Looking back – looking forward
ENU has a long history of support for the armed forces evidenced in the war poet’s memorial based at our Craiglockhart Campus. More recently the University has invested in promoting its relationship with the Armed Forces into the present and future. The Centre for Military Research, Education and Public Engagement (CMREPE) is the most recent development in this area and represents the universities commitment to maintain strong working relationship with the armed forces. This new initiative has developed rapidly over the last 12 months underpinned by much of the previous work across the university in both research and education areas. Perhaps our strongest area of development has been in the area of public engagement, developing a strong network of significant partnerships to enhance opportunities for military personnel active, transitioning and veterans in education and research activity.
The centre development is underpinned by the following seven key objectives:
- To consolidate and further develop the military research and education capacity across ENU by integrating existing research and teaching strengths more effectively and by expanding the range of relevant teaching and research skills in the military field.
- To use this increased capacity to carry out independent, high quality, funded programmes of research and education relevant to the needs of Scotland’s military forces and which, via enhanced knowledge exchange activity, will strengthen the evidence base on which military policy, practice and training are developed.
- To provide a focus for the military research community, Scottish forces and other relevant groups and organisations in Scotland; encourage and facilitate the development of UK and international links with other researchers, educationalists, policy makers and practitioners engaged in military research, education, and welfare.
- Benefiting from the guidance of an experienced advisory group, secure strong partnerships and engage in collaborative working with key military, Government and third-sector stakeholders; with the objective of delivering relevant and robust research outcomes for practice.
- To capitalise on existing, and create new, opportunities for third-party funded research through creating prospects for new and established researchers and educators. In association with the above, to attract an increased level of funding (initial target 2.2 million per annum) for research and educational provision from an enhanced range of sources.
- To exploit this combined internal and external partnership of experts to facilitate a flow of three-and four-star research articles and to contribute to ENU’s reputation for practice-orientated and applied research, as well as support the develop a high-quality impact case study for next REF.
- Over time to develop a cadre of externally funded research students and attract excellent early career and new blood researchers to underpin the development and sustainability of a world-renowned Centre for Military Research, Education and Public Engagement based at the University’s historic Craiglockhart Campus.
- Develop an external advisory panel of military, voluntary sector, veterans and Scottish government to ensure that key areas for development are maintained at the core of centre business and development.
Three key roles have been established within the centre a University Director/Research lead, University Education Lead, and a University Public Engagement lead. Below is an introduction, information on the roles and an update on developments to date. These are not independent roles but rather a team who will work together to drive forward all three areas of the centre.
The Centre Director and University Lead for Military Research
Dr Gerri Matthews-Smith (G.Matthews-Smith@napier.ac.uk) currently acts as both Director of the Centre and the University Lead for Military Research. This role is about consolidation and development of Military research, cross–School, cross-university, nationally and internationally. This also involves working closely with the other two leads to promote the centre locally, nationally, and internationally. The current membership of the centre reflects that we are progressing well in this direction, but this will be built into the development plan. However, the role is also about supporting and developing funded research proposals and outputs.
Progress to date has included securing a FiMT £300,000 bit in partnership with the University of Edinburgh. This has supported the employment of the first Centre Research Fellow. This has also involved the development of an external advisory group comprising: Scottish Government, Veterans Scotland, the Scottish Veterans office, representatives from the tri services, veterans, and representation from FiMT. Regular meetings ensure we are enhancing our opportunities to build strategic partnerships with the MoD and related personnel.
We already have one doctoral student but are actively seeking funding for several more. We have had several encouraging discussions with some of the early career researcher group to join us on research developments and have planned research proposal development workshops. To enhance the consolidation of work across Scotland we have had our first cross–university meeting with 9 universities across Scotland who are keen to develop a Scottish Military Research hub. Working links have been established with Cranfield University and Anglia Ruskin FiMT research hub.
On an international level we have linked with two international military networks across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, and the UK. We are the Scottish representatives on both groups, the first a military education and wellbeing research network and the second a Military human resources research group.
Educational Lead Role and developments to date
To promote educational development across the school Maggie Anderson (Lecturer/Programme Leader: BA Business and Enterprise and Senior Fellow HEA within the Business School - Ma.Anderson@napier.ac.uk) is the University Armed Forces Academic Lead. The remit of the Armed Forces Academic Lead is to look for academic opportunities across the six Schools to develop and enhance education offering to the Armed Forces Community as a whole. The Armed Forces Community can be considered in six groupings
* with each group all needing slightly varied advice and support when considering HE education during or after service. Maggie has developed an Armed Forces Academic Working Group with the Deans of each School having recommended a colleague from their School to sit on the Working Group to represent and highlight the educational offering from that School.
