London, UK (Scicasts) - The UK Parliament announced two new fellowship schemes that will offer academic researchers, at every stage of their career, an opportunity to work on specific projects from inside Westminster’s walls.

Both schemes were launched on Wednesday, 16 November, at a lunchtime reception hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, and the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler.

The Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme

Applications for one of the two schemes, the Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme, are now open. The scheme, run by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and endorsed by the Research Councils, is offering academics from different subject areas and at any career stage the opportunity to come and work in Parliament.

Funded by monies made available to universities to increase the impact of their research (Impact Acceleration Accounts), the Scheme includes opportunities for academics to work on specific projects proposed by offices inside Parliament, as well as enabling academics to propose a project of their choosing.

“The fellowship scheme is important because it makes it so much easier for Parliament and the research base to work together," said Phil Sooben, Economic and Social Research Council Director for Policy and Resources, and Deputy Chief Executive, Speaking on behalf of the UK Research Councils.

“POST is building upon the highly successful fellowship scheme it has offered to doctoral students to offer this outstanding opportunity for researchers at all career stages to make their mark in Parliament. We anticipate high levels of demand for this prestigious fellowship scheme and commend POST, working closely with its Research Council partners, for making this happen.”

Projects available for academics to apply to are:

  • House of Lords Library: Supporting the Library in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data to monitor its performance, effectiveness and impact.
  • House of Commons Library: Supporting the Library to develop and apply a range of approaches to improve information on how its core services (enquiries, briefing papers and online) meet its customer needs and offer insights into its customers and how they work.
  • House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: Assisting the Committee in its work scrutinising the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • House of Commons Health Committee: Assisting the Committee in following up on its work on childhood obesity.
  • House of Commons International Trade Committee: Assisting the Committee in its work scrutinising the Department for International Trade.
  • House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: Assisting the Committee in its examination of constitutional issues, the quality and standards of administration within the Civil Service and scrutiny of reports produced by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The House of Commons Fellowship Scheme

The House of Commons Fellowship Scheme, run in partnership with the Political Studies Association (PSA), has already awarded five fellowships to senior political and social scientists from universities across the UK.

The five fellows, from universities across the UK, were selected for the two-year fellowships following an open call for senior political and social scientists wishing to study the work of Parliament.

The fellows demonstrated how their research would help to build public understanding of Parliament’s work and help to enhance the work of the institution. Each fellow will have the opportunity to conduct primary research in Parliament and will be given access to Parliament’s library and archive collections.

The first five fellows of the House of Commons Fellowship Scheme are:

  • Professor Margaret Arnott, University of the West of Scotland. Project: "The future of Parliament and devolution."
  • Dr. Mark Bennister, Canterbury Christ Church University. Project: "Questioning the Prime Minister: How Effective is the Liaison Committee?"
  • Catherine Bochel, University of Lincoln. Project: "Procedural Justice: A Fair Process for Public Engagement?"
  • Dr. Alistair Clark, Newcastle University. "Regulating and Communicating Parliamentary Standards."
  • Professor Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield. Project: "How can Parliament deliver a restored and renewed Palace of Westminster?

“This is a fantastic opportunity for academics like myself to get under the skin of Parliament and conduct research from inside the institution," said Dr. Bennister. "It will give me access and insight into the real life workings of Westminster, and I can use that to build bridges between the public and Parliament as well as reflect it back to those who run the institution.”

Applications for the next wave of House of Commons Fellows will open in 2017.

Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, said: “On the journey to make Parliament more accessible and better understood, these Academic Fellowship Schemes are a major step in the right direction. Not only will these intellectual heavyweights be able to use their time in Parliament to study us and share their findings with their students, colleagues and the public, but importantly, they will provide us policy-makers with a rich new evidence-base from which to draw upon in order to improve our institutions.”