Released today, Enhancing the Student Civic Experience argues that universities should promote civic and democratic education for all students, regardless of their field of study.

The new report is based on input from two national workshops involving representatives from higher education, and from civil society and student organisations. It has four key recommendations:

  • Supporting democratic participation through practices such as compulsory voter registration, on-campus polling, and legislative ‘surgeries’
  • Acknowledging the student civic experience in metrics such as the Teaching Excellence Framework and the National Student Survey.
  • Refreshing Civic University Agreements to formally recognise the importance and value of the student civic experience to ‘truly civic’ universities.
  • Creating a ‘what works’ civic learning resource hub and funding further research.

The report – which was written by the Civic University Network and the UPP Foundation, with support from the Institute for Community Studies at The Young Foundation – also recommends universities and Students’ Unions should undertake an annual ‘Student Civic Health Check’ to assess levels of civic engagement and participation in systems of representation, student elections, and local democratic and volunteering networks.

‘Thriving, civic-engaged communities’

Professor Chris Wiggington, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global and Academic Partnerships at Sheffield Hallam University which leads the Civic University Network, said:

“Higher education holds incredible potential to support students to become engaged and active citizens. There is a need to promote universities as civic and democratic communities of participation to prepare them for a lifelong commitment as active citizens.”

Emily Morrison, The Young Foundation’s Director of Sustainability and Just Transition, said:

“We’re delighted to have been co-architects of this important report. It was heartening to understand the drive from students to serve their local communities, to be heard and represented, and to feel a sense of belonging to the local places in which they study, work and volunteer. We also know, from our work co-producing university civic agreements, the positive local benefits of a thriving, civic-engaged student community – as well as the benefits for the prospects, mental health and wellbeing of students. We hope the recommendations will be heard and valued in policy by the successful incoming government”.

Read the full report here.

Photo by Vishnu Prasad on Unsplash

Civil Society Education & Employment Institute for Community Studies Systems change Posted on: 17 June 2024


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