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New Funding Targets Greater Understanding Of China, Japan, Eastern Europe And Arabic-Speaking World


Today, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) announce the launch of five new collaborative centres as part of their joint £25million Language Based Area Studies initiative.

The initiative aims to create a world class cadre of researchers who will enhance the UK’s understanding of the Arabic-speaking world, China, Japan and Eastern Europe, including areas of the former Soviet Union. Understanding these areas is of cultural, political and economic importance to the UK. The development of the necessary language skills alongside the development of an in-depth understanding of these regions will be central to the work of the centres.

New networks of collaboration are also being established through the five centres with universities coming together to share expertise. Each of them will be directly investing in studentships and other academic positions at post-doctoral levels creating structured career opportunities and encouraging the next generation of highly skilled researchers into language based area studies.

The five new centres to be funded through the initiative are:

• Lead by Dr Frank Pieke, the British Interuniversity China Centre (BICC) sees the Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Manchester combine forces to develop the UK’s premier teaching and research facility on China.

• Based at the University of Glasgow, Richard Berry will lead a collaboration of St Andrew’s University and the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Paisley, Strathclyde, Newcastle and Nottingham to establish a research centre looking at Eastern Europe and Russia.

• Professor Robert Hillenbrand of the University of Edinburgh will head up the centre studying the Arabic-speaking world in partnership with the Universities of Durham and Manchester.

• The Universities of Leeds and Sheffield will work together, lead by Professor Victor King to create an international centre of excellence in research and training on Japan and China.

• At UCL, Professor George Kolankiewicz will work with the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham to establish the Centre for East European and Former Soviet Union Language Based Area Studies (CEELBAS).

In a joint statement the Chief Executives of the funding bodies said, “We are delighted that working with other funders we have been able to establish partnerships that will invigorate language skills across the diverse range of research that makes up area studies. These five new centres are a solid investment that will help to develop and enhance the research base within area studies, ensuring that it contributes fully to the economic development and quality of life for the people of the UK and beyond.”

Alexandra Saxon | alfa
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