Engaging with local communities: University of Exeter establishes a new Community Panel

In 2021 the University of Exeter signed a Civic University Agreement with Exeter City Council, Exeter College, and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, committing to the following calls to action:

-          Support the sustainable and inclusive growth of the city

-          Deliver a net zero Exeter

-          Build a city of aspiration and opportunity

-          Support an ambitious culture and tourism offer

-          Enhance the health and wellbeing of our citizens

As part of its commitment to these actions, the University has developed a Community Panel to help identify local issues, challenges and opportunities, and to support the development of an annual plan of community engagement. The Panel consists of local representatives as well as student community wardens – students whose role is to keep an eye on community relations and student welfare in the key Exeter wards where there is a high proportion of student housing.

University of Exeter student wardens

The Panel is a way for the University to listen to and engage with the local community and be more responsive to the needs of all social groups. The panel can help to prioritise research, projects and campaigns that respond directly to local needs; suggest new initiatives to promote cohesion between students and the wider community; and consider ways to promote work undertaken as part of the Civic University Agreement to local communities. Discussions in the Panel so far have focused on issues such as how to raise awareness of the climate crisis in local communities, and how to support small businesses to meet Net Zero targets.

The University is also implementing a new Community Fund, offering grants of up to £300 for projects linking students, local residents, community organisations and local agencies. Local community representatives as well as students are invited to apply.

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