Giving Compass' Take:

• The University of Northampton embedded "changemaking" into its strategic plan to generate more social value in its programs and enhance graduate employability. 

• How can universities successfully participate in community engagement programs that incorporate changemaking strategies? How can donors support more universities that care about social impact? 

• Learn why the future of higher education is social impact.

In the years since the financial crash of 2007-09, and in the wake of changes in political leadership, the United Kingdom’s Higher Education policies have shifted toward measuring success through student experience and outcomes and accelerating the role of markets. With this marketization, higher education has come to be seen less as a public and more of a private good, making students more like consumers and customers. The result has been that institutions of higher education must compete against each other to ensure their financial sustainability and to consolidate their position within the marketplace. Typically, this means that each college or university must define its strengths and build on what makes it unique.

In this new environment, the University of Northampton has had to reposition itself in the higher education market, and so our challenge has been to commercialize our express commitment to social mobility, to generate social value, and to ensure financial value for the staff, students, and community. But how to bring these commitments together as part of a strategy that could both attract students and help the University meet the metrics imposed by regulations? Our answer has been to embed “changemaking”—the process of developing creative solutions to social problems—at the heart of our strategic plan, making that Northampton’s market advantage.

A relatively small, teaching-focused institution in the heart of England, Northampton has an on-campus community of approximately 11,500 students, of whom around 7,700 are UK-based undergraduates, with overseas students comprising the rest. Less than 2 percent of our students are on research degrees and a substantial proportion are “non-traditional,” whether first in their family to attend university, a low socio-economic category, or from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Read the full article about graduate employability by Rachel Maxwell & Wray Irwin at Stanford Social Innovation Review.