Baseline information was collated on the range of social, community and cultural engagement activities undertaken by higher education institutions (HEIs) in London. The two year HEFCE-funded project started in 2007 and had three main activities:
- Mapping engagement: semi-structured interviews between March and August 2008 with 14 London HEIs and six non-governmental organisations and regional bodies;
- Online surveys: An online opinion poll of 1,576 Londoners was conducted in October 2008 by YouGov plc;
- Focus groups: Ten sets of in-depth interviews were conducted in March 2009 with 65 members of the public by Ipsos MORI.
The project found the HE sector in London carries out substantial work with social and community benefits but these are largely unknown by the general public. London has the most diverse group of universities and HE colleges in the UK, but they are seen to be autonomous bodies with little local involvement. Finally, there is little awareness of the scale of public funding provided to the HE sector or that many of the services and facilities used by local communities are directly or indirectly provided by HEIs.