Policy Update – September 2022

Sharon Witherspoon MBE FAcSS, Head of Policy, Academy of Social Sciences 

HE policy and Government leadership changes

The new Prime Minister will be in place on September 6, and new ministers announced shortly after that.  HE policy, including research funding and policy, are likely to continue largely as now.  That means it is unlikely that there will be changes to student funding or to Office for Students regulations on continuation, graduation and employment. The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech Bill) has passed all its stages in the House of Commons, and now awaits the final stages in the House of Lords; the aim seems to be to complete these before the current Parliamentary session ends.

A’Level results 2022

All the evidence about A-level and Higher Exam results shows that social science uptake remains strong, and achieves good results in university admissions.  Our Social Sciences in a Time of Change report shows that continued attention to skills and outcomes can only be a good thing for the social sciences.

Future of funding for international social science research

It looks ever more likely that the UK will have to resort to its own funding for Horizon projects.  Projects that have already been accepted will receive funds but there may be different rules for what sorts of UK-international research may be eligible in future.  This could affect social sciences.  A further set of uncertainties surround UKRI future funding programmes – the social sciences did well from mission-driven research strategies, which were especially important since ESRC funding is largely flat. Much will depend on whether new Secretaries of State return to mission-based funding streams.

Our forthcoming report sponsored by SAGE Publishing shows just how important such streams are not only for social science and STEM joint projects, but to build the infrastructure and incentives for longer-term collaborations.  A key point is that such research collaborations are not only important for social science funding, but are essential if real progress is to be made in addressing climate change, health, artificial intelligence, and other issues.

Contact us

Write to policy@acss.org.uk and let us know if you have suggestions or ideas about our message, or to suggest future topics we should explore.