The university of the village: universities connecting with rural communities

Lead Research Organisation: Falmouth University
Department Name: Academy for Innovation and Research


University of the Village was collaboration between the Universities of Falmouth, Surrey and Glamorgan and BT and interrogated the barriers facing rural communities in accessing university outreach programmes by exploring new modes of delivery, enhanced through Superfast Broadband. Principally it explored new ways of developing and delivering provision through a partnership model of universities and rural communities working together with internet providers and other local businesses. The project also proposed a learning model which focused upon community, rather than the individual and a creative, co-designed curriculum.

The project worked with three village communities - St. Agnes (Cornwall); Ystrad Mynach (Wales); and Fernhurst (Surrey) - over a period of twelve months. The nature of the engagement differed between communities and was subject to the robustness of the broadband service, as well as additional local factors that affected the context of the engagements. There was limited success in our ability to connect the three communities together, but the project produced a set of highly successful outcomes, including additional activity within communities and insights into the benefits of superfast broadband for both universities and rural communities. It also successfully demonstrated the use of additional bandwidth to create co-presence in an online environment.


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Title Aggie's Christmas Spirit 
Description Film made by community members in St Agnes, Cornwall as part of the project. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact High number of viewings on YouTube. Public screenings in community and elsewhere. Screening at funeral of one participant. 
Title University of the Village Film 
Description Short documentary film about the project. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Led to further enquiries from other community organisations about possible participation. 
Description Following on from the film-making workshops held at The Driftwood Spars in St Agnes, the managemebnt decided to use the capacity of the new broadband service to creatively diversify their offering. This began with a wine-tasting dinner, in collaboration with St Austell Brewery, with a live link to a vineyard in New Zealand, where a winemaker introduced each of his wines, course by course, to diners in Cornwall. As the sun rose in New Zealand, it set in Cornwall and as the winegrower progressed from coffee to wine, the diners progressed from wine to coffee. The event was so successful that the pub organised a further dinner with a link to South Africa, which was followed by a beer-tasting exchange during the pub's annual beer festival. The Driftwood Spars is also a microbrewery and they exchanged beers with a microbrewery in San Francisco and hosted an online beer tasting event whereby regulars at both venues tasted and discussed each others' beers.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Cultural,Economic

Description AHRC Connected Communities Utopia Festival 2016
Amount £19,031 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 10/2016
Description Additional funding for next stage of project
Amount £19,000 (GBP)
Organisation BT Group 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2014 
End 08/2015
Description University of the Village Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Exhibition stand at AHRC Connected Communities Showcase, Congress House, London, March 2013

Part of the Connected Communities Showcase in the Congress Centre. Produced high quality exhibition material that will be used at future opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013