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Visitors & Friends
Vice-Chancellor's foreword to report on public and community engagement
As one of the world’s great universities, Oxford has an impact not only at local, regional and national levels, but also globally. Oxford academics collaborate with colleagues worldwide, on challenges of universal importance such as medicine and health care, conservation and the environment. This gives fresh substance to Oxford’s worldwide fame and reputation. And it helps to explain why the city acts like a magnet to millions of visitors from all over the world.
Their presence supports economic prosperity. But the relationship of University, city and region, goes much deeper. And it is on this relationship, and our commitment to build and strengthen it still further, that this report seeks to focus. The University makes a major contribution to almost every aspect of the economic, social and cultural life of the city and region. It is the second largest employer in the county, supporting, directly or indirectly, more than 18,000 jobs. Collectively, the University and its colleges inject some £750 million annually into the regional economy, fuelling innovation, growth and further investment.
The University also seeks to make a major contribution to improving the quality of life of people in the region through its research-led engagement in healthcare and medicine, environmental and green issues, and a host of other modern-day challenges. It also supports local projects and charities financially and in kind, with many students, academics and staff involved in volunteering in the community.
In addition, the University’s colleges and buildings, its museums and collections, its parks and gardens, and its richly varied offerings in the arts all provide a significant resource for local people and an exhilarating attraction for visitors.
Recently, the University’s museums, libraries and archives have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of their outstanding quality and their high public benefit. This is the seventh time in just eight awarding rounds that Oxford has been successful, a record unsurpassed by any other university.
Most of all, of course, we are about education. School outreach programmes run by colleges, departments and museums help to whet the appetite and raise the aspirations of young people, as does the work of our Department for Continuing Education for more mature students from all sorts of backgrounds.
If Oxford is to remain a world-leading university, it needs the understanding and support of the community. That places the responsibility on us to explain clearly what we are trying to do, and the benefits that can flow from having a great centre of learning and scholarship on the doorstep. But we also know that public and community engagement is not simply about talking; it is also about listening. That’s why we have embarked on a major consultation with local communities in order to offer the University’s neighbours a real opportunity to influence the development of its community engagement activities over the coming years.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford