual reality and self-driving vehicles will require a radical shift in the way our networks perform and how they are maintained.

Professor Dame Sue Black, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Engagement, commented: “I am delighted with Lancaster’s ranking position in the KEF, whilst recognising that there is always more work can be done. Exciting initiatives such as Eden Project North will contribute significantly to future iterations of the KEF as will the many new and innovative projects that we currently have in the pipeline.”

Knowledge Exchange Framework results are sourced from a number of existing submissions including the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction survey (HE-BCIs), Innovate UK and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data and other external data sources. These are supported by written narratives for the KEF perspectives of ‘Local Growth and Regeneration’ and ‘Public and Community Engagement’, alongside a wider institutional level narrative.

Where the Knowledge Exchange Framework shows what we do, the Knowledge Exchange Concordat, or KEC, evidences how we do it. The Knowledge Exchange Concordat is an agreement on how we communicate with stakeholders, how we embed good performance and how we enable improved complementarity with our collaborators. Lancaster University has signed up to the KEC and the Development Year taking place throughout 2020/21. This includes performing a self-evaluation exercise and producing an action plan that will be peer evaluated in relation to the KEC principles by the end of July 2021.

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