Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement

3 July 2020


A new £3.9m national collaboration to support academic engagement with public policy will seek to support effective, sustained engagement between policy professionals and the higher education sector.

UCL has been awarded almost £4m by Research England to explore ways of improving academic-policy engagement, through the creation of Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE), in partnership with the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester and Nottingham and Northumbria, as well as Parliament, Government and policy organisations.

Nicola Buckley, Associate Director of the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge has said: ‘We are delighted to be working with UCL and the universities of Manchester, Nottingham and Northumbria to develop further ways of making interactions between policy makers and academics happen. We look forward to consulting with local and national government colleagues about the important topics regarding which we can offer collaboration.’

As the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated, the need for reliable evidence which can inform public debate and policy has never been greater. With increasing pressure on public finances, it is also vital that local and central governments can be confident that their policy interventions will be effective and successful – and academic expertise has a crucial role to play in that process.

The 3-year Capabilities in Academic-Policy Engagement (CAPE) project aims to foster and support academic engagement with policy professionals, and enable greater understanding and cooperation between universities, national government, parliament and regional and local authorities.

In addition to funding from Research England, partner institutions will be contributing further resource, bringing the total value of the project to nearly £10m. The project will support academic-policy engagement at scale and, crucially, the project will engage universities and policy stakeholders from across England. This will ensure a greater balance in the interests and expertise represented and ensure the project is addressing issues of policy beyond Westminster, to reflect the diversity of England’s communities.

The project will pilot a range of interventions to improve the quality of academic input into public policy, enabling universities to respond to emerging and pressing questions in an agile, targeted way. By working in partnership, it is hoped that both researchers and policy professionals will be able to connect experts in their field more quickly, and co-develop effective interventions based on reliable evidence.

The project will develop a range of evidence-based tools and resources to support academic-policy engagement and establish a virtual Centre for Universities and Public Policy (CUPP) to provide a collaborative platform for networking and sharing knowledge.