The University of Birmingham has long been known for its world leading expertise in the reform of public services. In the recent past academics from the University have made significant contributions to research, policy and practice across fields such as health, social care, education and beyond. The range of activities that the University engages with across the field of public service is vast and involves not just the education of public service professionals through undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, but also research, consultancy and professional development across the public, private and third sectors .
Professor Edward Peck, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of College (Social Sciences) - ‘Academics within the University, and in particular those within the College of Social Sciences, have always taken an active role in supporting through research, consultancy and training the development and delivery of public services within the city and region; the PSA gives us an excellent opportunity to focus these contributions on areas of agreed strategic importance and also to reflect on their impact over time’
The University’s Policy Commission on “the future of public services” substantiated this expertise and also vividly highlighted the range of challenges faced by this field and some of the sorts of changes that are anticipated in the future. One of the strengths of the public sector is its multidisciplinary nature and the range of different individuals and public and private organisations operating in the delivery of public services – but this can also prove a challenge in terms of coordination and the ability to join up in practice.
Mark Barrow, Strategic Director of Development, Birmingham City Council - ‘Birmingham City Council prides itself on its collaboration and close working relationship with the University of Birmingham. The PSA provides the opportunity to strengthen this relationship by promoting and supporting research and development initiatives across the university and council, thereby contributing to the achievement of the strategic ambitions within public services, for the citizens of the city and region’.
As part of its broader commitment to civic engagement and its long experience of delivery teaching programmes, research and consultancy to the public sector, the College of Social Sciences has established the Public Service Academy (PSA) which seeks to build on the University’s expertise around public services and provide a platform for strategic interaction with a range of national and international public service partners. Led by Dr. Helen Dickinson the PSA coordinates the College’s public management and public policy activities and plays a key role in interfacing with important public service partners such as Birmingham City Council.
At a research level the Public Service Academy brings together those interested in the fields of public policy and public management and seeks to add additional value to this work through collaborations across the various disciplines and policy areas. On a more pragmatic level, the public service academy is the key port of call for those interested in public services and works to institutionalise relationships with key public service partners in a more strategic fashion. The PSA therefore has two primary aims:
To act as a focal point for research and academic activity around the fields of public policy and public management; and,
To provide a “front door” to those interested in public service and to work on cementing relationships with key public service partners (including Birmingham City Council).
Melanie Wood, Business Partner (Workforce Intelligence Planning), Birmingham City Council - Birmingham City Council is delighted to be working in partnership and collaboration with the University of Birmingham, to help develop and nurture the skills and talents of our workforce. Through its work, the PSA will look to establish a range of creative opportunities for sharing knowledge and intelligence across the organisations in order to help create a workforce fit to face the future challenges within the public sector’.
More information about the Policy Commission’s report on the future of public services and the work of Birmingham Policy Commissions can be at www.birmingham.ac.uk/policycommissions