Shadowing is helping to bridge the gap between MPs and universities. The scheme, initiated by the Parliamentary University Group, aims to provide an opportunity for MPs and universities to discover more about each other's concerns.
Lynne Jones, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, recently shadowed Graham Upton, pro vice chancellor of Birmingham University. She said: "It threw open the doors and cut through the ritual of MPs exaggerating the importance of what they are doing, often colluding in an unrealistic image of what Parliament is about."
Dr Jones said her visit had given her a better understanding of how modern pressures have affected universities. A possible solution she has come up with is a specialised regional structure with better co-operation between research programmes. She suggests this would also facilitate funding applications.
Professor Upton thinks the shadowing scheme is important in informing both sides of what is needed and what is possible. He said: "I have a much clearer view of how Parliamentary affairs are conducted, in particular the ways in which an individual MP can influence the development of policy and decision-making."
He hopes the scheme will widen to include more MPs.