Nineteen Oxford graduates are the first to take part in a new partnership between the University of Oxford and Oxfordshire County Council.

These graduate students have been announced as the inaugural Local Policy Fellows as part of a collaborative effort that also includes Oxford Brookes University.

The scheme aims to bridge the gap between academic research and local policy making, offering opportunity for students and researchers to engage with their community and comprehend public policies on a local scale.

The Local Policy Fellows will collaborate with Oxfordshire County Council and policy partners to conduct impact evaluations, evaluate data sets, and collect qualitative data related to health and climate policy initiatives.

Additional support to each Fellow will be extended by professional facilitators and academic mentors from Oxford University.

These Fellows will conduct research on nine projects, ranging from assessing green social prescribing opportunities for children and young people, to identifying promising practices for schools’ decarbonisation.

Other subjects include health projects, home visits for healthier, greener homes and underrepresented voices in climate action.

Professor Alex Betts, University of Oxford local and global engagement officer, expressed his satisfaction with the initiative.

He said: "As the home to two large universities, Oxford – and the whole of Oxfordshire – could access a wealth of cutting-edge, impact-driven research that could inform solutions to public policy challenges facing the city and county."

Councillor Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council echoed this sentiment, voicing her excitement over the programme: "Local Policy Fellows will get the opportunity to apply what they’ve learnt in the lecture theatre to current policy challenges, directly impacting local decision making to improve outcomes across the county."

The Fellowship Programme has started with a series of weekly training sessions varying from local policy and community engagement to data skills.

The Local Policy Fellows will start their field work and data analysis next month and the findings and policy recommendations from each project will be presented in July.

Professor Koula Asimakopoulou, associate dean research and KE, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University said: "Oxford Brookes are delighted to be partnering with Oxford County Council and our academic friends and colleagues at Oxford to deliver this initiative."

The Local Policy Lab Fellowship Programme is the first initiative by the Local Policy Lab, aiming to strengthen the relationships between policymakers, community groups, and university researchers in Oxfordshire.

Launched in March, there was an event with more than 100 attendees, where the idea of Oxfordshire policy research alliance took shape.