How does the political economy influence the evolution of science funding in sub-Saharan Africa?

Despite increasing understanding that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is important for achieving economic growth and reaching development goals, STI in sub-Saharan Africa still suffers from research policy, management and funding challenges. A new policy brief, based on research led by Professor Joanna Chataway (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit), explores the economic and political context in which Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in sub-Saharan Africa function, the challenges they face and how these can be overcome.

The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) was set up to support SGCs in fifteen sub-Saharan countries. The research examined SGCs in five case study countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal. The brief investigates the recurring key themes and issues which were evident across case studies such as the role of governments, human resources and the private sector. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Tensions and Care in Moderation Work: Insights from the online platform ‘Care Opinion’

Dr Dimitra Petrakaki (Department of Business and Management) has released a policy brief exploring the moderation of patient feedback on the online platform ‘Care Opinion’. The brief presents results from in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with twelve employees of Care Opinion in 2017.

Care Opinion offers patients the chance to share their experience of healthcare encounters with peers and to feedback to healthcare providers. Patients’ feedback takes the form of a story that is moderated prior to being published on the platform and subsequently becomes publically available. The moderation process involves patient stories being tagged with keywords and given a score to assess their level of criticality. Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

Boosting Productivity and Agricultural Wages in India

Dr. Sambit Bhattacharyya (Department of Economics) has released a policy brief exploring the impact of the world’s largest public works program – the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) – on agricultural wages across 19 Indian states.

The MGNREGS scheme grew from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), passed in 2005 by the Government of India’s Ministry of Law and Justice. The Act is a labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee employment to those in rural areas. As part of the MGNREG scheme, households in rural regions are provided with at least 100 days of wage employment carrying out unskilled manual work.  Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

Improving the effectiveness of the UK’s medical innovation ecosystem

In light of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy’s ambitious goals, Dr Michael Hopkins (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit) sets out to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s medical innovation ecosystem in a new policy brief.

Drawing on research findings published in his book Science, the State and the City (Owen, Hopkins. 2016), Dr Hopkins looks at the success of US biotech firms to understand where the UK’s life sciences industry is falling short.

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Humanitarian Corridors: safe and legal pathways to Europe

Professor Michael Collyer and Dr Fabio Petito (School of Global Studies, University of Sussex) have released a policy briefing on the Humanitarian Corridors initiative – a new way of helping vulnerable refugees that is gaining momentum in Europe.

Launched in Italy in 2016, the project was a response to the growing number of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to reach mainland Europe. It is run by religious organisations, in partnership with the government, but no state funding is required. In March 2017, the French government signed a similar agreement, proving that it is a replicable model that can be adapted to suit other countries. Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

English language for resettled refugees

Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Linda Morrice, has been investigating the importance of providing resettled refugees* in the UK the opportunity to learn English.

English language learning for resettled refugees is currently delivered through English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) programmes. To date ESOL policy and provision has been focused on employability. However, there are many other benefits associated with the provision of English-language learning opportunities.

In this new Policy Brief, Linda shows that access to English language courses can help resettled refugees integrate with the settled population. It can also increase resettled refugee’s confidence when they engage with public services, improve the quality of contact experiences with other people, be empowering, lead to greater satisfaction in work or education and improve health and wellbeing. Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

An infrastructure evolution – The NIA: A transformative opportunity for UK infrastructure

By Dr Ralitsa Hiteva, Research Fellow at SPRU (University of Sussex)

A new policy brief discussing the transformative potential of the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) has been published by the SPRU Infrastructure team. The key message of the policy brief is that – to realise its transformative potential – the NIA needs to be based on a forward-looking, innovative and systemic approach. It advocates developing a systemic approach building on interdependence, and a systemic NIA methodology.

The brief responds to the UK government and industry agenda on creating a more strategic vision for UK infrastructure and introducing more coordination between different infrastructure institutions, projects and objectives. The National Infrastructure Commission was set up in January 2016 to analyse the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs, outline a strategic vision over a 30-year time horizon and set out recommendations for how identified needs should begin to be met, through the publication of a NIA once per Parliament. This policy brief summarises the key points from the ICIF response to the NIA consultation submitted on 5th August 2016. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB): Recognising our differences can be our strength

At a time when violent extremism, religious discrimination and oppression are making daily headlines, research led by Dr Fabio Petito (School of Global Studies, University of Sussex) seeks to guide Europe and North America’s next steps in Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) advocacy.

Upon completion of a collaborative trans-Atlantic research project funded by ‘Bridging Voices’ (British Council), the findings of the research have been encapsulated in a policy briefing to raise awareness of the research and facilitate policy engagement.

In the briefing, Dr Petito urges the need to recognise diversity as a potential asset. For example, despite a range of different church-state arrangements across Europe, there is widespread agreement on the core elements of FoRB – a powerful demonstration that a wide variety of historical and cultural factors can lead to robust religious freedom. Read more ›

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Posted in Equality and Diversity

Exploring the meaning of ‘energy security’ in the United Kingdom

By Claire Copeland, Research Assistant, Policy@Sussex

SPRU researcher Emily Cox has conducted a thorough analysis of what is meant by the term “energy security” in the UK. In this policy brief she examines a range of definitions with implications for energy policy.

Most people, certainly in the UK and other developed countries, can understand that a secure energy system is vital for our day-to-day functionality. The UK government are also often using the term “energy security” as justification for particular actions or policy direction. exploring-the-meaning-of-energy-security-in-the-united-kingdomHowever, if asked to define “energy security” people are likely to provide different answers. Emily sought to find the key factors underpinning the meaning of “energy security” with a particular focus on the transition to a low-carbon energy system. The data for her analysis is collated from the literature and interviews with 25 UK energy experts from a range of organisations and backgrounds.

Generally, “energy security” tends to be used in the context of energy self-sufficiency or dependence on energy sources from unstable regions. The transition to a low-carbon energy system – where there will be a higher proportion of intermittent renewable sources – adds a necessary further dimension to the definition of “energy security”.

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Posted in Energy and Environment

Nuclear industry in the UK: Back to the future?

By Claire Carter, Research Assistant for Policy@Sussex

In the 50th anniversary year of SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex), Dr Phil Johnstone looks at the history of its research in the UK nuclear sector.

In light of the government’s recent go-ahead for the controversial Hinkley power station – and a commitment to allocating 50% of its energy research to nuclear over the next five years – Dr Johnstone’s report comes at a pivotal time.


Dr Johnstone argues that history is in danger of repeating itself, with plans in the UK to build at least three new reactor types, as well as plans for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) that are commercially unproven. Nuclear economics has always been a hotly debated topic for SPRU’s Professor Gordon MacKerron, who was critical of the government’s optimistic cost appraisals for nuclear new builds in the 1980s and 1990s. Professor MacKerron explains that increases in costs, due to more complex reactor design and higher safety standards, are not offset by cost reductions achieved through experience. Read more ›

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Posted in Energy and Environment