house-of-commons-speaker-nov-2016
John Bercow The Speaker of the House of Commons in the Speakers’s House UK

Today (Wednesday 16 November), the UK Parliament announced two new fellowship schemes that will offer academic researchers, at every stage of their career, the rare opportunity to work on specific projects from inside Westminster’s walls. Both schemes were launched at a lunchtime reception hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, and the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler.

Overview of the schemes:

  • Applications for the Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme, run by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and endorsed by the Research Councils, are open. The scheme gives academics the chance to work on specific projects proposed by offices inside Parliament, as well as enabling academics to propose their own project ideas.
  • The House of Commons Fellowship Scheme, run in partnership with the Political Studies Association (PSA), has awarded five fellowships to senior political and social scientists from universities across the UK. Fellows will have the opportunity to increase the impact of their research by working with the House Service to build public understanding of Parliament, as well as to inform, evaluate and enhance the House’s work and that of its Members.
John Bercow MP with Oxford Prospect Journalist Jolanta Ryba
John Bercow MP with Globe Prospect Editor Jolanta Ryba

The Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme is offering academics from different subject areas and at any career stage the opportunity to come and work in Parliament. Funded by monies made available to universities to increase the impact of their research (Impact Acceleration Accounts), the Scheme includes opportunities for academics to work on specific projects proposed by offices inside Parliament, as well as enabling academics to propose a project of their choosing. The Scheme is being run by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and has been endorsed by the Research Councils, in particular the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Projects available for academics to apply to are:

  • House of Lords Library: Supporting the Library in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data to monitor its performance, effectiveness and impact.
  • House of Commons Library: Supporting the Library to develop and apply a range of approaches to improve information on how its core services (enquiries, briefing papers and online) meet its customer needs and offer insights into its customers and how they work.
  • House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: Assisting the Committee in its work scrutinising the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • House of Commons Health Committee: Assisting the Committee in following up on its work on childhood obesity.
  • House of Commons International Trade Committee: Assisting the Committee in its work scrutinising the Department for International Trade.
  • House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: Assisting the Committee in its examination of constitutional issues, the quality and standards of administration within the Civil Service and scrutiny of reports produced by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.


Details about the application process can be found in Notes to Editors (below) and on Parliament’s website: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/offices/bicameral/post/fellowships/

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Helena Djurkovic, Chief Executive of the PSA

The House of Commons Fellowship Scheme, run in partnership with the Political Studies Association (PSA), welcomed its first fellows to Parliament. The five fellows, from universities across the UK, were selected for the two-year fellowships following an open call for senior political and social scientists wishing to study the work of Parliament. The fellows demonstrated how their research would help to build public understanding of Parliament’s work and help to enhance the work of the institution. Each fellow will have the opportunity to conduct primary research in Parliament and will be given access Parliament’s significant library and archive collections.

The first five fellows are:

  • Professor Margaret Arnott, University of the West of Scotland: The future of Parliament and devolution.
  • Dr Mark Bennister, Canterbury Christ Church University: Questioning the Prime Minister: How Effective is the Liaison Committee?
  • Catherine Bochel, University of Lincoln: Procedural Justice: A Fair Process for Public Engagement?
  • Dr Alistair Clark, Newcastle University: Regulating and Communicating Parliamentary Standards.
  • Professor Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield: How can Parliament deliver a restored and renewed Palace of Westminster?

Summaries of the research projects to be conducted by the fellows have been included in the Notes to Editors (below)

Applications for the next wave of House of Commons Fellows will open in 2017.

 

Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, said: “On the journey to make Parliament more accessible and better understood, these Academic Fellowship Schemes are a major step in the right direction. Not only will these intellectual heavyweights be able to use their time in Parliament to study us and share their findings with their students, colleagues and the public, but importantly, they will provide us policy-makers with a rich new evidence-base from which to draw upon in order to improve our institutions.”

Helena Djurkovic, Chief Executive of the PSA, said: “The Parliamentary Fellowship scheme opens up Westminster to the scrutiny of senior academics in an exciting and important way that will not just contribute to the quality of academic research but, more significantly, should also contribute to the process of parliamentary reform by providing the institution with evidence, analysis and insight. The Political Studies Association is delighted to have been involved with the scheme from its inception and to have helped shape its development.”

Dr Mark Bennister of Canterbury Christ Church University, one of the new House of Commons Academic Fellows, said:“This is a fantastic opportunity for academics like myself to get under the skin of Parliament and conduct research from inside the institution. It will give me access and insight into the real life workings of Westminster, and I can use that to build bridges between the public and Parliament as well as reflect it back to those who run the institution.”

