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Our Policy Briefs

As a research and policy think tank, the majority of our work focuses on developing meaningful change through our reports, recommendations and initiatives. From adapting to climate change, to reforming contraceptive education programs, the Institute provides a foundation for students to address real-world matters that they are passionate about.


Throughout the year, we also offer a wide range of partnerships, workshops and events that students can use to engage stakeholders and gain experience in research, writing, and design.

Our recent policy publication


Improving Supply Chains: An Opportunity for Growth at the University of Edinburgh

As part of Buchanan's Summer Research Programme, a team dives into the University’s sustainability plans, how it manages its supply chains and how it works with the local community as an anchor institution. The brief lays out the current policies in place by the SRS department and how the University was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Outreach Policy Briefs

10 Big Ideas for Scotland 2025

In 2020, the Buchanan Institute was commissioned by the Scottish Policy Foundation (SPF) to come up with '10 Big Ideas for Scotland in 2025'.
10 young researchers worked together to come up with 10 innovative and unique policy proposals that envision and explore how Scotland can become a better place to live and a leader in innovative policy-making.

Food for a Wellbeing Economy

How is the cost of food defined? How do you know if the food that is personally 'cheap' for you is not socially and environmentally expensive? This policy proposal focuses on the True Cost Accounting system as a means to a more nutritious, sustainable food security vision that can be foundational for the Scottish wellbeing economy.

Application of the 'Open Government Concept' to WASH Provision in Nigeria

How can governments use technological and democratic innovations to make the provision of basic services more efficient? This paper identifies problem areas in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) provision and proposes three policies in the field of open government initiatives to increase its efficiency.

Improving University Education in Light of Covid-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending the world of higher education, how can university students remain engaged with their learning? This report examines the impact of COVID-19 on undergraduate students in Scotland, with a particular focus on academic education and communication. Looking forward, it also details recommendations to support universities with mitigating the consequences of the pandemic for students.

Multi-Sector Approach to Alleviating Scottish Homelessness

How can homelessness be tackled in Scotland? This policy paper takes on a multi-sector approach, providing recommendations for financial institutions, non-governmental organisations and the public sector to take action in order to alleviate this pressing issue.

Overcoming the Implementation Challenges of Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (UBI) has gained popularity in recent decades as a possible solution to problems arising from changing labour relationships, technological automation, and increasing economic inequality. Despite considerable advocation, scholarship has largely neglected to identify that such a policy will carry certain implementation challenges that differ from existing social assistance programmes.

Criminal Record Data: Ensuring Employment & Upholding Data Subject Rights (CRED)

A criminal record has harmful ramifications on people’s financial and social security.
This policy focuses on facilitating access to employment for people with a minor or old criminal conviction. It calls for legal change at the  public level, banning the disclosure of criminal records at such an early stage at the employer level, and the promotion of data subject rights at the individual level through job centres and unions.

SustainLABility: Strategies for Reducing Plastic in our University's Laboratories

The University of Edinburgh's scientific research labs are often overlooked in the reduction of plastic waste on campus; this policy brief evaluates three strategies for improvement, advocating a take-back approach for plastic packaging.

Improving Edinburgh's Bike Hire Scheme for Students

How can Edinburgh improve its bike hire scheme to provide more accessible low-carbon transport for students? This policy paper outlines four new pricing options to increase the accessibility of the Edinburgh's "Just Eat Cycle" hire scheme to student cyclists.

CERT: Contraception Education Reform Team

This policy brief demonstrates that increasing discontinuation rates of contraception must be addressed by creating a national framework of care and education on issues of contraception within Scotland. A need exists for motivated reform within the medical domain: to legitimise individual reports of side effects and attempt to address these reports in a comprehensive manner.

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