Policy Analysis for Practitioners: The M.Sc. in Policy Analysis for the University of Ulster

AuthorMichael Connolly,Andrew Erridge
Date01 September 1986
Publication Date01 September 1986
DOI10.1177/014473948600600205
Teaching
Public
Administration:
Autumn
1986 Vo1.VI
No.2
pp
82
-
97
POLICY
ANALYSIS
FOR
PRACTITIONERS:
THE
M.Sc.
IN
POLICY
ANALYSIS
FOR
THE
UNIVERSITY
OF
ULSTER
ANDREW
ERRIDGE
AND
MICHAEL
CONNOLLY
Department
of
Public
Administration
and Legal
Studies,
University
of
Ulster
INTRODUCTION
This
paper
describes
the
main
features
of
the
M.Sc.
Policy
Analysis
course
which
has
been
running
at
the
University
of
Ulster
since
January
1985.
It
is
a
two-year,
part-time
programme
for
middle-managers
from
Northern
Ireland
govern-
ment
departments
and
other
public
sector
agencies.
From
the
employers'
point
of
view,
it
also
serves
as
a
management
development
programme
during
which
participants
acquire
skills
which
the
employing
organisations
recognise
are
essential
for
the
performance
of
their
tasks.
We
will
first
outline
the
origins
and
aims
of
the
course,
before
examining
its
structure
and
content,
and
will
conclude
by
reviewing
progress
so
far
and
looking
to
the
future.
ORIGINS
AND
BACKGROUND
The
course
must
be
seen
against
the
background
of
close
cooperation
which
had
developed
over
the
years
between
the
former
Ulster
Polytechnic
and
the
public
sector
in
the
province.
A
range
of
part-time
certificated
programmes
were
developed
from
Business
Education
Council
(BEC)
Higher
National
through
undergraduate
degrees
in
Public
Sector
Administration
and
Business
Studies
to
an
MBA
with
a
large
intake
from
public
sector
organisations
and
a
Master's
in
Education
Management.
This
was
complemented
by
professional
courses
for
chartered
secretaries,
health
service
management
and
accountants.
About
300
public
and
civil
servants
join
these
courses
each
year.
In
addition
staff
from
the
Faculty
of
Business
and
Management
were
involved
in
running
short
courses
including
investment
appraisal
for
civil
servants
82
and
officers
from
housing,
health
and
education
agencies,
various
small
business
and
enterprise
programmes
for
the
Department
of
Economic
Development,
and
middle-management
courses
for
health
service
managers.
Through
these
contacts
staff
had
established
a
good
rapport
with
staff
of
public
sector
organisations
in
the
province.
Against
this
background,
the
course
owes
ks
immediate
origins
to
entrepreneurship
on
the
part
of
the
Dean
of
the
Faculty
of
Business
and
Management,
and
farsightedness
on
the
part
of
a
then
Under
Secretary
in
the
Department
of
Finance
and
Personnel,
. now
Permanent
Secretary
at
the
Department
of
Heal
th
and
Social
Services
(DHSS).
Both
sought
a way
of
facilitating
a
programme
offering
departments
the
opportunity
to
enhance
their
analytical
capacity
through
offering
young
'fast-track'
civil
servants
either
a
project-based
course
or
research
degrees.
Recognising
the
need
for
breadth
as
well
as
depth,
staff
of
the
Public
Administration
Team
drew
up
proposals
for
a
broad-based
Policy
Analysis
Master's
programme,
which
offered
the
opportunity
for
in-depth
analysis
of
real
problems
of
the
employing
organisation.
The
need
for
policy
analytical
skills
was
heightened
by
the
novel
problems
and
uncertain
environment
facing
public
sector
managers
in
the
province,
requiring
a
high
quality
of
strategic
decision-making.
Central
to
those
problems
was
the
increasing
scarcity
of
resources
available,
hence
the
necessity
for
the
political
management
of
such
resources
to
be
both
more
efficient
and
effective.
A
spur
to
action
on
the
part
of
the
civil
service
was
the
Financial
Management
Initiative,
(FMI)
which
required
positive
steps
to
be
taken
to
scrutinise
the
use
of
resources
and
ensure
value
for
money.
The
proposed
M.
Sc.
in
Policy
Analysis
was
seen
as
a
means
of
enhancing
the
capacity
of
departments
to
carry
out
these
responsibilities.
In
a
speech
to
the
Northern
Ireland
Group
of
the
Royal
Institute
of
Public
Administration
in
1983,
Dr
Quigley,
the
Permanent
Secretary
of
the
Depart-
ment
of
Finance
and
Personnel,
outlined
developments
linked
to
the
FMI,
and
said:
83

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