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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Help shape UCL’s Strategic Priorities

By Briony Fleming, on 26 January 2022

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Share your thoughts on UCL’s proposed new strategic plan and encourage your external partners to do the same.

As you may know by now, UCL is consulting on a brand-new five-year strategic plan and is keen to get feedback from both the UCL community and the external partners and communities that we work with. We also know that a) asking our external partners to plough through all the consultation papers and b) expecting them to be able to understand the relevance to their contexts and communities, unaided, is pretty unrealistic. So, Co-Production Collective, based within UCL Engagement, decided to try and accessibly summarise those elements which set out UCL’s ambitions for partnership working, particularly in relation to the future of the Grand Challenges programme.

Abstract image of some material in a petri dish in bright colours, with the words 'Evolving the UCL Grand Challenges' underneath

We want to widen this ask to reach as many people interested in or involved in partnership working across UCL and beyond, so we have two asks for you:

  1. Can you help us spread the word to the external communities you work with and encourage them to tell us what they think about UCL’s proposals?
  2. Can you share what you think about the plans to embed “partnership for change” in UCL’s future DNA?

We will then do our best to represent all the feedback we receive as part of the formal response we submit with Co-Production Collective.

If you don’t already know, Co-Production Collective, is a co-production community where everyone is welcome. Together we learn, connect and champion co-production for lasting change. Co-Production Collective exists to support co-production across research, policy and practice, bringing together a diverse community of over 1800 co-producers with lived and learnt experience, including many UCL colleagues.

We now want to extend the invitation, to you and your partners, to share your thoughts and feedback about the potential role of communities, co-production and collaboration. One of Co-Production Collective’s four ambitions for 2020-2022, as laid out in our co-created strategy, is to ‘Lead Culture Change’ to influence individuals, organisations and systems to put co-production at the heart of everything they do. This consultation on the strategic plan is a brilliant opportunity to do just that – read on to find out how you can get involved.

About UCL’s new strategy

Beginning in October 2021 and finishing at the end of April 2022, UCL senior management is publishing a series of consultation papers on its whole-university priorities for the next five years, and asking people inside and outside UCL for their views. UCL Engagement, whose work focuses on enabling brighter ideas through deeper connections with communities outside UCL, is keen to make it easier for our external partners and the communities we work with to engage with the process and give their feedback. This is especially important in relation to how partnership working will be developed and supported.

Three papers have come out so far and there are more to come! We’re not expecting you to plough your way through all of them (though if you want to you can find them on the UCL website) but what we have tried to summarise, in non-academic language, the elements which relate most closely to UCL’s ambitions for partnership working with communities locally, across the UK and globally. This focuses on helping to solve what UCL refers to as “Grand Challenges” – some of the biggest challenges facing the world and affecting communities at local, national and global scale.

The four proposed Grand Challenges are:

  • Climate crisis
  • Inequalities
  • Data-empowered societies
  • Living well and mental wellbeing

You can read our summary paper highlighting the areas of the consultation on the strategic plan we think are most relevant to our external communities, available as a PDF and as an accessible Word version.

Key questions

We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in reaction to the proposals so that we can feed them back to UCL by the next consultation deadline in early February.

As you might expect at this early stage, there are quite a lot of words in the papers which set out UCL’s aspirations around partnership working but fewer details about the practicalities of making this a reality. Nevertheless, three questions below might spark ideas for you but, of course, feel free to tell us your thoughts on anything else too.

  1. What do you see as the potential for external communities and the organisations which work on their behalf to contribute to UCL’s proposed future plans?
  2. Do you feel that the proposed UCL Grand Challenges research areas are reflective of the issues that affect your life, work, research, or teaching?
  3. Do you feel there are missing issues or questions which you would like UCL to consider as it develops its proposals for embedding partnership working with communities?

How to get involved

There are a few different ways you can get involved, but they all start with reading this summary document – available as a PDF and accessible Word document.

Once you’ve had a chance to read this, please could you share your response to the questions above, and anything else you’d like to share, via our online form.

If you would prefer, you’re welcome to email your response instead, to coproduction@ucl.ac.uk. You can also give the Co-Production Collective team a ring too.

The deadline for responses is Monday 7th March .

What will happen next?

Once we have received all the responses on 1 February, we’ll be collating them into one document which will be submitted to the UCL strategic plan consultation. We’ll update the blog with this document once it’s ready and share any other updates as we have them.

This is also only one of the various areas UCL will be consulting on as senior leaders develop the new strategic plan. We would like to continue including you in the conversation and will be exploring other ways we can do this too.

Thank you

There’s a lot of information here and a very short timeline, so we really appreciate you taking the time and energy to contribute. This is a real opportunity for UCL Engagement, the Co-Production Collective community, and all those who care about partnership working as a way to improve people’s quality of life. It’s a chance to have an influence on UCL’s priorities and move closer towards a world where diverse knowledge and experience is recognised and valued in research – and beyond.


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