Speaking on behalf of the UK Research Councils, Phil Sooben, Economic and Social Research Council Director for Policy and Resources, and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “The fellowship scheme is important because it makes it so much easier for Parliament and the research base to work together. As a result of this fellowship scheme, developed in association with Research Council funded investments at universities across the UK, researchers will be more able to carry out research in Parliament and respond to calls from Parliament for academic input.

“POST is building upon the highly successful fellowship scheme it has offered to doctoral students to offer this outstanding opportunity for researchers at all career stages to make their mark in Parliament.  We anticipate high levels of demand for this prestigious fellowship scheme and commend POST, working closely with its Research Council partners, for making this happen.”

 

Notes 

  1. For press enquiries or to arrange interviews contact Sophia Linehan – Tel: 020 7219 7394 / 07917 488 544 | Email: linehans@parliament.uk
  2. The Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme is open to all researchers (post-PhD) employed at one of the 38 Higher Education Institutions that receive funding from either the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) or the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to accelerate the impact of research (‘impact-acceleration account’ holders). The scheme is being piloted over the 2015 Parliament and will be evaluated before 2020. The number of Fellowships awarded during the pilot is dependent upon interest from academics and interest and capacity within Parliamentary offices. Academics can apply to the Scheme through two routes. It is expected that Fellowships will be between one and twelve-month duration.

 

ROUTE 1: Academics can apply to work on a project that has been specified in advance by a particular parliamentary office or department or a collaboration between departments. Up to three fellows will be taken in the pilot. Brief details of the projects available for academics to apply to are provided below:

 

  • House of Lords Library: Supporting the Library in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data to monitor its performance, effectiveness and impact.
  • House of Commons Library: Supporting the Library to develop and apply a range of approaches to improve information on how its core services (enquiries, briefing papers and online) meet its customer needs and offer insights into its customers and how they work.
  • House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: Assisting the Committee in its work scrutinising the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • House of Commons Health Committee: Assisting the Committee in following up on its work on childhood obesity.
  • House of Commons International Trade Committee: Assisting the Committee in its work scrutinising the Department for International Trade.
  • House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: Assisting the Committee in its examination of constitutional issues, the quality and standards of administration within the Civil Service and scrutiny of reports produced by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

 

ROUTE 2: Academics can propose a topic of their own choosing, which has relevance to parliament. There will be a two-stage application process for this stream. A maximum of three Fellows will be accepted in the pilot period.

 

  • Stage one. Applicants submit an Outline Application, providing a brief description of their proposed project and indicating a preferred host parliamentary office. Outline Applications will be referred to the relevant parliamentary offices, who will be asked to indicate if they are in principle interested in hosting the fellow, based on the degree of alignment between the proposal and their current and upcoming objectives. Those applications deemed to have sufficient relevance by the potential host office will be invited to submit a Detailed Application for Stage 2.
  • Stage two. Applicants selected in stage one would be invited to progress to the second stage – preparation of a Detailed Application. This would elaborate on the Outline Application and would be required to be submitted within 2 months of the date of invitation.

 

There will be separate deadlines for the two routes of the Fellowship scheme.

·         ROUTE 1 will launch on 16 November 2016. Academics will have until 16 February 2017 to get their applications in. Expected start dates for successful fellows (after security clearance) is June 2017.

·         ROUTE 2 will launch in May 2017, Academics will have until end of June 2017 to get their outline applications in. Detailed applications, where solicited will be required by end of August 2017. Expected start dates for successful fellows (after security clearance) is January 2018.

 

  1. The House of Commons Academic Fellowship Scheme, run in partnership with the Political Studies Association (PSA), is open to senior social scientists currently researching or wishing to study the work of Parliament. This includes those studying Parliament in a comparative context. Fellows gain access to the parliamentary estate and House services, as well as a designated sponsor to help facilitate their research.  Fellows will also have the opportunity to increase the impact of their research by working with the House to build public understanding of Parliament, and inform, evaluate and enhance the House’s work and that of its Members. There is no funding offered for this scheme.

 

The first five fellows from universities across the UK were selected for the two-year fellowships following an open call for senior social scientists to demonstrate how their research would help to build public understanding of Parliament’s work and help to enhance the work of the institution. Applications for the scheme will re-open next year for another wave of Fellows.

