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Research Councils award PhD students three-month internships in leading policy organisations


The Research Councils have awarded more than 60 PhD students policy internships that will give them valuable insights into the policy-making process and how research can contribute to it.

From January next year, 68 interns will work for three months in one of 16 influential policy organisations, such as the Government Office for Science, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, and Public Health England's Behavioural Insights Team.

Professor Philip Nelson, Chair of Research Councils UK (RCUK), said: “I’m pleased that we are offering so many internships for 2016. The innovative RCUK Policy Internships scheme strengthens links between the research and policy communities, and gives early-career researchers a better understanding of what policymakers need from researchers and how they can influence the policy process more effectively. This should ultimately make for better policy that provides benefits like improved public safety, smarter regulation and lower costs.”

This is the first time all seven Research Councils have worked together to deliver the internships through a single process, leading to significant administrative savings by handling the awards process through a single Research Council (NERC) and giving responsibility for the awards process to the hosting partners themselves.

Research can make a vital contribution to public policy in many areas, whether in government departments, parliamentary groups, devolved administrations or other public bodies. Incorporating researchers’ knowledge can make policy far more effective, yielding benefits ranging from lower costs, smarter regulation and stronger economic growth to improved public safety and wellbeing.

But researchers and policymakers often don’t have a good grasp of each other’s concerns and needs, so policy does not always incorporate the best and most relevant research knowledge. RCUK Policy Internships are intended to help bridge that gap, giving scientists in-depth experience of working in a policy environment. The interns will focus on a topic of interest both to them and to their host organisation, for instance by producing a briefing paper, participating in a policy inquiry or organising an event.

The full list of organisations involved is detailed below. Next year’s internships will be announced in early summer 2016. 

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Further information


NERC Studentships & Training Awards Group:

Notes to editors

  1. The 16 organisations involved in the Research Council Policy Internships scheme:

    1. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
    2. Government Office for Science
    3. Royal Society
    4. Home Office
    5. Cabinet Office
    6. College of Policing
    7. Office for National Statistics
    8. Welsh Assembly
    9. House of Commons
    10. Royal Society of Biology
    11. British Library
    12. Public Health England
    13. Centre for Science and Policy
    14. Department for Communities and Local Government
    15. Scrutiny Unit
    16. Scottish Parliament Information Centre

  2. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at

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