Major funding boost for promotion of Gaelic at University of Aberdeen

The University of Aberdeen is to share in funding of £5.29 million for research into the support and revitalisation of the Gaelic language and culture.

The University is one of four institutions to share in the latest research pooling initiative, which will see more than £900,000 invested in the study and promotion of Gaelic at Aberdeen.

Soillse (pronounced soil-shuh), which is Gaelic for enlightenment, is a research partnership of UHI Millennium Institute (UHIMI) and the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC) is investing £1.866 million, with £2.483 million being invested by the institutions, £0.541 million from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and £0.4 million from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The investment will be used to recruit world-class research staff, create nine PhD studentships based across the partner institutions, with at least four to be in collaboration with Gaelic stakeholders, and hold an annual conference to showcase research findings.

The key function of Soillse will be to inform the Scottish Government’s economic and social priorities for Gaelic. 

The four institutions will work in partnership with key agencies, such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig, to share the information gleaned from their research to inform national and local efforts to reverse the decline of the Gaelic language, and encourage the use of Gaelic in areas where it is not traditionally spoken.

To support the project in Aberdeen, the SFC will contribute £242,000, £125,000 will come from other funders, including and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and the University will invest £539,000.

Mark Batho, Chief Executive of SFC said: “Scotland has a rich and colourful history and Gaelic has played a large part in that. 

“We feel it is important that the Gaelic language and culture should be encouraged to flourish and develop and I am pleased that we and the partners involved are able to fund research to keep this significant part of the Scottish identity alive.”

Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning added: “I am sure that this partnership will play a key role in informing how we drive forward our work on promoting the Gaelic language over the next few years.

“We must create a new generation of Gaelic speakers in order to preserve a rich seam in the cultural life of Scotland and a distinct language community in Scotland.

“The geographic spread of the Soillse partnership demonstrates the efforts that are being made right across Scotland to reverse the decline in the number of Gaelic speakers.”

Professor Chris Gane, Head of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, said: “The University of Aberdeen is firmly committed to the promotion of Gaelic language.

“Gaelic is integral to Scotland’s history and to the University of Aberdeen, where it is included in our teaching programme, research agenda and engagement with the public, through our popular WORD Festival and other University events.

“The Soillse initiative further underlines this commitment and the additional funding will help to build on the important work being done to promote Gaelic at Aberdeen.”