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Expressions of Interest invited: CAPE Policy Fellowship with Northumbria University

We are pleased to invite Expressions of Interest for a new Incoming Policy Fellowship opportunity with Northumbria University. CAPE is funding this 6 month pilot to enhance strategic approaches to policy engagement at Northumbria University to reflect its role as a research-intensive modern university. This project will enable Northumbria University to continue to develop and apply its research to an evolving policy context and build upon its status as Times Higher Education (THE) University of the Year 2022.  

The main objective of the pilot is to map and explore Northumbria University research strengths in regard to regional, national, and international policy challenges and to co-define collaborative ways of addressing policy priorities with academic expertise.  

In doing so the pilot will:  

  • Research and explore the current UK landscape of university policy support and identify the opportunities for Northumbria to create areas of distinctiveness in its policy engagement, including identification of routes to support policy connections related to Northumbria’s areas of research strengths 
  • Explore models of internal support (training, awareness raising, mapping) and external support (communications, brokerage) and ascertain the benefits of both, in support of recommendations for developing a sustainable policy support structure for Northumbria University 
  • Explore how best to support opportunities to work in a collaborative way addressing policy partner needs with academic expertise and to co-define what good looks like in strategic academic policy engagement at a modern research-intensive university 
  • Evaluate and contextualise the pilot in order to determine best practice models of academic-policy engagement to inform learning for the CAPE project and the wider HEI sector  
  • Enhance the mobilisation of academic knowledge at Northumbria University to address regional, national and international policy priorities

The post will also link in with senior leaders and policy networks to support Northumbria’s developing strategic approach to academic – policy engagement.   

About Northumbria

Northumbria is a research-intensive modern university with a global reputation for academic excellence and won University of the Year in the 2022 THE Awards. We conduct pioneering research that is responsive to the scientific, technological, health, wellbeing, economic, social and cultural needs of the communities we work with. Our peaks of excellence include research into computerised society and digital citizens, cultural and creative industries, energy, materials and systems microbial biotechnology, multiomics for health, solar and space physics, the future of ice on earth and volunteering, humanitarian crisis and development. Our Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF) results show Northumbria had the biggest rise in research power ranking of any UK university. Its research power ranking rose to 23rd from 50th making Northumbria the sector’s largest riser in research power ranking for the second successive REF. Sustained progress by Northumbria has given the city of Newcastle a second research-intensive university, bringing a complementary set of research strengths to the city, and creating with Durham a Northern Research Powerhouse with the largest city-area concentration of researchers outside London. 

Role description

The Policy Fellow will have a dedicated remit to design and deliver activities which aim to address or advance how Northumbria can accelerate stakeholder engagement with its research in strategic policy priority areas. They will research and facilitate a process to guide understanding of how the University can accelerate this process. The successful candidate will work closely with colleagues across Northumbria University including the Research and Innovation Services (RIS) team, CAPE, and the Insights North East Partnership. There will also be the potential to link with other relevant organisations, partnerships, public sector, research and policy organisations, civil society and communities.

Role responsibilities

The main responsibilities of the post will be to:

  • To work with senior leaders and stakeholders from within Northumbria University (including Interdisciplinary Research Themes (IDRTs), research peaks and RIS) to understand the distinctive characteristics of Northumbria’s research and long-term vision
  • To undertake a gap analysis to help understand the current UK landscape of academic policy units
  • To generate transferable insight for other universities on how to effectively engage with public policy regionally, nationally and internationally
  • Support the planning of co-productive spaces to connect policy questions, policy makers and academic expertise in innovative ways
  • Increase access to academic expertise to support the understanding of key policy challenges and the co-creation of a knowledge base to address them
  • Build on existing programmes within Northumbria University to strengthen networks between academic communities
  • Identify key areas of research interest and long-term policy questions for key policy audiences for which research capabilities could be harnessed

Priority tasks may include:

  • Consideration of how to provide professional services support, and stages for developing this over time
  • Consideration of how to further embed policy engagement into research culture
  • Stakeholder involvement at Northumbria University to support a holistic view of internal capabilities and capacity to strengthen engagement with policy-related outputs
  • Analysis of Northumbria University’s distinctive areas of strength and co-creation of the distinctive Northumbria offer now and, in the future,
  • Work with colleagues to support and capture learning from planned engagement between Northumbria University, strategic projects such as Insights North East and a range of public policy stakeholders
  • Explore the potential for creating sustainable networks of expertise within Northumbria in policy priority areas
  • Drawing on lessons of practical activities above, support the development of a business case with recommendations for how best to enhance academic-policy engagement at Northumbria University
  • Work with the Director of Impact, Knowledge Exchange and
  • Commercialisation to report upon and connect the outputs and outcomes of the Fellowship with Northumbria’s governance structures and identify meaningful and sustainable solutions to embed practices in future strategic approaches
  • Work with CAPE on the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot; leading on data collection through interviews, surveys and /or other methods; capturing and sharing widely lessons learned

