Evaluating the UK government's COVID-19 research stabilisation interventions

University students working on computers in the library, photo by Nikish Hiraman, peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

Nikish Hiraman/peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

On 23rd March 2020, the UK Government announced the country's first COVID-19 lockdown, ordering people to stay at home. To support the UK Government’s response to the pandemic, BEIS and UKRI launched a series of policy interventions to address the causes and consequences of the pandemic.

While the interventions were varied in their nature and aims, several focused on stabilising the research and innovation system, as the pandemic significantly impacted the activities of the research sector in the UK. These interventions targeted universities and wider research organisations, including researchers and businesses involved in research and innovation.

How are we helping?

UKRI and BEIS commissioned RAND Europe and Vitae to evaluate the COVID-19 research stabilisation interventions. The evaluation consists of the following components:

  • A Process Evaluation: This will assess how effectively BEIS and UKRI designed and delivered the various policies to stabilise the research sector and how they were received by the research community; the scope, nature and distribution of support provided; and the way in which the support provided by the stabilisation interventions was used by universities and research organisations.
  • An Early Impact Evaluation: This will capture emerging early evidence regarding the impact of the stabilisation interventions and explore the extent to which the interventions have achieved their intended aims of supporting and stabilising the research system.
  • An Impact Framework: This framework will propose the longer-term indicators of impact facilitated through these interventions and the feasibility and potential methods of data collection.

We are undertaking the evaluation using a combination of primary and secondary data by using national data compendiums like HESA and conducting a series of interviews, focus groups and a sector survey.