NOTE: KESS Programming currently interrupted, but we are working to resume as soon as possible

The Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe) jointly delivers KESS with the Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB – co-founder 2011), Ulster University (Ulster – 2012), The Open University (OU – 2013),  St. Mary’s University College (2018) and Stranmillis University College (2018).  It is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, formally partnering a legislative arm of government – the Assembly – with academia. 

Aiming to promote evidence-informed policy and law-making, KESS provides a forum in which academics present their research findings in a straightforward format, on issues that are relevant to governance in Northern Ireland.  It seeks to bring those findings to the attention of key participants and decision-makers, including MLAs, the wider public sector and others, in a “safe space” that encourages discussion, fosters improved understanding and seeks to enable opportunities for more in-depth engagement in future.

KESS does not support or promote perspectives or messages stated at seminars or in policy briefings or PowerPoint presentations.  The opportunity to apply to present at KESS is open to all academics and researchers employed by a university partner.  When the call is open, it is promoted through the university partners’ internal communication channels and social media.  Contributions from all perspectives are encouraged.  All presentations are required to be independent, evidence-informed, robust and reliable, as well as relevant to policy and law-making relating to Northern Ireland.

Embedded in the KESS model are: the local universities via their academics; Assembly committees via their Chairpersons; the Assembly’s RaISe via its Researchers; and, a broad spectrum of attendees.  As in the past, when there is an absence of Assembly Committee Chairs due to political circumstances, the KESS model is adapted; with the Researcher delivering the Welcome and the Opening Remarks.  Attendees may include: MLAs and their staff; political party staff; Assembly and Departmental officials; others from the public and private sectors; academics; voluntary and community groups; and, members of the public.

Seminars are free and are held on Wednesdays, normally from October through June.  When necessary, due to political circumstances, KESS may start its annual programme later in the year, or may temporarily suspend programming.  Each seminar starts at 1.30pm in Parliament Buildings, located on Stormont Estate.

When attending KESS, please note that Parliament Buildings is a public building, and there may be photography, filming and recording in its public spaces.  Only the academics presenting at KESS are filmed when making their presentations.  Reserved seating can be provided away from the camera when requested by attendees.

Most seminars cover a range of themes under one broad heading – see programme for relevant dates and timings. On arrival, delegates receive a seminar pack that includes the academics’ policy briefings and PowerPoint presentations, amongst other information.

Tea/coffee is provided following presentations and discussion. Free parking is available to all. Kindly allow time to pass through Assembly Security upon entry to Parliament Buildings; and ensure that you specify your special needs (for example, wheelchair accessibility) when registering. The Assembly is committed to fulfilling its equality-related roles and responsibilities and will take reasonable efforts to meet requests relating to them.

If you wish to reserve your place at a seminar, please register at: https://kess.org.uk/register/

Thanks for supporting KESS.