UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities


QR Policy Fund Call

The faculty has been allocated £20k by RIGE to spend on policy impact projects to help accelerate and maximise future REF Impact Case Studies aiming to have policy-specific impacts from an early stage

The aim of this accelerator funding is to facilitate the development of strong public policy focused case studies which may contribute to REF 2028.

We are inviting each department to submit one project of up to £6,000. In exceptional cases, requests for slightly more funding will be accepted where a strong and clear rationale is provided. Potential applicants must seek approval from their Director of Research before applying. Applications must be submitted using this form by 5pm Friday 13th October for consideration for the funding: https://forms.office.com/e/UiPEDdSuTP . Applications will be reviewed and selected to go forwards to RIGE by the Vice Dean RIGE (Peter Zusi), myself and Luis Rego.  We expect approximately three projects to be successful and successful applicants will be notified in November. All spend must be completed by 31 July 2024. Details and requirements/restrictions below.

Any queries to me, please: h.stark@ucl.ac.uk

Details of the fund

A key aim of the fund is to support universities to link effectively with policy research priorities and opportunities, from the local to the international. The funding supports universities in undertaking engagement with local, regional, national and international structures (including parliament, central government, devolved administrations, local government, health and education bodies, the justice system and other regulatory organisations).

Allocations may be used to build on activity already under way, and to build capacity for future activity. Relevant activity therefore includes:

  • New research activity working in partnership with policy professionals, particularly to better understand local, regional or national challenges (but not singular fundamental research);
  • Extending existing research activity with significant policy dimensions AND engagement activity;
  • Facilitating the use of existing research and the exchange of knowledge between universities and policy professionals;
  • Activity aimed at improving the dialogue between universities and policy professionals including co-production (and relevant capacity building in participatory approaches);
  • Partnerships and collaborations aimed at supporting evidence-based policy making;
  • The exchange of people and mobility schemes, e.g., policy secondments;
  • The development of policy related materials either for dissemination or in co-production with external policy partners.

Applicants can only request funds for one financial year (2023/24) and must specify how the funds will be spent in the financial year. For those requesting the funding, activities will start in November 2023 and will be concluded by 31st July 2024. Unspent funding cannot be rolled into the next year. Therefore, it is imperative that applicants explicitly outline the intended spend and timeline in their application.

Eligible costs include: Research Impact Assistant salaries, activities related to policy enabling research and data collection, engagement with policy and adjacent actors, training and development events, workshops, travel and conference attendance.

Activities which will not be supported by the fund include: Buyout of teaching and costs associated with publishing a journal article. Core research. Any other/All activities outside of policy related impact pathways.

Process: Application forms can only be put forward on the suggestion of your department and then Vice Dean Research. They will be reviewed the RIGE (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) teams and outcomes will be communicated by UCL Public Policy.

Activities that have previously received QR-PSF funding will be considered where there is evidence that previous funding has led to impact or robust relationships with key policy actors and further pump priming is needed to accelerate these.

Post award processes: Recipients will need to provide a core financial (PTA) code to spend against. All funding must be spent 31st July 2024 with no spending permitted after that date (please note that there is no facility to rollover unspent funds into the next financial year).

If you are intending to employ a Research Impact Assistant, please discuss this with your department and follow the appropriate policies and procedures. The use of Unitemps is permitted under this award and details can be found via this link https://www.unitemps.com/branches/ucl/

All other expenditure should be made through UCL approved suppliers. If you need to set up a new supplier, please be aware that this can be time intensive and requires approvals. Therefore, please engage in this process as early as possible and discuss it with your local finance officer and UCL commercial and procurement services. Information can be found via this link: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/commercial-procurement

All recipients will be required to complete a short evaluation at the end of the funding.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are research activities overseas with academic partners and non-governmental organisations permitted?

International activities are permitted within the remit of the fund but are dependent on university travel and covid restrictions at the time the researcher is due to travel. The funding can be used to address issues outside of the UK and Co-Investigators external to UCL can take part in the research/policy activities. A non-UK research assistant can be employed but they would need to be recruited via their employer which could be time consuming.

Due to the timescales involved we suggest working with NGOs (non-governmental organisations) that are UCL established partners and that due diligence processes are complete for. If you decide to proceed with a UCL non-established partner, it is your responsibility to comply with UCL’s policies and processes and undertake due diligence as soon as possible. If unsure on UCLs due diligence processes, please discuss with your department management team. You might also wish to consult this handy guide developed by UCL RIS (Research and Innovation Services) which provides helpful information on your role and responsibilities in relation to the due diligence process: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research-innovation-services/compliance-and-assurance/due-diligence

Does the project need to go on Worktribe?

No, as an internal funding call the project does not need to be costed on Worktribe, but we encourage you to do so, to provide more accurate funding figures especially if it is for a secondment or salary related expenditure.

Why is the application deadline so strict?

We are hugely sympathetic to the challenges that researchers face in trying to meet the funding call deadline, and we do appreciate that there are often genuine reasons why an application cannot be submitted on time. However, to be fair and consistent across the board and to ensure the maximum time possible for spending the funding we must decline any requests for mitigating circumstances to be considered.

Why are there only funds available to support policy work?

A key aim of the fund was to support universities to link effectively with policy research priorities and opportunities, from the local to the international. The funding supports universities in undertaking engagement with local, regional, national, and international structures (including parliament, central government, devolved administrations, local government, health and education bodies, the justice system, and other regulatory organisations). As the money comes from Research England, they are the ones to specify this and therefore UCL cannot use the funds for non-policy related work. We also must report on what the money has been spent on, so it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the projects we select for funding are closely tied to the aims of the fund.

A selection of projects previously funded from 2022-23:

  • Strengthening evidence use and co-creating agendas in domestic abuse
  • Strengthening policy impact from the COVID Social Mobility & Opportunities study (COSMO)
  • Making policy to transform inequality: a pathway to introducing Black innovation history on national curricula
  • Meeting the biodiversity challenge: exploring how to develop ‘climate-smart’ policy decisions
  • Legal Insanity and the UN (United Nations) CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) - Exploring Disability-Neutral Approaches to Mental Condition-Based Exculpation in the Criminal Law

Whilst the review of proposals is intended to be light touch, a selection of common queries at by reviewers at the review stage from 2022-2023 are included below for guidance:

  • This application needs more detail in all sections with clearer approaches, methodology and intended policy outcomes and impacts.
  • Ambitious project and set of policy activities, yet details on key tasks and pathways to impact need to be made more explicit.
  • The proposal and policy engagement needs to outline more clearly how it aligns with the aims of the fund.
  • The proposal and policy engagement needs to outline more clearly how it aligns with policy priorities (either local, regional, national, or international)

Clearer timeline of policy engagement activities is needed to demonstrate how they will meet the funding timelines/criteria