Community relations

Engagement with the city of Edinburgh and its communities continues to be a priority for the University.

Community relations
Students are provided with opportunities to learn through creative and innovative approaches. Students visited a Materials Recovery Facility to learn about waste management at the University. Photo by Joseph Farthing.

As well as acknowledging our heritage as the ‘tounis college’ - the first university in the United Kingdom to have a civic foundation, we recognise that the symbiosis between a strong, prosperous and vibrant city and university is a vital element in attracting students, staff and investment and in enhancing the quality of life in the city.

The University makes a significant and wide ranging contribution to the city, Scotland and beyond, recently demonstrated by figures from BiGGAR Economics which confirmed that in the academic year 2013/14 the University of Edinburgh generated £2 billion of gross value added (GVA) for the Scottish economy, supporting more than 31,000 jobs across the country, and that for every £1 received from the Scottish Funding Council, in the form of awards and grants, we generate £9.53 for the Scottish economy. In relation to the city of Edinburgh, the University’s impact is £1.2 billion GVA, supporting 22,767 jobs.

As part of developing a new and more strategic approach to community engagement, an audit of activity by staff and students strongly demonstrated the important educational, economic, social, cultural, international and reputational benefits accruing to the city and the potential for a more co-ordinated approach to deliver greater value and opportunity for both partners.

Through a process of regular and enhanced dialogue, key challenges are being addressed, particularly the impact on the city of increased student numbers and the accommodation required to house them, and the need for refining communication with local communities when major estates programmes are being delivered. In turn, the University has been a crucial player in working with partners across the city region to put together a City Deal bid.

Staff, students and alumni form a significant section of the community in Edinburgh and the University continues to work closely with community organisations, Neighbourhood Partnerships and local councillors to strengthen relationships and build trust. In addition to formal meetings, this is achieved through the many and various interactions across the University between staff, students and the public; through volunteering and fundraising initiatives; through the Office of Lifelong Learning and our comprehensive public events and sporting programmes; and through the huge range of projects with schools and youth groups.

We are developing improved ways of collating this activity so we can better tell these wonderful stories and find new opportunities for mutually beneficial engagement.