University of Oxford

KE Partnership of the Year Winner: University of Oxford National Trust Partnership

Visitors looking in wooden drawers.

Launched in 2018, the National Trust Partnership is a collaboration between Oxford University and the National Trust (NT) established to create opportunities for interdisciplinary research, knowledge exchange, public engagement and training across a range of disciplines and career levels at both institutions.

The partnership is founded upon mutual benefit and two-way knowledge exchange: It facilitates new research into NT places and collections, which in turn is embedded into public-facing interpretation and programming. Meanwhile, access to NT buildings, collections and landscapes is opened up to researchers alongside opportunities to learn from the charity’s staff, engagement with its vast public audiences, and opportunities for more impactful research to be developed. Activities take place through a range of workstreams, including research placements and consultancy, conferences, workshops, public events, staff training, PhDs and student internships.

The new collaboration grew out of the Trusted Source Knowledge Transfer Partnership running from 2016-18. Trusted Source piloted a means to bring academic research into the NT and resulted in the creation of new public web content. Engaging over 60 researchers at ten universities, Trusted Source developed a sustainable method for connecting researchers with the NT’s members and visitors and was graded 'Outstanding' by InnovateUK.

Following the initial Trusted Source funding, the collaboration has leveraged over £1.73 million to date. Now one year in, the Partnership continues to test and develop new methods for successful, sustained and mutually beneficial collaboration between academia and the heritage sector. The cultural change driven by the Partnership is opening-up new opportunities for impactful research and knowledge exchange and provides new ways of exploring the commercial value of research to the UK economy.

Image credit: Visitors look at the wooden drawers in the Muniment or Evidence Room at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. (c) National Trust Images/John Millar

Torch and University of Oxford logos.