Carlos Vargas-Silva wins ESRC Award for Outstanding Impact in Society

23 June 2017

Research Member of Common Room Carlos Vargas-Silva and his colleague Madeleine Sumption have jointly won an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Prize. Carlos Vargas-Silva is Acting Director of Oxford’s Migration Observatory, during Director Madeleine Sumption’s maternity leave.

The award, worth £10,000, was presented at a ceremony at Central Hall, Westminster, on 21 June 2017. It recognises the way the researchers’ work has changed society for the better. The Migration Observatory provides the first completely impartial source of data and analysis on migration for UK audiences including news organisations, policymakers and the general public. It thus helps reduce their dependence on partisan information, which can be inflammatory, and encourages more balanced and nuanced debate on migration in the UK.

The judging panel described the work of Ms Sumption and Associate Professor Carlos Vargas-Silva as a model for other researchers by demonstrating that “it is possible for high-quality social science research to achieve a much greater profile in the public debate”.

Over the past five years the Migration Observatory has provided a flow of trusted, tailored, accessible information:

  • Nearly 2 million people have visited its website. Key briefings such as its overview of migrants in the UK have received more than 300,000 views
  • Experts from the Migration Observatory have featured in more than 1,000 major media stories, prompting more nuanced media coverage on polarised issues such as the widely held assumption that EU migrants to the UK are driven by ‘welfare benefits tourism’
  • Its evidence and analysis is frequently cited by policymakers and parliamentarians in parliamentary debates, reports and briefing notes
  • Ms Sumption and Associate Professor Carlos Vargas-Silva organise frequent workshops, briefing and public presentations such as, prior to the 2016 the UK’s referendum on EU membership, briefings for staff from all major political parties as well as local authority officials across the UK on migration issues
  • Prior to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, the Migration Observatory’s detailed programme of analysis related specifically to migration and Scotland received widespread coverage.