Competition winner – Changing Perceptions Challenge

We’re pleased to announce the winner of our Changing Perceptions Challenge!

Dreamt up by our Data Impact Fellow Ben Brindle, the Changing Perceptions Challenge was launched by the UK Data Service and encouraged students to engage with data-driven research and think creatively about changing public perceptions of immigration and the economy.

Open to sixth form and college students in the UK, the competition asked students to write a short analysis comparing public and media attitudes to immigration with the findings of data-driven academic research, before then designing a campaign to communicate the research findings and improve public understanding of the economic impact of immigration.

Alongside Ben and Finn Dymond-Green, the UK Data Service’s Director of Impact, entries were judged by Professor Jonathan Portes from King’s College London and Helen Dempster from the Center for Global Development.

Finn said,

“Ben’s idea for the Changing Perceptions Challenge was a great one, encouraging students to assess public and media attitudes about immigration and the jobs market alongside what data-enhanced research uncovers about the reality of the situation.

“Engaging younger people with socioeconomic data in the context of current issues like this has been an innovative and impactful approach. It was a pleasure to work with Ben to develop and promote the competition.”

After reviewing all of the entry submissions, we are excited to congratulate Lily from the Tiffin Girls’ School who has won the competition, as well as a £100 book token for both her and her school.

What the judges said about the winning entry

Ben Brindle, competition creator, UK Data Service Data Impact Fellow and South Coast DTP-funded doctoral student in Economics at the University of Brighton.

Headshot of PhD student Ben Brindle“This entry was comprehensive in scope, thoroughly researched, and well written. The analysis succinctly presents a link between the language used in media articles and attitudes towards immigration, and effectively uses academic research to challenge the assertions made in these articles.

“The proposed campaign has a clear target audience in mind and has been designed to engage this audience.

“I love the idea of drawing upon immigrants’ own experiences of life in the UK to make the campaign more emotive – these are voices which too often are not heard in public discourse!”


Helen Dempster, Policy Fellow and Assistant Director for the Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy Program at the Center for Global Development

Helen Dempster“This essay is a worthy winner of the competition. I like the way it practically engages with real examples of UK newspaper headlines, seeking to both interrogate the data they are relying on and contextualizing them within the broader academic landscape.

“Indeed, a youth-focused social media campaign, as the writer suggests, would be an excellent way to communicate facts in an easy-to-understand way and attempt to shift perceptions. I look forward to seeing this campaign come to light!”


Finn Dymond-Green, UK Data Service Director of Impact

Neil Dymond-Green, Service Director for Impact“This is a worthy winner of the Changing Perceptions Challenge. There is clear analysis of the media presentation of immigration and its alleged impact on the job market, as well as how it could colour people’s perceptions.

“Alongside this is excellent exploration of data-enhanced research which uncovers the reality of the situation. I was impressed at how clearly and effectively the campaign was planned, bringing a personal touch to encouraging re-evaluation of perceptions about immigration.”


Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London

Jonathan Portes“Few issues are more discussed in the UK media than immigration – yet sadly much of the debate is misinformed, misleading or both. Changing this requires both data, analysis and evidence and personal stories – wherever possible told by immigrants and refugees themselves.

“Bringing those together and communicating them to young people via social media will be challenging but such a campaign is exactly what the debate needs.”



Congratulations, Lily! 

Visit the Data Impact blog tomorrow to read the winning entry.



Featured image: two hands clasped and held aloft. Photo by Jo Jo on Unsplash.

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