Senior Policy Adviser (Higher Education & Skills)

The British Academy

  • Team: Higher Education & Skills Policy
  • Grade: Grade E
  • Salary: £36,100 plus excellent benefits (including 34 days' annual leave, defined benefit pension)
  • Location: Central London, with hybrid-working available
  • Closing: 12:00pm, 23rd Sep 2022 BST

Job Description

The British Academy – the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences - is seeking a Senior Policy Adviser (Higher Education & Skills) to join a growing and high-performing policy team, focussed on higher education, skills and research policy.

You can find out more about the British Academy here, including our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement.


The Senior Policy Adviser is a central role in our growing Higher Education and Skills Policy Team (currently six people, including two other Senior Policy Advisers). The Higher Education Team is a collaborative, productive and high-performing team, part of the Academy’s Policy Directorate alongside the Public Policy Team. We work to position the Academy as a thought leader on Higher Education and research policy, engaging in evidence-based policy to influence the health and vibrancy of our disciplines throughout the pipeline. This involves a combination of reactive responses to policy developments as they occur, and proactive planned projects designed to strengthen our evidence base, support the SHAPE discipline community and stimulate debate.

The role of Senior Policy Adviser combines the strategic development and delivery of a range of policy projects within the Higher Education and Skills policy team, including the opportunity to design and deliver new ways of approaching our higher education, research and skills policy activities. Programmes of work cover the breadth of higher education teaching and research policy related to the SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts for People and the Economy). This includes work to source, monitor and evaluate data on distinct disciplines, pipelines and provision to assess the health of SHAPE. These assessments underpin substantial policy programmes which inform ongoing policy debate about SHAPE teaching and research in the UK, including its societal and economic value (from local to international), R&D performance, and role in key government agendas.

With line management responsibility for a Policy Adviser, the Senior Policy Adviser will need to take a proactive and collaborative approach in developing and implementing creative ideas and concepts in policy research and evaluation. Joining an enthusiastic, close team of policy experts, the postholder is expected to work with the wider policy teams and across the Academy to tailor our higher education and skills policy work to the most pressing issues.

OFFICE LOCATION - 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, St James Park, London, SW1Y 5AH


1 -Research and analysis

  • Research, evaluate and interpret complex policy issues using, or seeking appropriate expertise to use, quantitative and qualitative methods and a variety of data sources, and propose new areas of research and advise on suitable methods and approaches.

  • Maintain a body of expertise in certain topics relating to higher education and skills policy and to monitor and review external developments, propose responses and identify opportunities for policy and programme development.

2 – Producing policy outputs and outcomes

  • Oversee the development, design and delivery of a key programme(s) of work within the Higher Education and Skills policy workplan. Take strategic responsibility for related projects, outputs, activities and communications and oversee contractors and/or members of staff involved in the work.

  • Balance a range of projects and activities, including organising events, preparing briefings, consultation responses, statements, speeches, programmes and promotional copy, undertaking background research as necessary.

  • Manage the publication, launch and dissemination of relevant outputs and to work with Academy colleagues to ensure relevant and timely and communication of the Academy’s higher education policy positions.

3 – Stakeholder engagement

  • Identify and pursue opportunities for engagement with external organisations and stakeholders, forging new relationships and maximising established ones, in pursuit of the Academy’s strategic objectives and in relation to specific policy objectives.

  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with academic experts within and outside the Academy Fellowship to ensure effective use of the expertise necessary for the delivery of activities. This includes building networks within the Fellowship, particularly through facilitating relevant committees and working groups.

  • Ensure the Academy is well represented at appropriate meetings and events, either by presenting the Academy’s views and positions on particular issues or by briefing the Head of Policy (Higher Education and Skills), the Director of Policy, the Chief Executive, Senior Management Team, relevant Academy Officers, and Council and Committees as appropriate.

4 – Strategy and planning

  • Proactively identify new opportunities for the Higher Education and Skills Policy team, which align with the Directorate and Academy strategic aims, and take forward - with endorsement from the Director and team Heads - the planning and implementation of new programmes of work.

