New fellowship scheme to promote evidence-based policymaking

The UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has launched a new academic fellowship scheme to foster closer collaboration between researchers and policymakers.

Under the scheme, which is organised in collaboration with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), academics appointed as fellows will have the chance to work on projects proposed by different parliamentary offices.

Funding to support the scheme will come from universities who are awarded grants from the research councils to increase research impact. There are currently 38 institutions in receipt of these funds, and applications have now been opened to researchers at these institutions for six fellowships supporting specific projects within parliament. These include providing advice on energy and climate change to the House of Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee and helping the health committee shape the government’s childhood obesity plan. From May next year, applications will also open to academics wishing to propose their own projects.

‘At the heart of this opportunity is this coming together of academic experts, research funders and parliamentarians to really think about what are the best possible ways to engage all of our communities in research-based policy,’ said Kedar Pandya, head of engineering at the EPSRC, speaking at an event to launch the scheme in the House of Commons.

‘We very much hope the influence of the fellows will spread beyond those directly involved to develop an understanding of parliament across the academic community as a whole,’ added Norman Fowler, speaker of the House of Lords.

The scheme was launched alongside a similar fellowship initiative run by the House of Commons in partnership with the Political Studies Association, which will allow social and political scientists selected as fellows to access parliament and work on activities to improve public engagement.

House of Commons speaker John Bercow, who also spoke at the event, said he hoped both schemes would contribute to ‘informed decision making and a better informed public’.