The impact of What Works Scotland on universities and academic research.

a row of 'light bulbs' made of crumpled paper hanging against a chalkboard. one bulb is swinging and has chalk marks behind it indicating it's lit upWhat Works Scotland has had an impact on universities and the way they work. Through our seminars, our collaborative approach to research and our workshops, we’ve provided opportunities for academics and public service practitioners to work in a more participative research environment, demonstrating new approaches for future research programmes both for universities and public service bodies. We’ve also had impact on the provision of teaching.

Through our work in Thriving Places areas of high multiple deprivation in Glasgow, What Works Scotland brought local public service practitioners into the University of Glasgow to present on their Thriving Places work to Masters students and, with What Works Scotland support, to encourage students to do their dissertation fieldwork in Thriving Places.

This contributes to the evidence base for the work in those areas (including through writing a lay report as part of the dissertation) and building the relationship between the university and some of Glasgow’s poorest areas. Academic supervisors also become more informed about Thriving Places. One collaborative dissertation was completed in 2016, and five more were completed in 2017.

Evidence of impact/changes

Evidence from the first lay report has been used by health and community workers to influence other public services on the benefit of the Thriving Places approach.

One of the practitioners wrote to the student:

‘Everyone involved has been really impressed with your enthusiasm and professionalism. It isn’t easy to come into an area and a community such as [anonymised] and to be accepted and trusted in the way you have … the evaluation methods and approach you took have been enthusiastically received and truly appreciated.’

The University of Glasgow has now adopted this approach within its mainstream academic programme and committed resources to administer it beyond the What Works Scotland project lifetime.

This has not only provided Masters students with better opportunities it has also built relationships between the university and some of Glasgow’s poorest areas and developed ‘lay reports’ to inform practice.

See the collaborative dissertations and more about the impact for the students, supervisors and community organisers