The British Council is calling for policy ideas from all bright minds among undergraduate and graduate students to address challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to getting a chance to have a go at solving some of the most pressing issues the world is faced with today, the contest will be an opportunity for networking with brilliant students from across the country and for winning an online course at universities in the United Kingdom. 

What is COVID-19 Students’ Policy Challenge?

The COVID-19 Policy Challenge is a students’ contest dedicated to designing policy proposals that aim to solve today's most pressing challenges. Participants of the contest are invited to submit policy briefs in response to one of the challenge prompts (see below) by 8 December 2020. Top five individuals/teams will advance to the online final where they will have three minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel consisting of policymakers, NGOs leaders and donor representatives. The online event will be held in second half of January 2021. 

Why should students participate in this contest?

Benefits of participating in a competition include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • having an opportunity to win online courses. First-place winners will receive a voucher of GBP 1,500 for courses at universities in the United Kingdom, while second place winners will receive voucher of GBP 1,000
  • having your proposal published in the British Council online collection of all finalists’ policy briefs
  • networking with other students with diverse academic backgrounds
  • developing critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills.

What are the challenge prompts?

The challenge prompts are overarching thematic areas among which participants will have to pick the specific problem at local or national level, or in universities and hospitals, and try to solve it through their policy proposals. The challenge prompts for this contest are as follows:  

Challenge #1: How to respond to and recover from COVID-19 by strengthening social justice and protecting the most vulnerable?

The pandemic has disproportionately impacted marginalised and disadvantaged populations. The evidence around the world shows the worrying health, psychological, social and economic situation of people from ethnic minorities, including Roma; older people; minors, migrants and refugees; prisoners; people with disabilities; women; sex workers; drug users; those living in poverty, working in the informal economy, or lacking stable housing – to highlight just a few.

What are the ways to help to vulnerable groups? How can care be delivered to people who struggle to care for themselves or have limited or no access to care? What measures can be implemented to protect workers in informal economy? How can we ensure that all kids have access to online learning? How can we ensure that low-income families with children have a stable income? How can we ensure undisrupted access to healthcare for non-COVID-19 patients? How can much needed psychosocial support be provided for those in need?

Challenge #2: How to respond to and recover from COVID-19 in a manner that helps building resilience to climate change?

Coinciding with pandemic, we are facing unprecedented global climate change challenges evidenced in rise of temperatures, shrinking ice sheets, warming oceans and extreme weather conditions.

How has the pandemic impacted on climate change, but also vice versa? What is the best way for managing enormous number of surgical masks and other medical equipment that ends up in wastelands? How can we recover our economies from the pandemic in a way that they are greener, cleaner, healthier and more resilient? How can we enhance our mitigation and adaptation capacities to be better prepared to respond to climate change challenges?  Are there measures that can be imposed on businesses, public institutions and private households to save our environment? 

Who is eligible to participate in the contest? 

All students currently enrolled in a bachelor's or master’s degree program at all Universities in North Macedonia (public and private). Students must be between 18-30 years old as of the original submission deadline (8 December 2020).

Is the contest for individuals or teams?

The contest is open for both individuals and teams of up to 3 members. Multidisciplinary teams gathering students from different of study are strongly encouraged to apply. Individual applications and team applications will be treated equally, as well as applications from applicants from one field of study and from different fields of study (which we encourage).

How to apply?

Study carefully detailed instructions for the contest, as well as application form, and send us your submission, together with basic information about your team members, by 8 December via email

What are key dates in the process?

  1. Apply by 8 December 2020.
  2. We will select five most inspiring submissions by 10 January 2021. 
  3. Grand finale preparations in January 2021.
  4. Finalists will pitch their ideas in 3min long presentation to the jury members at the online event in January 2021.
  5. We will publish online collection of all finalists’ policy briefs in February 2021.

The COVID-19 Students’ Policy Challenge is part of the Western Balkan Science Engagement Programme (SEP), funded and implemented by British Council.