The successful candidate can be located in the Northumbria University offices and will also be connected to the wider CAPE project. A blend of remote and in person working is encouraged. The postholder will be provided with a mentor to help them become familiar with, and navigate, the structures within Northumbria. They will be expected to attend relevant meetings. They will work across groupings such as Impact and Engagement and Research Culture as well as Faculties and Departments. The position will be monitored and evaluated by CAPE over the period of the pilot to determine its success and any improvements that could be made to the post.

About you

  • Excellent communication skills and ability to effectively engage with people from different backgrounds, and at different levels of seniority
  • Strong writing skills and proven communications experience with both academic and non-academic audiences are particularly important
  • Ability to operate effectively, openly, and collaboratively within highly sensitive political contexts; ability to demonstrate neutrality and impartiality while navigating competing stakeholder interests
  • An ability to grasp project priorities quickly
  • Ability to work proactively, managing and prioritising your own workload, while managing contingencies between multiple project stakeholders
  • Excellent research and analytical skills, with demonstrable experience or transferable skills in translating research findings to other contexts
  • Expertise and experience in using research as a means of informing and contributing towards policy development
  • Knowledge and understanding the role of higher education institutions


  • Expertise or experience in an area of policy priority for Northumbria University
  • Policy development and implementation experience
  • Previous experience of working in, or with national or international policy development.
  • Experience of working with key stakeholders.

About CAPE Policy Fellowships

This Fellowship is open to eligible public policy professionals and individuals with a public policy background based in the United Kingdom. The Fellowship is offered on a full- or part-time basis for 6 months in the first instance, with the possibility of renewal. The fellowship award may be up to £50,000, dependent on career stage and salary level, experience, and time commitment, funded through CAPE. The Fellowship may be facilitated as a consultancy arrangement, a temporary contract, or secondment to enable flexibility for the right candidate. Specific terms and conditions will be stated in a joint fellowship agreement between Northumbria University and CAPE which the successful candidate will be required to sign at the start of their fellowship. 

The fellowship will start as soon as possible. It is expected that the successful candidate will take a hybrid approach to flexible working. They will be based at Northumbria University offices as well as working remotely. We will discuss a preferred working pattern with the successful candidate.

We are committed to being an inclusive employer. We welcome applications from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or disability.  

Expressions of interest are invited for this exciting opportunity. Expressions of interest must be received by 12noon Monday 6 March 2023. For an informal discussion or for any queries, please contact Michael Parker, Director of Impact, Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation, or CAPE Project Coordinator at Northumbria University Jenny Hasenfuss  

How to submit expressions of interest

Please send a short CV (max 4 pp) and a covering letter outlining your interest and suitability for the Fellowship to [email protected] by the closing date of 12 noon Monday 6 March 2023

About Northumbria University

At Northumbria, we embrace tomorrow. We pursue new thinking, forge new partnerships, create, and exchange new knowledge, and find new solutions. Our inspirational academics, partners and students work together to tackle tomorrow’s challenges head on. We are ready for the future whatever it may hold. Awarded the title of University of the Year in the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards, Northumbria University is a research-intensive modern university with a global reputation for academic excellence. Northumbria recorded the biggest rise of any UK university for research power in the Research Excellence Framework for the second time in 2021 and is now ranked top 25 for this measure. One of the largest universities in the UK with over 37,000 students from 137 countries, filled with world-leading research, award-winning partnerships, and students at the heart of an outstanding experience, Northumbria is a new kind of excellent university.  

Northumbria University is a great place to work.  We empower our exceptional people to achieve shared ambitions and promote a positive work life balance. Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our staff.  We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community.  The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme.

About CAPE

The £10 million, 4-year Research England-funded CAPE project is a partnership between UCL and the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Northumbria and Nottingham, in collaboration with the Government Office for Science, the Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, and the Transforming Evidence Hub, funded by Research England. CAPE has been created to support effective and sustained engagement between academics and policy professionals across the higher education sector.  CAPE comprises four broad workstreams under which activities related to the academic-policy interventions will be co-designed with policy partners: training; knowledge exchange events; seed funding; and policy fellowships. Evaluation is embedded across the project and integrated in the delivery of activities in order to ‘learn as we go’ and share emerging knowledge with university and public policy stakeholders.