About the University

Newcastle as a Civic University

Newcastle's Role as a Civic University

Part of our role as a university is to respond to the needs and demands of civil society. Universities are not there simply to confer a private benefit, they should also serve as a public good.

For us, the question is not only 'What are we good at?', but also 'What are we good for?'.

Answering these two key questions is the hallmark of a world-class civic university:

  • world-class lies in the arena of publications, citations, international presence, reputation and esteem indicators
  • civic university lies in the arena of responding to the challenges facing civil society

Responding to real-world challenges

Newcastle University is relevant and responsive to real-world challenges: global,  local, or a combination of the two.

To aid our research we harness the enthusiasm, experience and expertise of groups such as:

  • the voluntary and community sectors
  • our staff and students
  • patients
  • businesses

Positive impact on society

The positive difference we make to the city of Newcastle and the wider North East is a critical part of our role as a civic university. We also go far beyond the local to make an impact on society globally.

As a truly civic university we have a strong sense of place. While we operate on a national and international scale, we recognise the extent to which our location in the city of Newcastle helps to form our unique identity.

Contributing to the economy

As the North East’s fourth largest employer, the University is an anchor institution in the economic and social life of the region. Annually we contribute almost £700 million to the regional economy and over £1 billion nationally.

We ensure that our buildings, campuses and public spaces are designed in ways which improve the fabric of the city and can be enjoyed by local people. This is particularly true of our museum and art gallery. The Great North Museum: Hancock and Hatton Gallery are both free to the public and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Global societal challenge themes

The best demonstration of our civic university role is in the development of our societal challenge themes of Ageing, Social Renewal and Sustainability. We now group a significant part of our research under these themes.

The themes were chosen using three clear principles. They must be:

  • issues where we are able to contribute real expertise
  • topics of major global interest but which have significant resonance in our own country
  • areas in which we have developed genuine engagement with the public and stakeholder communities, so that we have a deep understanding of the issues they face

Our commitment to tackling these societal issues embodies our mission of being a world-class civic university.

The Impact of a World-Class Civic University

The Impact of a World-Class Civic University (PDF: 1.2MB) features interviews with some of our leading academics and shows how we apply academic knowledge to come up with solutions that make a difference.