Eight research projects at the University of Bath have been awarded funding from the Quality Research Strategic Priority Fund (QR SPF) from Research England, under UKRI.

A total of £29.1 million was distributed to eligible institutions, proportionate to their research income, in financial year 2020-21. The main aim is to support universities to link effectively with policy research priorities and opportunities, from local to international.

This year the majority of the University’s priority funded projects are focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. From Bath this includes a project led by Dr Matt Dickson, Reader in Public Policy at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), with Dr Predrag Lazetic in the Department of Education.

They are assessing the risks of un- and underemployment for Higher Education graduates in the COVID-19 labour market. Through studying graduate labour market outcomes of previous generations, they will determine the factors which increase the risk of poor graduate outcomes.

Dr Matt Dickson says:

The UK had a significant issue of graduate underemployment even before the pandemic: more than one third of UK graduates are underemployed, compared to less than 20% in Scandinavian countries and Germany. Both unemployment and underemployment can have long-term effects for the graduates themselves and also negative implications for economic growth, so it is very important this is addressed.

Other COVID-19 related research, also from the IPR, is being led by Dr Geoff Bates, Research Associate, with Professor Nick Pearce, Director of the IPR, and David Young, Research Assistant.

They are working with Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) on their health and wellbeing advice service, free and independent to those who need it. The project will assist local decision makers in Bath, including the Local Authority and the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), in making decisions about the role that advice services play in the local health and care system.

Dr Geoff Bates says:

Concerns over widening health inequalities, welfare and uncertainty relating to employment and work conditions have been enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Advice services have a critical role in providing support and we will look at evidence on the health and wellbeing impact of these services and how these are experienced by those who use them.

From the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), recipients receiving the QR SPF funding are:

  • Professor Julie Barnett, Associate Dean for Research, to look at digital technology as a means of facilitating social connection and reducing loneliness in the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Dr Fiona Gillison, Head of Department of Health, to maximise virtual consultations in hospital care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones, Department of Social and Policy Sciences (SPS), to develop a Faculty wide Policy Lab initiative to approach policy issues using innovative design orientated methods

Our shared future initiative

Three further QR SPF funded projects are also part of the ‘Our shared future’ initiative. These are being led by:

  • Dr Charles Larkin, Director of Research for the IPR, who is evaluating the Connected Communities Hub (CCH) in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) which supports urgent social, economic and health needs amongst the residents of BANES during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Dr Paul Shepherd, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE), who aims to create a robust “Digital Twin” infrastructure, which the University and BANES can use as the basis for ongoing research collaboration in evidence-based policy-making
  • Dr Victoria Stephenson, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE), who will work with BANES to decarbonise the region’s building stock and reduce carbon footprint

The QR SPF allocations were distributed from Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath.

Caroline Quest, Director of Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University, says:

We are delighted that such a range of our research was prioritised with funding from Research England, enabling us to influence regulatory organisations with our informed and progressive policy changes.

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