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Welsh universities to build on world-leading work with communities through new framework

The Guardian Statue at Six Bells

Universities in Wales have today launched a new civic mission framework to help universities build upon the ways they work with people, schools and communities. This new tool will support universities in delivering significant economic and social benefits by connecting more closely with communities across Wales and further afield.

The first of its kind in the UK, and the first in the world to have all universities in a nation signed up to it, the Framework has been developed by Wales’ Civic Mission Network to prioritise civic mission and strengthen connections with the communities around them.

Universities in Wales have long been rooted in their communities, with a proud history of working with people, public services and business.

In the Civic Mission Framework, universities have an effective tool that will enable them to continue and build on this work to support our communities in much needed areas to help create a more resilient and equal Wales.

Lynnette Thomas, Deputy Director of The Open University in Wales and Chair of the Civic Mission Network

The Framework enables universities to share best practice in developing and delivering civic mission projects and supports the sector in demonstrating the positive impact of its civic mission work.

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is at the heart of the Civic Mission Framework, with the seven wellbeing goals from this unique legislation forming the key principles to inform and guide how universities contribute to civic mission in Wales.

The Framework was officially launched at Universities Wales’ Civic Mission Showcase, with Wales Education Minister, Kirsty Williams MS, providing the keynote speech.

“Today is an important landmark for the sector and for me personally – this framework has been developed in, by and for Welsh universities and our people and places," said Kirsty Williams. “I want to congratulate the Civic Mission Network and express my appreciation that HEFCW has been able to support it."

“By formalising the role and promotion of civic mission in legislation we are on the verge of something very exciting."

“I am confident that we have a sector that is strong in its sense of shared values, of the common good, of being stewards of community and country and hope that, in the next period, we will see an even stronger commitment to civic mission.”

The online event also featured a series of case studies highlighting the activities undertaken by Welsh universities to benefit their local communities and the wider world – from leading a national Covid-19 wastewater monitoring project, to providing support to older people experiencing domestic abuse.  

"The disruption of Covid-19 has shown that universities in Wales have a unique capacity to pull together and deliver real impact across communities in times of need," added Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales. 

“Universities in Wales recognise that the nation faces a myriad of challenges over the coming years and that their role in equipping the nation to respond to those challenges must be a strategic priority. They will continue to prioritise civic mission and engage in conversation with leaders across their regions to tackle key societal changes and deliver positive outcomes for their communities.”

Case study: The Blaenau Gwent REACH Project

The Blaenau Gwent REACH project run by The Open University in Wales in partnership with Linc Cymru Housing Association and Aberbeeg Residents’ Group supports Blaenau Gwent residents to engage with the arts, community and heritage.

There are plans to grow the project in all areas of Wales. 

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