Academy teams up with Lancaster University to deliver new UK social sciences in a time of change project (funded by ESRC)

18 November 2020

UK social science – and the whole of UK higher education (HE) – is going through a period of unprecedented change, challenge and opportunity. The funding landscape has been transformed in recent years and further change is likely, HE policy is under review, and two major external shocks – Covid-19 and Brexit – are likely to have significant impacts. There are plenty of indicators – for instance in world university rankings and REF2014 – that UK social science teaching, research and research impact are thriving, but what of the future?

The aim of the UK social sciences in a time of change project is to generate ‘real time’ evidence-based insight and understanding of UK higher education institutions’ understandings of, responses to and emerging impacts of the developing challenges and opportunities that are faced by UK social science. The UK social sciences in a time of change team will produce a research report and this will be used as the basis for knowledge exchange activities in the UK and internationally.

The project is a collaboration between the Academy of Social Sciences (PI: Rita Gardner, CEO) and the University of Lancaster (PI: Professor Tony McEnery) and is funded by an ESRC Grant Award.  The Academy is taking the lead in implementation, with the research being carried out by Dr Kevin Burchell and additional support from Sharon Witherspoon (AcSS Head of Policy).

The project is being set-up in October-December 2020, the research will take place throughout 2021 and the team will report at the end of 2021. January-March 2022 will be used for the knowledge exchange activities. The project is supported by an Advisory Board drawn from across the sector and the ESRC.

The detail of the research plan is in development, but it is likely that a mixed-methods research design will draw on in-depth qualitative research, data collection on key indicators, the use of secondary data (from HESA, HESES and UCAS) and ongoing literature review and monitoring. Regular updates will be provided throughout the project.

If you would like to know more, please contact Dr Kevin Burchell at [email protected].