Social Science in a Time of Change

Project Partner: University of Lancaster

Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council, UKRI

All of UK HE will be affected by the rapid, complex and successive set of changes that have impacted the HE system since early 2020. We want to be clear how the social sciences in particular are being affected – positively and negatively – and how institutions are responding.

We are seeking to document and understand the effect of these developments on the sector as a whole, differentially between the types of HE institution, and across the four UK nations. We also want to understand which of the resulting changes are likely to have a lasting impact, which will be short lived, and which, if any, social science disciplines, faculties or groups of staff are most at risk.

The project started in October 2020 and will finish in June 2022. The research examines:

  • student numbers, origins and income;
  • student recruitment strategies;
  • staff numbers;
  • pressures on staff and approaches to managing those (including staff welfare, gender and
  • Early Career Researcher/PhD student issues);
  • constraints and opportunities for faculties, departments and social science research centres;
  • research productivity and income;
  • how HE institutions are planning for these changes and, if available, their strategic responses.

The project follows a mixed methods approach. It includes in-depth interviews with senior leadership at 25 universities, analysis of HESA data, and bespoke survey data, together with a literature review. Knowledge exchange is integral to the project.

Read the September 2021 project summary update

For further information, please contact