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World centre for Irish and Scottish Studies receives unprecedented £1.25million

The AHRB (Arts and Humanities Research Board) will be awarding the money to the University’s dedicated Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies as part of the second phase of the AHRB’s Research Centres Scheme.

In the first round of the awards in 2000, The AHRB Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University was one of almost 150 applications received from throughout the UK. Only 10 centres were finally established.

Phase Two takes the project to a higher level, designated as world-class, and will enable the Aberdeen centre to fulfil its aim of taking the lead role in national and international levels of Irish and Scottish studies research.

Professor Tom Devine, OBE, FBA, Glucksman Research Professor of Irish and Scottish Studies, and Director of the AHRB Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen, collaborated with academic colleagues at Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, and the University of Liverpool, to successfully secure the financial award.

The associated universities will be responsible for maintaining effective relationships between their affiliated staff and the Aberdeen centre, and to act as the Centre’s co-advisers.

Professor Devine said: “This is stunning news not simply for Aberdeen and its partners but for Arts and Humanities in Scotland in general. The unprecedented level of new funding will have a transformational effect on the Centre’s future research activities and postgraduate training.

“Equally, however, the AHRB decision, taken only after thorough consultation with distinguished international assessors, demonstrates that the Humanities in the Scottish universities, like colleagues in science and medicine, can achieve world-class research status which brings great honour and prestige to our country.”

Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Chief Executive of the AHRB added: “Our Research Centres scheme is designed to provide a focus for research in strategically important areas, and across a range of universities and disciplines.

“This will be the largest single award that the AHRB has ever made, and it will enable the AHRB Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies to develop its leading international position in what is a critically important field of research”.

First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell offered his congratulations on the team’s successful collaborative efforts. He said: "I am delighted to learn that the AHRB Research Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies is to receive this award from the Arts and Humanities Research Board. It represents a significant achievement for the University of Aberdeen and its partners, Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Liverpool.

”Since its inauguration five years ago, the Centre has become a world leader in Scottish and Irish studies and has produced a formidable body of research into the histories, languages, literatures and cultures of the two countries. It is a tribute to the high quality and significance of its work so far that the Institute has received this funding. I wish it every possible success as it looks to the future and to setting new academic benchmarks in Scottish and Irish Studies."

Professor C Duncan Rice, Principal, University of Aberdeen, also welcomed the news. He said: "This is a triumph for the University and for our efforts to keep the humanities strong and visible in Scotland."

Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, said the award fittingly honoured the significance of the work being carried out in Irish and Scottish studies: "I am delighted to offer my warm congratulations to the University of Aberdeen and its partners, Trinity College Dublin, Queen's University Belfast and the University of Liverpool, on this award from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB).

“I hope that it will facilitate a further five years of excellent activity by the AHRB Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies. It is a tribute to the world-class quality and importance of the work carried out across Ireland and Scotland since the Centre was inaugurated in 1999 and I wish all concerned continued success in the future."

Professor Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This funding award recognises both the remarkable growth of Irish-Scottish studies and the key role of the AHRB Centre in maintaining that dynamic. Few academic projects have such potential to combine intellectual excitement with cultural and political significance. Queen’s University is delighted to be a partner in inter-disciplinary research which can provide particularly illuminating perspectives on Northern Ireland."

Professor David Dickson, University Registrar and Co-Director of the Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies at Trinity College Dublin, said: "This award is emphatic confirmation of the pioneering part played by Aberdeen in Irish-Scottish studies and of the inspired leadership it has enjoyed. It is also a measure of the University’s
success in identifying exciting new directions for the development of Irish-Scottish Studies. Trinity College is delighted to be involved in this endeavour and looks forward to consolidating the enormously fruitful partnership that has grown up between our two institutions."

The University of Aberdeen recently announced the recruitment of an international line-up of leading academics in its drive to develop further as a centre of excellence in Celtic and Irish-Scottish Studies. The move marks an enhanced commitment by the University to expand these areas. The College of Arts & Social Sciences is also planning four new appointments across the College, in Irish-Scottish studies, to work with its internationally famous Research Institute for Irish and Scottish Studies (RIISS) and the AHRB Centre of which it is an important part. This will further enhance its activities in Celtic Studies and strengthen Irish-Scottish Studies as a core theme across the College.

The Arts and Humanities Research Board funds postgraduate training and research in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. AHRB Research Centres provide a focus for collaborative research in areas of strategic importance. Although the social and natural sciences have long had access to funding to establish centres of research expertise, it was not until the launch of the AHRB’s Research Centres Scheme that researchers in the arts and humanities have benefited from a similar opportunity. An offer of an award will be issued to the University of Aberdeen shortly for the phase two centre. Under the terms of the 2004 Higher Education Act, the AHRB will become a fully-fledged research council in April 2005.

Professor Tom Devine is available for interview today (Monday, January 24). Please contact him direct on (01698) 421057.


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Monday 24th of January 2005

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