Labour MP visits University as part of pairing scheme

Labour MP Steve McCabe with BCU lecturer Ashok Patel

Labour MP Steve McCabe swapped the Commons for the classroom when he paid a visit to the University’s City South Campus.

By Royal Society appointment

Steve, the Member of Parliament for Selly Oak, arrived at the University thanks to the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, which saw Birmingham City University lecturer Ashok Patel shadow Steve for a week in Westminster. Now it was time for Ashok to return the favour, and Steve got to hear about a host of innovative research projects that the University is conducting, as well as enjoy City South’s state-of-the-art facilities.

Hands-on experience

“I was struck by the number of academics with hands-on experience,” Steve revealed. “They’re not remote academics working in ivory towers – these are people who are out there working with members of the public, working with students and much more.” With his own research interests linked to healthcare, Steve was particularly enamoured with BCU’s nursing provision. “Ashok told me that when he went to visit his mother-in-law in hospital over Christmas, he met three staff there that were all BCU students,” Steve said. “There’s always a huge demand for nurses and we’re in danger of not being able to staff our hospitals, so it’s great to hear that the Nursing programme here is doing so well.”

Future collaborations

The Royal Society Pairing Scheme has enabled Steve and Ashok to not only learn more about their respective worlds, but also see if there are opportunities for future collaborations. When it comes to researchers and politicians working together, Steve feels it’s a recipe for success. “None of us survive if we operate in silos,” he said. “It’s important in this fast-changing world to pool what we know and use research so important decisions are evidence-based, rather than being plucked out of thin air. The more we can harness the different things we understand in our own field, and then pool them together, the better our prospects.”