A new report by University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR), University of Bristol, PolicyBristol, Cardiff University, and the University of Exeter, calls for the establishment of a new National Centre for Universities and Public Policy, to support an ongoing culture change around valuing academia-policy engagement.
The report, which seeks to improve the understanding of the policy engagement experience for UK-based researchers, uses findings from a GW4-funded project to further understand the challenges and motivations that face both the ‘demand-‘ and ‘supply-side’ of research engagement.
In doing so, authors of the report – Lindsay Walker, Lindsey Pike, Chris Chambers, Natalia Lawrence, Marsha Wood and Hannah Durrant – suggest a number of key recommendations for academic-policy initiatives, including:
- Universities to identify mechanisms to recognise the value of policy engagement within workload models, professional development and career progression evaluation frameworks.
- Policymakers and parliamentary staff to create guidance and resources for academics seeking to engage with policymaking processes, tailored to the requirements of different opportunities for engagement.
- Policy and parliamentary processes to be more transparent with how research evidence is used and to provide clear acknowledgement of research contributions.
The key recommendation of the report is to create a National Centre for Universities and Public Policy, to implement these changes and facilitate strategic impact from UK-funded research.
Marsha Wood adds:
“Developing a centre for policy engagement to develop and share best practice has the potential to address many of the challenges facing academic researchers today, and lead to a more meaningful collaboration with policymakers.”
The report acknowledges this recommendation could build upon existing initiatives, such as the University Policy Engagement Network (UPEN), the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, and the National Centre for Universities and Business.
Stephen Meek, Director of the University of Nottingham Institute for Policy and Engagement, and Chair of UPEN for 2019-20, adds:
"This is an important and timely report which sets out with great clarity the challenges around academic-policy engagement and offers some useful ideas for how we might seek to overcome them."
"I look forward to working with the GW4 universities, the rest of the UPEN membership, and colleagues from across the policy world to ensure we respond to its proposals and improve evidence-informed policy making across the UK."