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Connecting universities with public policy

Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN) is a one stop shop for academics, policy actors, and professional services staff who undertake and support academic-policy engagement. We champion academic policy engagement to strengthen evidence-informed policymaking in the UK.

What we do

Who we are

We are a voluntary led organisation of university based knowledge brokers. Chaired by UCL, Leeds and York, UPEN is led and run by its members through sub-committees, and managed by our Network Manager.


UK universities in our network


Sub-committees focused on key areas in academic-policy engagement


Vice-Chairs across representing UPEN across England, Scotland and Wales

For universities

Our weekly newsletter keeps members up to date with opportunities, news, funding calls, evidence calls, and job postings. We also work with the membership to provide an events programme tailored to current academic-policy engagement.

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For policymakers

Acting as a conduit between universities and policymakers, UPEN helps strengthen evidence-informed policy with access to expertise and evidence at over 110 UK universities.

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UPEN offers a crucial leadership role and service in the UK’s research and innovation system, increasing the impact of research on public policy. UPEN is very well connected across both universities and the policy world and is therefore extremely well placed to act as a broker, spotting opportunities for research to have impact.
James Canton Deputy Director of Public Policy and Engagement, ESRC, 2022 UPEN Impact Report
UPEN is a unique and crucial space for convening the academic-policy engagement community across the UK, and SPRE has benefitted greatly from relationships, collaborations and learning through its membership and leadership roles in the EDI Subcommittee and Executive Committee. The recent and ongoing organisational changes and ambitions are a welcome move for ensuring that UPEN remains well-placed to support the diverse needs of the dynamic and complex UK research ecosystem.
Dave Blackbell Co-director of the Scottish Policy and Research Exchange (SPRE)