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London Research and Policy Partnership

Behind the scenes of our policy fellows


Written by
Sarah Jasim & Ilias Krystallis

What are Policy Fellows?

There was a time when academics took pride in being above the day-to-day concerns of businesses, politicians and the public.  But over the last few decades university researchers and policymakers have come to see the potential in working more closely together. One way of promoting closer working is through the appointment of policy fellows, which can allow researchers to undertake work in policy organisations and policy professionals to spend time with universities. Our fellowships are being supported by the Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement initiative (CAPE), funded by Research England.

How does our Fellowship-share work?

We, Sarah Jasim and Ilias Krystallis, are CAPE outgoing policy fellows. We are both embedded part-time within the Strategy Team of the City Intelligence Unit in the Greater London Authority.

We began at the end of March 2022, and have opted for a Fellowship-share approach. This means we both spend 50% of our time as academic researchers working on research activities and supervising/teaching students, and we spend 50% of our time on our CAPE Policy Fellowship (embedded at the GLA).

We have an overlap of 1.5 days to give us a chance to attend meetings and work together on delivering our Fellowship goals. As we both have continued working as academic researchers and are also embedded in the GLA, we are able to credibly access and work with both communities.

What are we hoping to achieve as Policy Fellows?

Our overarching Fellowship goal is to develop a sustainable knowledge brokerage service within our 12-month timeframe, to improve the ways of working between academic researchers from London Higher Education Institutions and policymakers at the Greater London Authority, London Councils and London boroughs.  

More particularly, we have identified the following objectives: 

  •  To support the mobilisation of academic knowledge in London to address GLA and London borough policy priorities, through providing dedicated knowledge brokerage capability to bring together communities of practice 
  •  To increase the flow of independent academic expertise and evidence on issues of relevance to London government, and support engagement between the GLA, London Boroughs, universities in London and the wider sector to develop an effective evidence base for use in policy development and implementation 
  •  To explore options for sustainable structures for academic-policy engagement in London.  

What are the benefits to the Greater London Authority?

As Policy Fellows we can help The Mayor of London and London government access academic research expertise. We have been able to share academic knowledge and resources, bring our fresh perspective from working part-time in external organisations and open our networks. 

What are the benefits to our academic institutions? 

We can help academics better understand how public organisations such as the GLA are structured and work and connect researchers to policymakers. We have been able to facilitate introductions, explain decision making and work as conduits to facilitate information flows. 

What are the benefits to us?

As Policy Fellows, we have been warmly welcomed into the GLA’s Strategy team. Over the past few months, we have been invited to internal and external events, and accessed training and our understanding of structures and decision-making has greatly improved. Being embedded in the Strategy team and having immediate access to policy teams and resources has greatly helped to shape our understanding of what policy teams/policymakers need from the academic community, and vice versa. Through our work, we have spoken to academic researchers, academic staff and external organisations outside our respective disciplines, which has stimulated our curiosity and broadened our existing networks.  

As part of the wider cohort of CAPE Policy Fellows, we have been able to share our experiences and learn lessons from the other policy fellows – which has been an invaluable part of the experience. 

Next steps

Following an immense phase of data collection which involved surveying and interviewing more than 100 academic researchers, staff from policy teams and key stakeholders, as well as mapping the landscape of policy-academic engagement at the local and national levels, we will spend the next few months carefully analysing our data. The analysis will guide us to produce a report that identifies a series of recommendations for LRaPP to develop a sustainable knowledge brokerage function that aligns to the needs of the GLA, London Councils, London Boroughs as well as the academic community. 

The recommendations will then be pulled together into a roadmap of future actions to enable LRaPP to lobby for funding to achieve improvements in knowledge exchange. As part of our Fellowship, we will be able to pilot and test some of these recommendations. 

We are really grateful to all the academic researchers and policy teams that have taken their time to speak to us and inform the development of the knowledge brokerage service. 

If you are interested in our work, we want to hear from you!

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