There is an increasing emphasis worldwide on the links between academia and other sectors. In the UK Higher Education context, this is both in relation to the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) and the Impact Generation (IG) as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that universities engage with periodically. In terms of KEF, consultancies are key practices for this, whereas working with practitioners on the ground and influencing the way policy and service provision is conceptualised, designed and practiced, are at the heart of IG. Therefore, consultancies are very useful for the building of an impact case study. The research income through research consultancies is an important component of income generation, whilst the data collected can often be utilised for publications.
Migration research is a dynamic field that often requires multi-disciplinary working. Due to the nature of migration processes and the acute need of policymakers and service providers to respond with measures and programmes that will assist people on the ground, migration researchers are often called upon to provide expertise through research consultancies. Working with major organizations at international level or with local councils and charities, these consultancies are excellent opportunities to work with non-academic partners tackling issues of major public and policy interest.
Two of the MWG-NW members, Dr Zana Vathi (Social Sciences) and Dr Agnieszka Martynowicz (Law and Criminology), have significant experience with research consultancies. Zana has worked with a variety of international and local organizations, in different capacities since 2006: as lead researcher for projects funded through international governmental and non-governmental organizations, as a trainer, keynote speaker for policy events, advisor to major bodies (World Bank, IOM, etc.) and evaluator for major funding schemes. Agnieszka has almost 10 years of experience of consultancy work, ranging from evaluation of major programmes for national non-governmental organisations and international organisations such as the Council of Europe Development Bank to provision of commissioned research and training.
Zana and Agnieszka joined forces to develop a training session ‘Becoming and working as a research consultant’. Zana is currently working as an academic fellow for the Institute for Social Responsibility and this training is part of her fellowship activities. The aim of the training is to increase capacity in EHU staff to gain access to this type of research and collaboration with other sectors and work as research consultants.