OPEN Leaders Scheme

Closing date 12:00 BST, 10 October 2022. For a downloadable version of this call click here.

About the OPEN Leaders Scheme

The Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN) Steering Group is inviting Expressions of Interest (EoI) to join a cohort of at least five OPEN Leaders to take a leading role in the development of OPEN and help drive an inclusive, supportive culture of policy engagement among staff and students at the University of Oxford.

Awards of up to £8,000 are available to support activities that enable one or more departments or faculties to

  • Improve access for the policymaking community to the best available research evidence and expertise;
  • Deepen understanding of how researchers can contribute to policymaking, and develop skills to do this effectively; or
  • Broaden and deepen relevant networks, creating and developing more opportunities for engagement.

This scheme is supported by the University’s Higher Education Innovation Fund award. Awards can last up to 8.5 months, starting no earlier than 14 November 2022. All project activity must be completed and funding spent by 31 July 2023.

Research, teaching, academic and professional services staff from any department or faculty at the University can apply. DPhil students can apply if they will have submitted their thesis and be awaiting examination at the point their project will commence.

Applicants should follow the guidance below when drafting their EoI, and are encouraged to consult their departmental research support team in the first instance, not least to ensure they comply with any departmental eligibility criteria, approval processes, or guidelines. Questions regarding the scheme in general, expression of interest process, and eligibility, should be addressed to

To discuss ideas for an EoI, applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant divisional contact within the Policy Engagement Team to arrange a consultation.




Jessie Simkiss,

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences

Jess Hedge,

Medical Sciences

Martin Christlieb,

Social Sciences & GLAM

Will Pryor,

Key Dates

Deadline: 12:00 BST, 10 October 2022



Call opens

5 September 2022

Deadline for EoI

12:00 BST, 17 October 2022

Applicants notified of funding decision

w/c 24 October 2022

Applicants with conditional awards provide detailed plan of activities and budget

w/c 7 November 2022

Earliest project start date

14 November 2022

Latest project end date

31 July 2023

This call is only open to researchers at the University of Oxford.

About the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN)

Launched in 2020, this is a network of researchers and professional services staff from across the University who share a vision of public policy powered by the world’s best available research evidence and expertise. OPEN’s mission is to enable members to share knowledge and expertise with the policymaking community so that, together, they can contribute to better policies that protect what is valuable and change the world for the better.  

OPEN members work with partners in national and local governments, and arms-length bodies; in national parliaments and devolved assemblies; in civil society; in the UK, and around the world, including in international organisations. Their approach helps ensure that research of the highest quality clarifies, or expands, the range of options open to policymakers, through co-design, collaboration and co-production.

OPEN connects members with each other, and with opportunities for engagement, professional development, and funding, aligned with their areas of policy interest. It offers members guidance and support from the University’s Policy Engagement Team, which also fields incoming expressions of interest from members of the policymaking community. A University-wide Steering Group guides the development of the network. More information about OPEN can be found here.

About the OPEN Leaders Scheme

Strengthening leadership is one of the four aims of the OPEN Strategy, and one which will catalyse delivery of the Strategy as a whole. The OPEN Leaders Scheme offers researchers and professional services staff the opportunity and resources to develop their potential in this respect, through leading the design and delivery of initiatives that facilitate achievement of the other aims of the OPEN Strategy, from which at least one department, and potentially several, will benefit. The OPEN Leaders scheme was launched in 2021, and complements other initiatives, such as the appointment of an Academic Champion for Policy Engagement and internal funding opportunities, including the OPEN Seed Fund and OPEN Fellowship Scheme.

OPEN Leaders will be expected to allocate at least five days between November 2022 and July 2023 for these initiatives, and will receive up to £8,000 towards the development and delivery of them.

What can an OPEN Leaders award be used for?

Activities proposed in EoI should not exceed £8,000 in eligible costs.

The following kinds of activity are some of those that may be supported:

  • Development of the role of faculty or departmental champion for policy engagement, e.g. by offering advisory support, or building capacity;
  • Incorporation of policy engagement in relevant strategies and plans, and deliveringelements of those;
  • Piloting new approaches to professional development for OPEN members, e.g., resources, seminars, workshops or masterclasses relating to engagement in one or more area of public policy, or particularly challenging aspects of engagement;
  • Development of new guidance or other resources for the professional development of OPEN members;
  • Initiatives aimed at improving the visibility of researchers engaged with the policymaking community, for research and policy audiences;
  • Creation of opportunities for researchers and the policymaking community to share expertise and evidence, in person or online - e.g., offering to host a UK government department to explore their Areas of Research Interest, or a visit to Oxford by a Select Committee to gather evidence of interest to its members;
  • Other activities that broaden or deepen membership of OPEN, e.g. in a particular area of policy interest.

This scheme will not fund:

  • Research consultancy;
  • Publications or other activities that already took place;
  • Academic conferences lacking clear prospects of enabling policy engagement.

How will EoI be assessed?

The panel will prioritise EoI from staff in departments and faculties that have not benefited from this scheme to date.

