Matt Mawer

My professional life revolves around identifying complex questions, finding things out, and formulating comprehensible answers. I spent over a decade in-or-around academia before joining the Civil Service as a social researcher in the UK Department for Education (DfE). I am currently on secondment to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), supporting the social science evidence team in the Environmental Land Management (ELM) division.

What do you actually do?

My work at DfE work involves multi-disciplinary analytic support on strategic and cross-cutting areas of UK educational policy and practice, especially as part of the Government’s educational strategy on social mobility and disadvantage, typically through designing and overseeing evaluation projects. At Defra I lead on behavioural science within the ELM social science portfolio, which in practice means I spend time trying to understand drivers of decision making for land managers and others, in addition to other supporting analytic work across an evidence team of economists, social scientists, natural scientists, and operational researchers.

But what do you actually do?

Day-to-day, mostly research design, procurement and project management for evaluations of policy projects. When the work calls for it, I also conduct primary research (interviews, surveys, etc.) and analyse data with anything from qualitative thematic analysis to multivariate regression models. I am generally also involved in convening at least one seminar series. Currently it is the British Academy-Government Social Research Network joint series.

And before the Civil Service?

Prior to joining the Department for Education, I was based at The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the world’s first and oldest international university network. Alongside colleagues, I analysed the outcomes of a £25m per annum government-funded scholarship program – the UK’s Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships – for individual recipients and societies, in addition to writing about scholarship program outcomes, the state of evaluation practice, and the wider implications of higher education development programs.

From 2015-2017 I edited the blog series Measuring Success?, which drew together expert contributions on analysing scholarship programs and aims to facilitate dialogue between the various government agencies, private foundations, and academic researchers working in the sector. I have also sat on various international working groups concerned with international higher education, development, and research approaches, such as the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Facility’s expert working group and the Donor Harmonization Group of agencies and researchers involved in higher education development cooperation.

In the increasingly hazy and distant past, I was an academic researcher at Coventry University (where I completed my PhD) and latterly King’s College London. I specialised in education technology applications and understanding students’ perspectives on higher education and have been involved in a variety of rather interesting projects funded variously by the European Commission, Leverhulme Trust, and UK Quality Assurance Agency. The outputs from my academic work - both while in academia and at the ACU - are listed on the publications page.

©2019 Matt Mawer