The six groupings:
- Current serving personnel (AF personnel still in active service)
- AF personnel about to enter resettlement
- WIS (personnel who had had to leave service due to Wounded Injured & Sick)
- Early Service Leavers (AF personnel who have left service early i.e., less than 6 years’ service)
- Family members (Spouses, partners, and service children)
Public Engagement Lead role and development to date
Claire Biggar (C.Biggar@napier.ac.uk) is within the Capability and Engagement Team in HR as Inclusion and Wellbeing Consultant. Claire has taken on the role of Military Public Engagement Lead. Claire was instrumental in encouraging the Principal and Vice Chancellor to sign the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. We received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award in 2017 and we were the first Scottish University to receive the Gold Award in November 2019 allowing us to be a member of the MoD Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Alumni Association (GAA). The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme highlights the good work and commitment organisations demonstrate to support the Armed Forces Community.
Over the years, Claire has built up an influential external network within the Armed Forces Community in Scotland which includes the Scottish Veterans Commissioner, Veterans and Armed Forces Personnel Unit with the Scottish Government, Veterans Scotland, The Royal Caledonian Education Trust, Army Personal Recovery Unit, Career Transition Partnership, Commanding Officer with Army HQ at 51 Brigade and the Commanding Officer with the Edinburgh Garrison. Claire sits on several external working groups and committees to represent the HE sectors to the Armed Forces Community along with a colleague from Glasgow Caledonian University.
In 2018 the HE: FE Veterans Champions Network was established by Jim Castle (Glasgow Caledonian University) and Claire ensuring there is a representative from each Scottish university and many of the Colleges on the network. The aim of these networks is to allow us all to work together to explore opportunities for how education can be a viable option to those in active service, transitioning from service and veterans. We continue to explore opportunities and present them to Training, Education, Skills, Recruiting and Resettlement (TESRR) within the MoD to help inform mindset that education is an asset to the service and ex-service community and their families. Claire was involved in introducing the need for military qualification mapping into the Scottish education system. This project was picked up by the Scottish Credit Qualification Framework Partnership who have done a vast amount for work with TESRR to map the qualifications for the benefit of serving personnel, ex personnel, employers and education institutions.
Internally within the university, Claire has introduced an Armed Forces Champions Network to ensure there are colleagues in various departments who can be a point of contact for the Armed Forces community. She has also introduced an Armed Forces Research Lead and Armed Forced Academic Lead
Claire currently sits on the following working groups and committees.
- Co-Chair of the SFC Armed Forces and Veterans Community Group
- Firm Base Steering Group Scotland (hosted by the MoD)
- Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on The Armed Forces and Veterans Community
- Advisory Board for Military Transition Research Project
- Edinburgh Armed Forces Covenant Group (Chaired by Lord Provost)
- Lowland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
- Secretary for the Edinburgh Military Education Committee
The Centre for Military Research, Education & Public Engagement at Edinburgh Napier University is working with the University of Edinburgh to gather experiences of resettlement and transition from military to civilian life in Scotland. You’re in Your Own Time Now is a project designed to gain a better understanding of service leavers' aspirations, concerns and support needs when leaving the armed forces. Active personnel thinking about leaving the Armed Forces, those in the process of resettlement or transition, and veterans who left the armed forces within the last 10 years and their partners/spouses are being asked to share their experiences through an online survey.
And it’s not just service personnel themselves who are sought. We recognise that transition impacts strongly on the family, so we are also keen to meet with spouses or partners (and) organisations who offer support to the armed forces community. We hope that our research will provide important information for Government, policy makers and service providers, with a view to helping make a positive difference to the lives of veterans and their families. Additional information is also available in the information sheet.
Survey for veterans or spouses/family member.
Survey for employers.
Reporter Huw Williams, BBC Radio Orkney
Huw was instrumental in disseminating the Transition study through BBC Radio Orkney. The research team (Dr Gerri Matthews-Smith and Dr Linda J Thomas) met Huw briefly during data collection to thank him for his help in April 2022 in Orkney.
From left to right: Dr Linda J Thomas and Dr Sarah Sholl from Edinburgh Napier University for the Transitions study at the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) Employment fair, Murrayfield stadium, Edinburgh on 18th May 2022.
CTP Employment Fairs are held throughout the year in cities across the UK, and offer a fantastic opportunity to network and meet with potential employers ranging from multi-nationals to smaller regionally based companies, across a wide range of different industries.
All the companies in attendance are specifically seeking to recruit Service leavers into their organisation as they recognise the qualities and skills that Service leavers have and the benefits they bring to their workforce.
From left to right: Dr Peter Tormey (ENU), Dr Linda J Thomas (ENU), Dr Sarah Sholl (ENU), Amy McDermott (University of Glasgow).
We were given an opportunity to be an exhibitor at the employment fair to help increase awareness and educational opportunities for serving personnel, service leavers, as well as their partners and spouses within Higher Education.