UCL Public Policy


Engaging with Select Committees Audrey Tan

Engaging with the world of public policy at first can seem daunting, as it’s often difficult to know where to start.

An image of Audrey Tan

22 June 2019

In my Engagement Facilitator role within UCL Public Policy, I’m often involved in putting together responses for UCL for parliamentary Select Committees. Whilst responses can be made by a university, they can also be made by individuals.

They are a great first step for researchers looking to engage with parliament as they set out the evidence needs and provide a defined route for engagement. In order to identify applicable inquiries, I joined the mailing lists and followed the Twitter accounts of relevant Select Committees, such as the Commons Science and Technology (S&T) Committee.

I also consulted the list of current inquiries and discovered that the S&T Committee had launched one into ‘Coronavirus: lessons learnt’. From the title it seemed very relevant, but there wasn’t much information within the call itself. So, I arranged a telephone call with a Committee Clerk; this conversation provided me with key details around evidence gaps as well as an opportunity to bring UCL researchers to the attention of the Clerks.

After this call, it was clear that the submission needed to include a body of evidence, rather than a single study, so I contacted UCL researchers about relevant sections of the inquiry and asked how they thought their research could contribute.

I then consolidated the responses into a single written submission. To ensure this was effective, I followed the Parliament guidance and drew on insights from my colleagues. Through my experience in responding to a range of inquiries, I found that it’s best to keep the submission short, putting the important points in a summary on the front page and highlighting key recommendations through bolding text. It’s also vital to ensure that the evidence presented answers the questions set by the inquiry. As evidence submitted to parliament becomes a public document published on their website, this is a really beneficial way of demonstrating your impact.

You can also monitor impact by checking whether your evidence has been cited in the Committee’s final report, or if a member of your team has been called to give oral evidence. It’s been brilliant working on the public policy team at UCL, and seeing first-hand how evidence can help to shape policies, and how research can have an impact in the real world. Most recently, I provided editorial support to the European Institute’s response to the House of Lords European Union Committee’s inquiry into future UK-EU relationships; this submission was heavily cited in the Committee’s report, which was fantastic to see.

If you need help or advice with a submission, the UCL Public Policy team and I are happy to help – so please do get in touch. More examples of submissions led or supported by UCL Public Policy and colleagues from across UCL can be found on the UCL Public Policy website.