Applicants will be expected to have demonstrable interest in, and some understanding of, public policy in at least one area, and some experience of the kind of engagement described in Section 3. This is an opportunity to develop as a leader, and the panel will therefore also be looking for evidence of the potential:

  • To communicate effectively with a wide range of interlocutors, including researchers at different career stages and members of the policymaking community, and to persuade through reasoned discussion;
  • To recognise and encourage contributions from colleagues;
  • To sustain collaborative relationships, and to create, develop and exchange knowledge in collaboration with external partners, as well as other researchers;
  • To promote the application of research to public policy in innovative ways; and
  • To raise awareness, foster engagement with and understanding of the mutual benefit to be derived to research and society of effective policy engagement

Who can express interest?

EoI are welcome from staff members of any department or faculty at the University of Oxford.

Support and approval from the head of the relevant research department or faculty obtained in advance of the EoI is required. Many departments and faculties have internal eligibility criteria, approval processes and other guidelines to which all applicants should adhere. Please consult your departmental administrator for internal deadlines and further information.

Retired and Emeritus Fellows, as well as Masters students and postgraduate students, are not eligible. Funding under this scheme for any staff member who moves to another university will not transfer with them.

What can be funded?

This scheme has been designed with a view to minimising the administrative burden for applicants. Fully costed EoI are welcome but are not required. However, where an offer of funding is made, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and value for money should be clearly demonstrated in the project plan. Payments will not be made for miscellaneous expenses or unspecified items.

Eligible costs include:

  • Research or teaching assistance (up to £4,000);
  • Travel and subsistence costs for staff or external partners;
  • Project costs including publishing, venue hire, transcription and IT;
  • Consultancy/professional fees for external partners; and
  • Equipment.

Funding for these schemes is not provided on a full economic cost (FEC) basis. Estates and indirect costs are not covered by this funding but all direct costs required to develop, deliver and evaluate the project are covered. If you are unsure about the eligibility of a specific expense, please contact your divisional contact in the Policy Engagement Team for guidance.

How to apply

Researchers are encouraged to join OPEN before applying.

Expressions of Interest should comprise:

  1. A letter from the applicant (max. 3 pages), setting out
    1. Their motivation and interest in taking on this role, and the skills and experience they bring to it;
    2. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing their department in relation to one or more of the four aims of the OPEN Strategy; and
    3. An outline of their proposed programme of activities, indicating how each would address those objectives, and what kind of support they might need from the OPEN Steering Group or Policy Engagement Team;
    4. A one-page CV; and
    5. A statement of support from their Head of Department or Faculty

These documents should be combined into a single PDF and emailed to the Policy Engagement Team at by 12:00 BST on 10 October 2022.

Selection process

EoIs will be reviewed and the funding recommendations will be made by the OPEN Leaders panel, comprising academics or researchers from all four Divisions.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their EoI during the week beginning 24 October 2022. Results will be issued by email. Feedback will be available on request.

Funding will be allocated on the condition of provision of a detailed project plan of activities and fully costed budget within two weeks of applicants being notified of the panel’s decision. Applicants are encouraged to consult the Policy Engagement Team for advice when drafting these.The Policy Engagement Team would like to use successful EoI as an exemplar for future applicants. Please bear this in mind if your EoI is successful. All sensitive data will be removed from EoI before they are shared. Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to opt-out. 

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

The Policy Engagement Team works with OPEN Leaders, individually and as a cohort, to

  • Provide guidance on how to monitor and evaluate activities; and
  • Maximise learning from their experience, and in finding ways to share that with others, e.g. in the context of training activities or resources, or in the form of a blog; and

Reporting requirements

Timely consideration of arrangements for monitoring, evaluation and learning will also facilitate and inform the reporting that is required of all award-holders. These reports will be the key mechanism to collect critical information for reporting to Research England, and will assist the Policy Engagement Team in monitoring progress and managing any issues that arise.

A schedule of reporting dates will be provided with award offer letters. OPEN Leaders will be contacted with an email reminder closer to the dates that reports are due for submission. The emails will include a number of questions to help shape your reports.

  • End-of-award report – The end-of-award report should evaluate the activities funded through the award, demonstrate the impact and benefits for the OPEN Leader, department or faculty, and broader OPEN membership, and detail any future plans for supporting policy engagement within the department. This report should be submitted within one month of the end of the award.
  • Impact report – The impact report should briefly outline further impacts achieved in the six months following the award’s completion. The aim is to capture any impact that has developed since the award’s completion date.

Where to get support

Applicants are encouraged to consult their departmental research support team in the first instance, not least to ensure they comply with any departmental eligibility criteria, approval processes, or guidelines. Applicants with questions regarding the scheme or EoI process, including queries relating to eligibility, should email If you’d like to discuss ideas for a potential EoI, please email your divisional contact in the Policy Engagement Team to book a consultation.


Jessie Simkiss,

Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences

Jess Hedge,

Medical Sciences

Martin Christlieb,

Social Sciences & GLAM

Will Pryor,