  1. House of Commons Academic Fellows’ Biographies
  2. Professor Margaret Arnott, University of the West of Scotland: The future of Parliament and devolution.
    Professor Arnott’s Fellowship builds upon her previous research on devolution, territorial politics and also post devolution devolved administrations especially in Scotland and the Westminster Parliament. In her Fellowship Professor Arnott explores the procedures and practices in the Westminster Parliament in relation its role vis a vis devolution and the Scottish Parliament as well as roles and relationships of MPs and MSPs in the light of recent political events. The research also explores current political and constitutional issues following the June 2016 UK EU Referendum affecting the devolved parliaments and assemblies and the Westminster Parliament such as English Votes for English laws and consequences of EU exit for devolution in UK including the possibility of a second Scottish Independence Referendum.  Practical issues explored during the research will be of particular interest to academic audiences and parliamentary practitioners at Westminster and in Edinburgh at a time of heightened interest in constitutional and political debates and political institutions governing the UK.
  3. Dr Mark Bennister, Canterbury Christ Church University: Questioning the Prime Minister: How Effective is the Liaison Committee?
    Since 2002, the prime minister has appeared at regular hearings before the Liaison Committee. The Committee performs an important function in scrutinising not only the whole of government strategy, directed through the prime minister, but also engaging with salient issues of the day. This research project is primarily interested in how the Liaison Committee holds the prime minister to account; a function not performed by any other Committee. The sessions have questioned three prime ministers since 2002 (and will question a fourth); they provide a rich source of material from which we can develop our understanding of the relationship between the prime minister and parliament, aside from appearances on the floor of the House. The central research questions ask how effective the Liaison Committee is in scrutinising the prime minister? How are the sessions utilised by parliamentarians, the prime minister and others? What constitutes ‘effective’ questioning by Members?
  4. Dr Catherine Bochel, University of Lincoln: Procedural Justice: A Fair Process for Public Engagement?
    Parliament is keen to encourage the public to ‘get involved’, and indeed people can now engage in a variety of ways. However, it is important that when they come into contact with Parliament their experience of the process is, as far as possible, positive.  This research uses the concept of procedural justice, with its emphasis on the fairness of the process by which decisions are made, as an analytical tool to explore public engagement with Parliament. It will explore a range of mechanisms that the public can use to engage with Parliament, and develop a framework to examine ways in which they might be seen to improve ‘fairness’ and enhance the experience. This is important because if the processes underpinning the participatory initiatives Parliament run are clearly explained, fair and transparent, and experienced as such by the public, this may contribute to public understanding of Parliament and enhance its work.
  5. Dr Alistair Clark, Newcastle University: Regulating and Communicating Parliamentary Standards.
    Integrity in standards of political behaviour are at the heart of parliamentary business. Regulation of parliamentary standards has nevertheless consistently proved a challenge, while difficulties in any parliamentary standards regime provides a further challenge in communicating what members do both in and out of parliament. This fellowship will explore how parliament has attempted to regulate standards of parliamentary and political behaviour. It will:
  6.          Examine the institutional landscape of parliamentary regulation by examining the roles and responsibilities of the various actors involved (e.g. Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA); Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; Oversight Committees in both Houses);
  7.       Research the challenges of creating an independent and effective regulator for parliamentary standards such as IPSA;

iii.      Investigate the challenges of maintaining compliance with regulation of members’ standards, from both sides of the parliamentary regulator/MP relationship;

  1.       Explore efforts to communicate the implementation of parliamentary standards regimes, both within and outside parliament
  2. Professor Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield: How can Parliament deliver a restored and renewed Palace of Westminster?
    The Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster represents both a huge opportunity and a significant challenge for the Houses of Parliament. The aim of this fellowship is to allow Matthew Flinders to not only study the internal decision-making process surrounding Restoration and Renewal but also to act as a bridge between parliament and the social sciences in order to ensure that decisions are based on a strong evidence base that utilises international best practice. This is therefore an inter-disciplinary fellowship that is committed to the notion of engaged scholarship and part of this fellowship will also be working with a range of parliamentary teams to ensure that the very best available research is used to inform and underpin a programme of informed public engagement’.
  3. The Political Studies Association (PSA) has been working since 1950 to promote and develop the study of politics. As the leading Association in our field in the United Kingdom, we have an international membership including academics in political science and current affairs, theorists and practitioners, policy-makers, journalists, researchers and students in higher education. Find out more at www.psa.ac.uk or @PolStudiesAssoc.
  4. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, which has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations. www.rcuk.ac.uk

 

The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
  • Medical Research Council (MRC);
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. It also develops and trains the UK’s future social scientists. ESRC research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  2. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research. Its vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, the EPSRC is building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Its portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research it funds has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. The EPSRC works collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. www.epsrc.ac.uk

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