School of Social and Political Science

New report shows factors needed for knowledge exchange between universities and policy makers

Sub head

Researchers have identified the main factors needed by universities and policy makers to enable effective knowledge exchange between them.


The characteristics for strong knowledge exchange are outlined in a new report from the project Evaluating Academic Engagement with UK Legislatures, by Dr Marc Geddes of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science and Dr Danielle Beswick of the University of Birmingham.

The nine-month project explored knowledge exchange between UK University academics and the four UK legislatures - the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Parliament. 

To explore the factors needed to make knowledge exchange successful, Dr Geddes and Dr Beswick identified the sorts of KE activities taking place between higher education institutions, researchers and universities, and legislatures. They reported on the huge amount of efforts being made by legislatures to engage with academics, including fellowships, networking, seminars and internships.

Key findings

They have now identified a set of traits characteristic of an engaged parliament and an engaged university. You can read these key findings from the report below:

An engaged legislature:
  • has a clear KE strategy
  • actively engages with universities and professional associations to disseminate opportunities
  • shares expertise on KE with other legislatures
  • has dedicated staff time allocated to pursuing and improving KE activities
  • curates a range of activities to engage academic researchers at different career stages, from different institutions, and from different backgrounds
  • provides appropriate recognition of academic participation in KE activities
  • monitors characteristics of those participating in KE activities
An engaged university:
  • permits and supports fellowships with legislatures
  • has staff who are committee advisers
  • allocates dedicated staff time within workload models or other arrangements to facilitate KE
  • has staff who submit evidence to legislatures and participate in committee hearings
  • recognises and supports KE in its own right, not solely as a way to achieve impact
  • has dedicated internal funding opportunities for KE
  • hosts inward secondments and supports outward secondments
  • appoints officials from legislatures to steering groups and/or advisory boards
  • co-authors publications with legislature staff
  • recognises KE in workload models and in criteria for promotion
  • submits funding bids which include legislative staff as partners

The research was funded by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Accounts and supported by Research England and the UK’s four legislatures.

Read more on the Universities Policy Engagement Network blog

Dr Geddes and Dr Beswick have written a blog for the Universities Policy Engagement Network, published Tuesday 7 April, available here.