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Profs and Politicians Pair Up

06 October 2011

Beacon Partners webJulie Morgan AM with Professor Maggie Kirk, Head of Research, Leader Genomics Policy Unit, University of Glamorgan

Members of the political and academic communities across Wales will each have the opportunity to see how the other half lives thanks to a new scheme by the Beacon for Wales.

The Universities Pairing Scheme, launched this week in Cardiff Bay, aims to give policy makers more direct contact with all Welsh universities and raise awareness amongst academics of how policy is developed. It will forge links for politicians and civil servants with Wales’ leading academics across science disciplines, business, social sciences and humanities.

The Beacon for Wales is a partnership between Cardiff University, University of Glamorgan, Techniquest, BBC Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru and is tasked with changing the culture of Welsh universities so that they value and reward public engagement.

The Scheme will see AMs or senior civil servants and academics spending two days together. Academics will have the opportunity to shadow the AM or civil servants, which might include spending a day at the AM’s constituency office with an opportunity to observe a session of the AM’s surgery, or attend meetings, events, plenary session in Cardiff Bay so that the academics can experience how policy is developed. In return, the AMs or civil servants will shadow the academics in their working day, visit the academic’s research facilities and meet with staff and students to hear about the latest research that is taking place.

Open to academics from every higher education institution in Wales, pairings have already been confirmed between AMs and academics from Cardiff University and the University of Glamorgan.

Julie Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North, who is championing the Scheme and has already been paired with Professor Malcolm Mason from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: "This is an incredibly important and worthwhile Scheme. It will open up new opportunities for the political and academic communities to share information which will add value to the work of all parties involved. I am very much looking forward to spending time with Professor Mason learning more about his work into cancer and cancer therapies."

Bruce Etherington, the Beacon for Wales Manager, said: "One of the main objectives that the Beacon for Wales is working to is an increase in the quality of public, political and academic dialogue in Wales. We see this as a valuable opportunity for academics to explore methods of sharing knowledge with Government and to illustrate to academics how their research can inform and influence the development of policy. For the politicians it will provide them with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the vast range of great research being undertaken at Welsh universities."

Pairings already announced include:

· Julie Morgan AM and Professor Malcolm Mason, Cardiff University

· Eluned Parrott AM and Professor Gary Packham, University of Glamorgan

· Jenny Rathbone AM and Professor Peter Donnelly, Cardiff University

· David Rees AM and Professor Marcus Longley, University of Glamorgan

· David Melding AM and Professor Richard Wyn Jones, Cardiff University

· Ieuan Wyn Jones AM and Professor Maggie Kirk, University of Glamorgan

· Bethan Jenkins AM and Dr. Andy Williams, Cardiff University

Related links

Beacon for Wales