  • To motivate, collaborate with and develop a Policy Adviser to deliver outputs which have policy impact.

  • Recognise and develop potential synergies between the higher education policy programme and the Academy’s other policy activities.

  • Work with the other UK National Academies on specific projects and initiatives, supporting and leading as necessary, to ensure a joined-up approach



  • Director of Policy; News and Public Affairs team; Research Funding team; International Policy and Funding team; Public Policy team.


  • Includes but not limited to other National Academies and Higher Education or research representative bodies.


Working Relationships

  • Is proactive in developing and maintaining effective working relationships with others internally, particularly in working with committees and working groups, and with academics, to increase engagement in policy work.

  • Can strategically build and maintain effective relationships with, and work in partnership with, other organisations in the higher education or SHAPE community.

  • Demonstrates a positive attitude towards helping others by providing appropriate support, using initiative and not waiting to be asked.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Can demonstrate a working knowledge of the UK higher education, skills and research policy landscape. Comprehension of the context for SHAPE disciplines is desirable.

  • Has good quantitative and qualitative research and analytical skills, particularly in relation to providing a robust evidence base for policy development.

  • Adopts a communication style appropriate to the situation and the audience, in both written and oral communications, including delivery of presentations, data analysis and report production.

  • Is aware of own strengths and weaknesses, seeking and using opportunities to learn and develop, and is quick in picking up new tasks.

Proactivity and Planning

  • Is successful in planning, managing and delivering policy projects, taking ownership of tasks, including delegating effectively where appropriate.

  • Able to meet deadlines under pressure, accurately and with attention to detail, often balancing conflicting priorities.

  • Monitors progress effectively and adapts plans where needed, evaluating and reflecting on delivery to apply learning to future planning.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

  • A creative and strategic thinker, with the capacity to deal with complex issues and ambiguity.

  • Sets the right balance between referring decisions to the appropriate level and taking things forward without referral.

  • Able to use tact and diplomacy and to handle confidential information.


  • A motivating, respectful and collaborative line manager, including in a matrix structure.

  • An assured, open-minded, and positive outlook with a constructive attitude to challenges and sharing knowledge and skills with others.

  • Takes a professional and assured approach when dealing with a variety of people and has the ability to work independently, and as part of a wider team.

Other Requirements

  • Is able to be flexible about working hours on occasions.

  • Is willing to travel on British Academy business.


The Academy’s workplace values and supporting text are set out below. We share these core values with each other. They guide how we work together and with others. We demonstrate them through our behaviours.

COLLABORATION- We consistently work together to a common purpose, supporting each other, communicating openly and sharing knowledge. We are flexible and adaptable, receiving feedback constructively.

CREATIVITY - We bring imagination and curiosity to our work, valuing learning, diverse thinking, and innovation. We are open-minded, receptive, and responsive, taking account of alternative perspectives.

EMPATHY-We are understanding, sensitive, compassionate, and considerate, mindful of our own wellbeing alongside that of others.

EXCELLENCE - We always do our best, without striving to be perfect, applying our expertise and experience to develop and grow.

INTEGRITY - We are open and honest with each other, accepting personal responsibility and demonstrating loyalty. We are reliable and dependable, having belief that we will be transparent and clear.

RESILIENCE - We are confident, bold, and tenacious, knowing when to listen as well as when to speak up. We respond positively to challenges and overcome problems.

RESPECT - We are inclusive in our regard for each other, showing courtesy and appreciation. We treat people fairly and equally, welcoming everyone’s contribution and difference.

Removing bias from the hiring process

  • Your application will be anonymously reviewed by our hiring team to ensure fairness
  • You won't need a CV to apply to this job

Applications closed Fri 23rd Sep 2022


Removing bias from the hiring process

  • Your application will be anonymously reviewed by our hiring team to ensure fairness
  • You won't need a CV to apply to this job

Applications closed Fri 23rd Sep 2022