Much has changed in the external policy environment over the past decade, but the importance of informed and applied public policy research remains as strong as ever, said Professor Nick Pearce speaking at a recent event held on campus to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the University’s Institute for Policy Research (IPR).

Welcoming colleagues and guests from across the University and beyond, Prof Pearce spoke of the impacts the IPR has had since first being established in 2013. During that time, it has worked to better connect policymakers with academic research and it has developed research agendas to meet contemporary policy challenges. “It has always been the IPR’s mission to inform policy for the public good, and that mission is as strong today as it was when the IPR was first established,” he said.

Some of the significant research projects the IPR has been involved in over recent years include work to assess the viability of Universal Basic Income; qualitative research into the impact of changes to social security, notably through Universal Credit; widening access to higher education; the urban environment and public health; and public policy responses to climate change. Each area of focus has been supplemented through an active and high-profile events series.

With colleagues from the Department of Social Policy Sciences, the IPR has also championed new courses and programmes for students. These include new postgraduate courses, such as the Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice, which is designed to enable experienced professionals to develop their policy analysis expertise without taking a career break, plus its part-time, distance-learning MSc Public Policy aimed at early career policy professionals.

Guests at the IPR's 10 year anniversary celebrations.

Top right: the three IPR Directors, Profs Hugh Lauder, Graham Room and Nick Pearce; Top Left: Nick Pearce and John Eatwell; Bottom Left and Right: Guests from across the University and beyond.

In his speech, Lord Eatwell (Chair of the IPR Advisory Board) spoke of the evolution of the IPR over its 10-year history to match unfolding challenges. Referencing its other policy fellowship and sabbatical programmes, he described the IPR as having the ability both to bring policymakers to the University, but also to take academics to policymakers. The IPR’s Policy Fellowship Programme is one example of how this approach is applied in practice.

Lord Eatwell also paid tribute to IPR founder, Prof Graham Room, and previous IPR Director, Prof Hugh Lauder, both of whom were also in attendance, along with the Vice-Chancellor and academic colleagues from across the University and beyond.