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Oxford University's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) are working closely with policymakers and practitioners to inform migration solutions.

Informing migration solutions through research

Image credit: Shutterstock

The Centre on Migration Policy and Society (COMPAS) was set up at the University of Oxford with funding from the ESRC (ES/G032076/1).   

Since 2003 COMPAS has established an international reputation for original research and policy relevance. It has undertaken a strategic programme of multi-disciplinary social scientific research, publication and dissemination, events, knowledge transfer and user engagement activities with a broad set of academic and non-academic users in the UK and abroad.

As core-funding from the ESRC was coming to an end in 2014, the COMPAS team led by Director Professor Michael Keith as well as Dr Sarah Spencer and Ms Emma Newcombe, among others, were looking for ways to maximise and extend opportunities for knowledge exchange and longer term collaboration between those working in the migration field. With funding in part from Oxford’s ESRC IAA, Professor Keith and the COMPAS team successfully launched a new initiative – The Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity – to do just that.

With IAA funding, from July 2014 until November 2015, the team held a series of short policy-focused seminars and events to bring together researchers in the social sciences, policymakers and research users from the private sector, civil society and NGOs for discussions on specific migration-related topics.

For example, in October 2014, the project team organised a round-table seminar called ‘City Responses to Irregular Migrants’ with Barcelona City Council, in partnership with Eurocities, the network of Europe’s largest cities. Representatives from participating cities including Barcelona, Brighton and Hove, Frankfurt, Genoa, Ghent, Helsinki, The London Borough of Islington, Milan, Terrassa and Utrecht met to discuss the challenges their cities face in responding to the needs of undocumented migrants and to share experiences and ideas to inform future practices. The event concluded with participants agreeing a collective action to raise awareness of the challenges that cities face in relation to the presence of undocumented migrants and to help cities address those challenges. This was the first time these European cities have felt able to discuss this sensitive issue, and it was unprecedented for them to decide to take this collaboration forward.  

In November 2014, working alongside the West Midlands Strategic Partnership (WMSP), the project team co-organised an event called ‘The implications of migration in the provision of health services’. They brought together 40 researchers and professionals with knowledge of migration and migrant health, commissioners and providers of  health and social care to discuss the impact of migration on local populations and consider the implications on health services. The roundtables gave an opportunity to share knowledge on issues, experiences and practical responses. One such session was run by a local commissioning service team who had worked hard to improve inclusion rates of migrant residents. They recognised that late presentation of medical cases can be hugely problematic and have therefore funded local services to improve access to primary care.

These are just two examples of the knowledge exchange activities funded by this ESRC IAA grant to bring policy makers and practitioners dealing with migration-related issues together with academics to discuss evidence, lessons and possible solutions.  Although the ESRC IAA-funded part of this project has ended, COMPAS and the Global Exchange initiative continue to explore ways to ‘establish, maintain, and maximise the effectiveness of connections between authoritative evidence, policy and practice’.

This project was funded by Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.