Policy engagement and impact

Would you like to learn about how policy makers can use your research to make real world change? And how policy engagement can help to inform your research? That’s what the University of Sheffield’s Knowledge Exchange Policy Engagement Team is here for.

Sheffield Peace Gardens

Our team identifies, creates and promotes opportunities for researchers at every level to engage with policy makers, raising awareness of the various ways this can be achieved and the research impact this can help generate. Connecting academic research to policy makers - at the local, national and international levels - can lead to better, evidence-informed policy outcomes with stronger societal impacts. The team is equally enthusiastic about supporting our students to gain vital experience in policy work while studying at Sheffield. 

Support for researchers

Our team supports researchers across the University, working closely with the dedicated Knowledge Exchange teams for each Faculty to create policy engagement opportunities and generate impact potential. We are particularly focused on supporting academics working in the University’s institutional priority impact themes.

We support Sheffield researchers to connect with relevant policy makers in a variety of different ways, from brokering a conversation with a policy team through to support with applying for placements and secondments. We can help researchers gain access to relevant networks in local, national and international government, advising on the best ways to present your research to make it as relevant as possible to policy makers and building your understanding on the best ways to do this.

  • Sheffield Policy Campus - The Policy Campus is about creating opportunities and connections for Sheffield-based researchers and civil servants to collaborate on policy making, enhancing the policy evidence base and improving outcomes. Sheffield is the largest centre of policy making outside of London, with around 1,000 civil servant policy makers based in the city. The Policy Campus brings together the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, and Sheffield and Barnsley Colleges with local government and regional offices of central government departments, including the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). The Policy Campus initiative also aims to create exciting and dynamic policy career options for our graduates

Support for students

Through the partnership we have the following high profile opportunities (all of which come with a financial bursary) for undergraduate students to gain paid work experience in the Civil Service right here in Sheffield.

Easter Internships (exclusive to the University of Sheffield)

Two-week internships for students with little to no work experience to gain hands-on project work experience in the Civil Service. Projects are typically hosted in the Department for Education (DfE), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and some other Government agencies in the region, working on live project briefs whilst being linked to a senior supervisor. For the 2023/24 academic year, 26 of our students secured these opportunities.

Summer Placements (exclusive to three partner universities)

10-week paid placements at the Department for Education (DfE) or Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through which students are embedded in the Sheffield Policy Teams and work on live policy assignments with colleagues from Yorkshire and London. For the 2023/24 academic year, 22 students from the University of Sheffield secured these opportunities. 

Year-long Placements  (exclusive to three partner universities)

Year-long paid placements give students the opportunity to work as Policy Officers in the Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). For the 2023/24 academic year, five students from the University of Sheffield were offered a placement to start in August 2024. 

Tailored support is offered to students who want to engage with the above opportunities, and a pipeline has been created to ensure we give students the best possible chance of succeeding. This includes:

  • Policy Challenge: A simulation day led by the Head of Long-Term Strategy at the Civil Service where students act as Policy Advisers to the government.
  • Civil Service panel event: Students hear from representatives at the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Department for Education (DfE), Home Office, and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to gain insights into local and national government.
  • Intensive 1:1 placement application support: This support has proven very successful: of the 36 summer and year long placements provided to the University of Sheffield and two other Universities, we worked with students to secure 27 (75%) of these opportunities.

Over the past few years, we’ve built an excellent relationship with the University of Sheffield Sheffield Policy Campus Team, particularly the student skills lead, to deliver a range of outreach and engagement sessions with students, culminating in the summer internships and 12-month placements. This is central to our work to develop a future talent pipeline into the Civil Service across our northern hubs and is the flagship offer within the Sheffield Policy Campus. The quality of students has been consistently high, and they have brought energy, enthusiasm and fresh perspectives to key work areas in the DWP and the DfE."

Sophie Malendewicz, Head of Long-Term Strategy, DWP

Hear from student Sana about her experience at the DfE

Support for policy makers

We connect academics to policy makers and provide support with consultation responses, bespoke briefings on Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) and other related areas. 

Examples of our work with policy makers

About the team

The team is led by experienced public policy and KE professional, Jennifer Watson. Jennifer is a member of the larger Major Projects & Partnerships team in the Research, Partnerships & Innovation (RPI) directorate. Social Sciences Employability Manager Sarah Hunter leads our policy skills placement programme for students, and we work closely with RPI’s regional engagement team and the university’s central Policy Team who lead our work on Higher Education policy.

Get in touch

To receive updates and information about future policy engagement opportunities, please email the team here collaborate@sheffield.ac.uk.

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