How can education and skills work for the many?

Raj Patel is Impact Fellow and Acting Director of the Understanding Society Policy Unit at the University of Essex. Here he discusses the latest issues facing the education and skills sector, ahead of an education debate to be hosted this week by Understanding Society as part of the Festival of Social Science.

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Education transforms lives. So how successful are education and skills policies in the UK and how can they be improved? This question is becoming more complex to understand and answer in an era of mass education and diverse institutions, with patterns of participation, attainment and outcomes highly heterogeneous. Education of course does not exist as an island. Factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability, parental background, family lives, mental health and wellbeing, resources and geography have to be examined forensically to determine what predictive role they play in driving up or dampening attainment and outcomes. Continue reading

How you can help decide the important societal issues tackled by longitudinal studies

Joe Ellery is an ESRC Policy Manager supporting the council’s strategic interests in Longitudinal and Biosocial, Data and Resources and International Strategy.

Part of his role includes trying to better understand the range and type of international longitudinal and cohort studies, with a view to promoting collaboration with ESRC-funded studies.

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Every once in a while it’s important to take a step back and evaluate whether the path you’re travelling is leading you in a direction towards success. This is no different in the case of the UK’s world-leading longitudinal studies; in particular the ways in which these are funded and supported by the ESRC.

Despite their status as internationally-renowned sources of longitudinal data that span up to 60 years, it’s important to understand the future scientific needs for evidence over the lifecourse, in order to ensure the development of meaningful, robust and impactful research resources: resources as relevant to society as those we currently support. Continue reading

Kick-starting the housing revolution – but who will benefit?

Raj Patel is Acting Director of the Policy Unit at Understanding Society. His career has included roles at the Learning and Skills Network, and in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now the Department of Communities and Local Government). An economist and policy analyst, he has worked extensively on national public campaigns, policy research, local and regional development and designing new ways to tackle social issues.

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Ahead of an Understanding Society policy debate tomorrow (10 December) in London Raj discusses the future of UK housing.

Kick-starting the housing revolution – but who will benefit?

The housing crisis has been many years in the making but what’s different about the crisis and ‘affordability’ today is that it is no longer an issue just for those on low income. Continue reading